April 14

The Dos and Don’ts of Surfing for Beginners: Tips to Keep in Mind


There’s one thing all beginner surfers have in common - they all want to get better. 

The second thing all beginner surfers have in common - they realize how hard it is. 

With that being said, there’s never been a better time to take up the sport of surfing.

There’s more of everything. 

More wave pools, more beginner friendly surfing advice, more surf schools, more surf camps, more online courses. 

The good news is, all these resources are tailored towards surfing for beginners and will help speed up the progression cycle. 

But, be warned not all of them know what they're talking about. 

In this post we’re going to recommend the do's and debunk a few of the dont’s so you can simply catch more waves, more often. 

Let’s begin. 


Everybody's development is different.

There’s not one size fits all answer.

Some beginner surfers are fortunate to only stay here for a few weeks, maybe months. Other’s never leave this stage. 

Understandably, you didn't come here to hear me waffle. Far from it, you came to find answers. 

With that being said, at the House of Surf we believe the development stages of learning to surf only needs take you five weeks (this is why we made a whole digital course on the subject).


Without question the hardest part of learning to surf is catching waves on your own. 

Being able to predict where waves are going to break and how they will break is a difficult skill to master overnight.

These more nuanced aspects of surfing are best developed with spending as much time in the water as possible. 

Trying to hurry up this process is 

With that being said, the more knowledge you do know, the more progress you'll make. 

Here are a few tips we've compiled to help speed up the learning process.



It sounds counterintuitive to what I've just said but hear me out for a minute. 

With the explosion of surf schools , wave pools and surf camps popping up around the world, there's never been a better time to become a surf instructors.

More pay, more hours and more kudos. 

But, here's the thing. Does being a qualified surf instructor equate to being a good one?

No, of course not. 

This is where the advantages of leaning to surf online are.

Not only can you get hold of world class coaches on your door step, the advantages of learning online are endless. 


I know it’s boring, but we do need to address the importance of learning about our environment as there’s a pretty big difference between life and death. 

Sadly, every year, we lose hundreds of people on our local beaches to drownings and some of these could have been avoided with more ocean awareness. 

Ribs aren't bad. It’s what happens to people in a rip is why most people drown. 

A little education and eventually exposure to rips will go a long way to building confidence and greater understand and respect of our oceans will help to keep us safe when where enjoying our sport. 


All surfers depend heavily on a little bit of velcro attached to their ankles. 

If this attachment is to ever break or snaps then playful, fun. surf could quickly change into panic and hysteria. 

If you’re hiring equipment then it pays to check the condition of the leg rope and the string attached to it before going out. 

If you have your own equipment, invest in a high quality top of the range brand. 

Overtime as it wears, and becomes frail, invest in a new one. 

You can’t put a price on how valuable this little piece of equipment is to your overall safety when you’re surfing. 


In the beginning there’s so much to learn. 

From surf technique to surf etiquette. At times it can all get a bit too much. 

Eliminating some of the additional stresses by surfing beginner friendly locations can help you gain more confidence to practice your craft. 

An additional bonus of surfing beginner friendly locations is not only are they safe but they are also less intimating than more advance surf spots. 

Making for a more enjoyable experience.


Onshore conditions are notoriously more difficult to learn in. 

With multiple shifting peaks it can be difficult to find a good ride. 

However, there are many added benefits to surfing onshore waves as a beginner.

Let's take a look:

  • If you solely rely on the surf conditions to be offshore, you’re not going to be able to get in on a regular basis. 
  • As you start to identify a rhythm in the ocean when the waves are onshore, you’ll find it easier to establish the rhythm of the ocean, when it's off shore.
  • Less crowded so you’re able to pick and choose your waves without contending with more experienced surfers.
  • It helps to keep your fitness level up. Any lapse away from surfing and you feel an immediate difference the next time you're in the water. Tired arms makes it difficult to catch waves. 

Kelly Slater is a great example of surfing terrible surf conditions.

Growing up in Florida with some of the smallest and worst surf conditions, he's gone on to become the most iconic surfer of all time. 

If Kelly can do it, so can you. 


When you're first starting out in any sport it can be incredibly intimidating until you get to know some of the rules and guidelines. 

Surf etiquette is a set of unwritten rules to keep all surfers safe and to create order out in the lineup. 

These rules are an invaluable bit of information so you know exactly what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong.

Everything from who’s right of way it is, to not to ditch your board all help to bring about more confidence so you can feel more accepted and less out of place as a beginner surfer in the line up. 


The brutally honest truth is, if you can't pop up , you’ll need to stretch.

If you can’t paddle you’ll need to get stronger.

If you’re scared shitless off being held down, you’ll need to work on your mindset. 

All of these are out of water activities. 

Granted, you’ll never be able to replace the learning which takes place in the water. Surfing is unique in this way. 

But, you can help your in water performance by doing your homework.

This is especially true if you are a late comer to the sport. 

Now you've be shown a few shortcuts to get better, less also address some of things you should never do. 

Let's take a look. 



You see it over and over again. 

Beginner surfers on boards that are too small for them. 

Struggling to stay centered and paddling for waves they’ll never get. 

If only they listened, right?

Your goal is to stay on a soft top for as long as you can until you become frustrated with the equipment because your skill level has surpassed the equipment.  

Until you get to this point stay clear of fiberglass boards and instead embrace the foamie. 

Not only will you stunt your progression but you’ll get so frustrated that you might even give up all together. 


Without sounding like your mum, surfing alone can potentially compromise your safety. 

As a beginner surfer you ability to handle yourself in sketchy situations such a flash rips, pile drives into shallow sand banks and late take offs can put you in added danger, 

As surfers it’s part of our nature to wander off the beaten track, but this usually comes once you feel totally confident in both your skill sets and your ability to handle yourself in the ocean if something was to go wrong. 

Stay clear of surfing alone for now as you may just end up as another statistic on someone's database if you don't. 


Take a moment and do your research, and find a wetsuit thats warm. 

It makes such a difference between you surfing in the winter and you sitting on the couch watching TV. 

Invest in quality and something that feels comfortable, over any new hipster trend. 

A warm wetsuit, made with the latest technology will make you feel snug on those cold winter days. 

Struggling for recommendations?, head here for the latest. 


No matter how well you pop, if you look down during the popping up process, there’s a very high chance you’re going to fall. 

A quick fix to a number of your popping problems can be found by simply looking in the direction of where you want to go. 

Looking up changes the way the body moves from a prone position to a standing potion. 

If you’re struggling to remember to look forward, try using a landmark to focus on until you start to see a habit forming. 

This simple hack will see a big shift in your progression immediately. 


Setting unrealistic goals for yourself is setting yourself up for failure.  

Goals are extremely important if you want results. 

Without them, you’re directionless. 

Definitely set them.

But, just work out the ones that you’re going to be able to achieve, otherwise the little boss in your head will create more self doubt and this will in turn keep you in a perpetual cycle of failure. 

Setting yourself small bit seized goals is a great start.  


Whether your natural or goofy footer, the placement of your leg rope will always be on placed on your back leg.  

Reason for this, is to avoid any entanglement with the leg rope as you pop up to your feet.

When you place the leg rope on your back foot make sure the swivel is facing away from the body. 

This will help to keep legrope from getting in your way when you're popping up. 


Surf wax is temperature graded. 

Warm water wax is harder, colder water wax is softer. 

Being on the right surf wax for the water temperature will make sure you’ve got the maximum grip. 

Wax too hard, will feel really slippery and have no tac. 

Wax too soft, will move under your feet and feel like you’r smudging it. Making you feel you have zero grip on the board. 


With the right equipment, a little homework and the right tuition you can move through the beginner stages fairly quickly. 

The problem is most beginner surfer want to see overnight success. 

The learning cycle is a process and one you’ve got to endure before you start to see results. 

Try to embrace and accept this part of surfing,  it will be 10x more enjoyable if you do. 

After all, beginner surfers are the ones having the most fun.

I hope to see you out there, 



Ex WQS warrior, and all-round frother - Loz is the technical coaching queen at the House of Surf.

She is also a mindset and life coach and has a habit of living in her van way too much. 

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