What I would do differently if I started surfing NOW

I have been riding waves all of my life for as long as I can remember. A question popped into my mind today. What would I do differently if I started surfing NOW at 30 years old? I was able to come up with several things I would do if I were someone wishing to learn how to surf as an adult. Here is a list of things I suggest that you can do to work towards learning to surf when you aren’t a kid anymore. Follow this step by step guide to master the art of catching waves later in life! (Also note, I recommend hiring a trained professional while trying any of these new activities.)

  1. Get a coach and learn the fundamentals. Watch tutorials and decide what kind of surfer you want to be. Decide what kinds of waves you want to catch and what size board you will be happiest and most successful riding as a beginner. Begin your surfing experience paddling (with supervision!) at your own pace in calm, flat, water on a longboard if you have no prior experience on a surfboard. By paddling in flat water first, you will discover your center, find your balance, and understand your glide. 
  2. Buy your very own surfboard.. And not simply any old surfboard, INVEST in a surfboard. Invest in a QUALITY surfboard that can be ridden anywhere, by you, in any conditions. Make sure your first surfboard maximizes your floatation  and stability. The most important goal in beginning to surf is to get a board that will float your weight evenly and is easy to stand up on. Be sure that the board you’ll be using to practice on supports your own unique balance & coordination. Focus on purchasing a board that will help your ability or lack of ability to balance and paddle as a beginner. For example, this chart copied from surfboardsdirect.com.au provides a visual for choosing the right size board for your height and weight. If you are a naturally big human, you are going to need more height, width, and volume in the board you are riding to support your weight evenly over the water. If you are over 250 pounds,  you are most likely going to need a board larger than 10ft to start. Attempting to ride a board that is too small for you will hinder your progress tremendously. Treat your surfboard like you would treat your best friend. Learn how to care properly for your board. Rinse it off with fresh water after each session, learn how to hold your board properly, don’t ding it up, and store it in a cool, dry place. Perhaps invest in a board sock, for example, www.puravidaboardgear.com offers talented, hand made custom board socks to protect your board with. This artist features soft, colorful fabrics from Costa Rica. She is a private seamstress, an awesome friend, and a way to support small businesses in surf communities around the world 🙂  Once you’ve obtained the right surfboard for your height and weight, and complete step #3, you will you get in shape and shed weight fast!
  3. Paddle in flat water as much as you can. This way, you will discover your center, find your balance, and understand your glide. Here is an example of a perfect day to practice paddling:By paddle training on a regular basis,  you will shed weight, gain muscle strength, and become agile enough transition into paddling into waves on your own. You need to be practicing paddling as often as possible in order to transition into catch waves. Ask yourself, “Do I want to catch waves?” If so, build the endurance that your arms need and paddle for exercise often. You cant catch waves with weak arms, a stiff back, or tired achy issues.. so paddle for 30 minutes a day at your own pace every day or as much as possible for 6 months. (See down below for a video on how to paddle at the gym if you don’t have immediate access to the ocean) Start now!
  4. EAT HEALTHY.. Eat fruit, nuts, whole grains, seeds, granola, fish, smoothie bowl, protein shake, veggies, ect. Be wise about what you eat and you will reap the benefits! Eat soft, easily digestible food before you surf and make sure to move your bowels before you paddle out. I am constantly posting health tips via pinterest, facebook, ect. so stay tuned for healthy eating habits and ideas. Check em out! @surfgirlbrit
  5. Get unafraid of waves! So?  You eat healthy and paddle every day, but wince at the sight of a crashing wave because your positioning is wrong?  We all go through this at some point on our journey to the next level in surfing. Getting in tune with the timing of the ocean is the most important skill to manifest your surfing ability. Study the ocean! Watch your local surf breaks and watch how the advanced surfers navigate their way in and out to the lineup. Identify where the channel is located. This is very important for your safety and the safety of others surfing. Do not paddle back out to the lineup through the impact zone. It is common sense to re-enter the channel to make your way back out to the lineup after each wave attempt. Always be alert in exiting the impact zone, back into the channel, and out of the way!
  6. Look at your surf break every single day! Whether it’s flat, small, medium, large, or  XXL, you must see where the waves are coming from, the placement of the reef or sandbar, in what direction the waves are coming from, the direction of the current, how the waves form over the reef or sandbars, and which way the wind is coming from. Seeing and recording these variations will help you understand how to enter the water, paddle up to the set waves, exit the impact zone, and line yourself back up for your next wave. Observe where the impact zone is located and where the safe zone is located. 
  7.  Get out your waterproof stopwatch, obtain a brick or heavy rock, and then sink with it in an area you feel most comfortable in the swimming pool. Has it been awhile since you swam in the family pool?  Now you have a reason and a new purpose to get in there with a fun training activity. See how long you can go and set goals. Meditate underwater and resurface for air when needed. Run with the heavy object underwater if you are able to do so. If you ears hurt down there, plug your nose, and blow your nose while plugged. This will release the air pressure built up in your ears. If the deep end is too much for you, you can also do this in shallower water to start, but to gain underwater pressure strength, I recommend slightly deeper water. Also, the pool or the flat, clear ocean is a great place to practice your diving underwater skills. Practice this plenty too! Make sure you are supervised during this exercise also. Remember, safety first! Don’t try any of these excercises if you are unskilled in the ocean without professional supervision.
  8. Ride the faces of the waves on your belly (in small waves, away from other people, and with assistance!) until you feel comfortable enough to stand up. If the glide feels good, then begin to attempt to stand up. Don’t be ashamed to belly ride, just cruise and ride a small wave on your stomach a few times to get the feeling of something new. It helps you understand how the board moves and positioning yourself in the glide. If youre nervous and it doesnt feel good, dont force it, ride the wave on your belly until it ends and paddle back out for another one. Most importantly, stay out of other people’s way. If you’ve followed this blog step by step, by now you have fine turned your paddling, balance, diving, ocean awareness, and breath holding, so now you can start to ride waves on your feet:
  9. Take a surf lesson from someone once a week or from multiple instructors a few times a week. Documenting your surfing progress with pictures is also a great way to improve. You should seek to find an instructor who isn’t just pushing you into waves, but instead someone who’s helping improve your weaknesses, builds your confidence, motivates you, and helps you with your understanding about the ocean. In addition to taking lessons, read up on surf blogs, tips, tricks, ect., tune into ocean seminars and KEEP PADDLING as much as possible!
  10.   Make sure you that you are carrying the proper tools with you in your vehicle for spontaneous paddle training sessions or surf sessions.  Here is a list of gear to always have with you at all times: your surfboard, wetsuits, wax, first aid kit, fin set, fin key, towels, 2-3 one gallon jugs of water, cellphone, 2 leashes, change of warm clothes, swimsuits, rash guard, and some dry snacks.
  11. Forget about what other people think about your surfing. If you are simply paddling on a board for exercise, no one is going to judge you. Let’s face it, you are not going to get good at surfing in just one day. Everyone has to start somewhere. Get out there and at the very least, go paddling in flat water to motivate your body and mind if you want to eventually gain ability and success in standing up someday. Paddle, Paddle Paddle!  Go paddle with a friend who surfs or anyone willing to watch or practice paddling with you. Learn how to swim laps in a pool. This will give you not only more strength in your surfing abilities, but also more confidence.
  12. Watch other surfers surfing before you decide to paddle out as a beginner and most importantly, learn the etiquette of dropping in before you join others.  As ready as you may feel after some time spent paddle training, you better know how to stay out of the way of advanced surfers before you join in with them. Study the chart above and live by it. Dont paddle out at certain places if you know you’re a kook. Go to the places where beginners surf. Find out where those places are at near you. I hope this blog has helped you to get motivated to learn surfing or become a better surfer/coach/mentor! Aloha from Oahu, Hawaii!!
  13. Try this exercise at the gym for paddling strength and endurance:
  14. Keep exercising! Do as much physical workout and cardio as possible. Here is another fun workout idea for getting in good surfing shape:
  15. Most of all be patient with yourself and your surfing goals. 
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