Common Surfing Mistakes to Avoid

Many of you might think that the most common surfing mistakes first-time surfers make involve an embarrassing wipeout or painful injury. As a beginner, you can need to take note of these common surfing mistakes to avoid. However, you’d be surprised to hear that more of these mistakes come from overlooking some surfing basics.

In this article, we’ve listed the eight most common surfing mistakes beginner surfers like you might make and how to avoid them. With enough practice, you’ll be catching perfect waves in no time!

In this article:

  1. Overlooking Your Swimming Skills
  2. Not Getting Enough Stamina Training
  3. Choosing the Wrong Surfing Conditions
  4. Surfing with the Wrong Board
  5. Not Knowing How and Were to Paddle
  6. Badly Timing Your Pop up
  7. Popping up on the Wrong Spot of the Board
  8. Standing with an Incorrect Posture

8 Common Surfing Mistakes Beginners Make and How to Avoid Them

#1. Overlooking Your Swimming Skills

Going out surfing without honing your swimming skills first is a big mistake, especially if you’re a beginner. With that said, make sure you’ve honed your swimming skills before catching those waves.

Knowing just a few strokes isn’t going to cut it. Remember, you’ll be facing tall waves and deep waters out there, so your swimming abilities must be up to par.

Recovering after being thrown off by a massive wave is also an important skill to hone before riding your first wave. You can only do this with constant and diligent practice.

How to avoid this mistake: Make it a point to practice both basic and advanced swim strokes every day. Dedicate at least one hour of your day for exercising. Don’t surf until you’re sure of your skills.

2. Not Getting Enough Stamina Training

surf training

Every sport is physically demanding. Surfing is no exception. First-time surfers tend to underestimate just how tiring surfing can be.

It takes a lot of energy to paddle against the current and stand on your board to ride a wave. And to do it over and over again requires strength and stamina.

Don’t overlook your physical strength and stamina. Surfing is a physically demanding activity, so you have to make sure your body’s up for it.

How to avoid this mistake: Add strength training regular workout regimen. Exercising with dumbbells and doing a few weight lifts is an excellent way to start. You should also include endurance exercises to your workout so that you can stay in the water longer.

#3. Choosing the Wrong Surfing Conditions

It’s not easy to predict the weather, which makes it just as hard to tell if the conditions to surf are ideal (or not). If veteran surfers still find it hard to surf forecast, what more a beginner surfer like you?

Learning how to forecast surf conditions might sound advanced, but it’s simple and exciting. In surf forecasting, you’ll learn how the wind and swell work together to create the perfect wave, among other things.

It’s a skill that won’t just give you a better experience. Knowing the optimal conditions for surfing will also keep you safe when you go out into the water.

How to avoid this mistake: Start paying attention to daily weather reports. Learn more about surf forecasting through self-study. You can also consult surf forecast apps and websites to help you know when it’s best to surf in your area.

#4. Surfing with the Wrong Board

beginner surfing mistakes

One of the most common surfing mistakes beginners like you might make choosing the wrong surfboard. Keep in mind that the right surfboard should be proportional to your size, thickness, weight, and skill level.

For beginners, it’s better to start with longer surfboards as they’re more comfortable and safer to use. If you’re a little on the heavy side, opt for lightweight boards.

Apart from taking your height and weight into considerations, you should also choose a board based on the kind of waves you’ll be catching. Surfboards come in different shapes, which gives you a different surf experience based on the waves you’ll ride.

How to avoid this mistake: As a rule of thumb, first-time surfers should get boards that are longer, thicker, and heavier. The added length, thickness, and weight help you keep your balance in the water. You can transition to using a shortboard when you’re more experienced.

#5. Not Knowing How and Where to Paddle

Not knowing how and where to paddle is also among the most common surfing mistakes a beginner can commit. Paddling is an essential part of surfing as it’s your primary way of reaching the waves.

Knowing how to paddle is one thing, but knowing where to paddle to is another.

When you’re paddling out, steer clear of the whitewater. Also, make sure you’re out of other surfers’ way. They need their space, too!

How to avoid this mistake: Practice your paddling while you’re on dry land. Lay down on your surfboard and exercise your arms. When you’re in the water, paddle at least five meters past the whitewater before setting yourself up to ride a wave.

#6. Badly Doing Your Pop up


Catching your first wave is nothing less than exciting. However, the chance to ride that wave can quickly be ruined by a poorly-executed pop-up.

Among the common surfing mistakes beginner surfers make is to use their knees to pop-up on their surfboards. When you notice yourself doing this, stop!

Popping up with your knees slows you down and decenters your weight. Remember, popping up on your surfboard should be quick and precise.

The more precise your pop-up, the better your surf experience will be.

How to avoid this mistake: Your pop-up should be like a push-up. Keep your body centered and legs together. Land your hands and chest flat on the board. When you’re ready to pop-up, use your hands to push against your surfboard in one quick, smooth motion. Remember, land on your feet and not on your knees. Practice this motion when you’re on dry land until you master it.

#7. Popping up on the Wrong Spot of the Board

Even if you’ve nailed the pop-up maneuver, popping up on the wrong spot of your board can keep you from riding the perfect wave.

Where you stand on your surfboard affects your overall balance. If you’re not careful, a foot in the wrong spot could spell an instant wipeout.

How to avoid this mistake: When you pop-up, make sure to stand at the center of your surfboard. You can use a piece of tape to mark your board’s center point. As for your feet, keep the feet parallel to each other and the surfboard.

#8. Standing with an Incorrect Posture

surfing basics

As a beginner, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed when you’re about to break through a wave. The sudden adrenaline rush induces panic, which can make your body go rigid.

Being tense with your shoulders hunched forward isn’t the best way to stand on your surfboard. Bad surfing posture gives you less control of the board, making you prone to wipeouts.

How to avoid this mistake: Right after you pop-up and land on your feet, keep your body low. Crouch down and bend from your hips. Keep your body relaxed and shoulders loose. Make sure your shoulders follow the centerline of your surfboard.

As a novice surfer, have you committed any of the common surfing mistakes in this article? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

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