Surfing is one of the most enjoyable sports out there. But like all sports, it takes practice and skill to truly master it. Whether you’re a good surfer or a complete beginner the only wave to improve is by catching more waves and surfing on a regular basis.
Even if you’ve been surfing since childhood there are probably some tips here that may surprise you and could transform your surfing for the better.
Let’s take a look at 10 quick tips to help you catch more waves next time you go to the beach or wave pool.
Check the Surf Report
Unless you’re lucky enough to live overlooking your local surf break you’ll likely be like the rest of us having to rely on a surf report if we want any kind of certainty of getting some waves to catch.
A surf report is a document that details the current conditions at any given beach and can help you plan your surf accordingly.
Surf reports typically include information on wind, tide and swell size, as well as the exact location of waves breaking within a particular time period (usually in real-time).
The majority of surf reports now offer live webcams so you can check the waves and even see how crowded the line-up is.
The way that different beaches break can vary greatly from one another based on things like an orientation toward open ocean swells, swell period and wind direction so checking the report ahead of time can save you a lot of heartbreak and wasted fuel.
Practice surfing at home
A balance board is a great tool for practising your pop-up. They’re small and light, so you can take them with you to the beach or on surf trips and they’re a great way to give your core a quick workout and improve your balance.
You can opt for something along the lines of an Indo Board or a cheaper alternative from Amazon, if you’re DIY-minded you can even knock one up yourself with not too much effort.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to get your pop-up perfect before heading out into the real world and trying to catch waves. But don’t worry: there’s no need to wait until then!
You can easily practice your pop-up at home virtually anywhere. If you’re starting out you might find it helpful to lay your surfboard out alongside you to make sure you’re getting your foot positioning right as you pop up.
Important note! Do not practice your pop-up on your surfboard, while you may see instructors doing it with foamies on the beach treating your poor fibreglass surfboard like this will cause untold damage.
Bodyweight exercises are also great preparation for surfing since they improve flexibility and balance while strengthening muscles at the same time.
You can opt for squats, planks, lunges, push-ups and any other variety of bodyweight exercises to help prepare your body for the rigours of surfing. If you can get access to a rowing machine they are perfect for working the exact muscles that help you paddle harder and catch more waves.
Yoga or even skateboarding can be a good way of testing out your balance while you’re not in the water.
If you’re skateboarding try to find a gradually sloping hill that you can practice on, start by going straight then move on to shifting your weight from left to right to simulate carving on a surfboard.
For Yoga, there’s pretty much an infinity of videos on YouTube or you can look up a local instructor and book an introductory class.
Want to know more? Check out our comprehensive guide on how to practice surfing at home.
Swimming to help you catch more waves
If swimming is not a part of your surf training routine, it’s time to make it one.
Swimming can improve all aspects of surfing performance, including paddling power and speed, fitness levels and body composition (especially when combined with a good surfing diet that emphasizes the right foods), flexibility, endurance and resistance to fatigue.
You don’t have to be great at swimming to get a whole lot of benefits for your paddling. Either head to your local pool during an open swimming session or for a much more authentic and arguably more helpful experience you can head to the beach.
Swimming in and around waves is a great way of building your confidence, familiarizing yourself with how waves break and building up your stamina to help you catch more waves next time your in with your surfboard.
Learn to read waves and the line-up
Understanding how different beaches, swells and wind conditions affect how waves look and perform is a critical step to catching more waves. If you can read the ocean you can put yourself in the best possible position for incoming sets and navigate wide bombs that catch everyone else by surprise.
Don’t be afraid to ask other surfers why the waves are like this on one day and that on another, never overlook how much you can learn from other more experienced surfers.
Combine this with understanding the surf report as we mentioned earlier and you’ll quickly get better at predicting not only where to surf but when to go.
Try surfing in onshore winds
Surfing in onshore conditions is a great way of testing your fitness and catching more waves. When waves arrive with the wind behind them (onshore) they tend to have a much lower swell period (the time between each wave).
This means you’ll be duck diving a lot more but you’ll also be able to catch loads of waves, even if the rides are shorter.
Surfing when it’s onshore also means there will be fewer surfers in the water giving you an opportunity to have the pick of the waves.
Find out more in our short read, is onshore wind good for surfing?
The guys from How To Rip break down why it’s good to get down and dirty with bad conditions at your local surf spot.
Head to quiet surf spots
It goes without saying that surfing beaches or reefs with fewer people will help you catch more waves, but how do you get away from the hustle and bustle of the busier spots?
Google Maps is a great way of scouring the coast for potential new spots. Don’t be afraid to embrace your wild side and hit the coast path when a good swell hits.
If you want to learn to surf, wave pools are a great place to start. They allow you to practice your surfing skills without being out in the open ocean where there might be other people around. and you can guarantee you’ll catch some waves during your session.
Wave pools are also good places for practising new tricks and honing your existing ones. These types of facilities can be expensive though; some of them charge per hour or session which could add up pretty quickly.
If possible though I suggest trying out these kinds of facilities at least once just for the experience. They’re very helpful when starting out when you’re trying to perfect surfing along the open face of the wave.
Book a surf trip
If you’re in the mood for a change of scenery, book a surf trip. You’ll get to experience new spots and focus on your surfing.
Wherever you choose to go, make sure it’s compatible with your level of experience. There are lots of options out there, you can find anything from beginner-friendly waves to challenging breaks filled with pros!
Plan ahead for the winter months if necessary! If it’s cold where you live now, consider booking your room early so that when the weather starts cooling off, there will be less competition for accommodation near popular beaches during peak season (which tends to run from April through September).
Consider a surfboard with more volume
If you’re a beginner who’s tired of getting bogged down and left behind when you’re paddling for waves, get a surfboard with more volume. Surfboards with more volume are easier to paddle which makes it much easier for you to get up to speed when you’re trying to catch a wave.
Better yet when the waves are small the extra volume really helps you fly over those flat sections and can help you with the lump and bump of onshore or backwashy waves.
Although there may be some initial resistance from those who prefer traditional boards over grovellers or longboards because they believe these shapes aren’t ideal for beginners at first glance–there’s nothing quite like being able to ride big waves on an oversized board!
Join a surf club or enter a surf competition
Joining a surf club is a great way to meet like-minded people, share knowledge and learn from each other. Surfing clubs are also a fantastic way to get advice from more experienced surfers.
Competitions encourage you to improve your surfing skills and give you something to work towards. If you don’t want to compete but would rather just enjoy some friendly rivalry with your friends or family members then joining an informal competition could be perfect, you can even set one up yourself.
We hope these tips will help you catch more waves and have a great time surfing! Remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends or instructors if you need it.