How to get better at surfing

Want to know exactly what to focus on to get better at surfing?

This detailed guide will take you step-by-step through all the things you can do to accelerate your surfing progression.

We’ll cover finding the best waves, board selection, training and mindset, with the ultimate goal of helping you catch more waves, perform better turns and skyrocket your performance.

Let’s dive straight into how to get better at surfing with accurate, honest advice from someone trying to do the same thing.

how to get better at surfing

How do you find the best waves?

One of the quickest ways to get better at surfing is to make sure you’re giving yourself the right opportunities.

Understanding and actively searching for the best conditions and wave size for your current level will speed up your progression.

For example, if you’re just learning to surf, paddling out at a barrelling reef break will not improve your surfing, just create a dangerous situation.

You don’t need to become a pro surf forecaster to understand how wind and swell affect the waves you surf, just some simple tips I’ll cover now.

Just staring out with this whole surfing thing? Don’t miss our in-depth guide on how to find the best surf conditions for beginners where we take you step-by-step through how to read a surf report.

Understanding the difference between onshore and offshore wind

When surfers talk about onshore and offshore wind it simply refers to which way the wind is blowing.

  • Onshore wind is blowing from the sea towards the land
  • Offshore wind is blowing from the land towards the sea

Use the images below for a real-life example or head over to our guide on offshore vs onshore wind for a deeper look into the wind and how it affects waves.

For now, let’s focus on how this is going to help you get better at surfing.

In the early stages of your surfing journey, you’re going to want to always try and surf when the winds are very light or offshore.

Why? Because offshore winds help groom the waves and make them ‘clean’ as opposed to when the wind is onshore making the waves jumbled and ‘messy’.

Clean waves are much easier to predict, catch and surf and are without a doubt the best conditions to improve your surfing initially.

Onshore winds can be good for surfing as you start to progress but it often comes with shorter rides, longer paddle outs and lower wave quality.

Use a popular surf report like Surfline or Magicseaweed to check what the conditions are going to be like at your local beach.

If it’s blowing strong onshore consider travelling a bit further afield to find some shelter or a surf spot that faces the right direction for the wind to be offshore.

Surfing when the waves are the right size

Making sure your putting yourself in the right sized waves for your ability can be the difference between a great time and a near drowning.

Surfing when the waves are 3-5ft is ideal for when you’re trying to start to perform new surf tricks like cutbacks, snaps and carves.

Surfing when the waves get bigger is heaps of fun but it involves a lot more paddling and waiting for the right set waves.

What’s the best surfboard for my body size and ability?

Surfers and more specifically surfboard shapers have been using a metric called volume to identify the best board for any given surfer based on their surfing ability and body weight.

Surfboard volume is measured in litres and you’ll sometimes hear it referred to as ‘litreage’.

Here are some of our favourite surfboard volume calculators you can find online, just pop in your details and it will give you a rough idea of what volume you should be aiming for when you get your next surfboard.

Don’t miss our guide on buying a second-hand surfboard packed full of tips to help you find your next favourite ride.

What’s the best way to train for surfing?

It’s already fairly well known that the health benefits of surfing make it an excellent choice for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

But if you really want to get better at surfing fast, you need to start changing your lifestyle out of the ocean as well.

Improving your strength, balance and flexibility on dry land is perfect for making the most of your precious time actually riding waves.

We’re all different and how you train for surfing is a personal choice. Some of the most common ways are:

  • Swimming
  • Strength training
  • Martial arts
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Skateboarding

Aim to increase your core strength to improve your carves and power turns and your balance and flexibility to help with those critical off the lips and floaters.

It’s crazy what surfing can do to your body in a short time and if you combine this with a great program out of the water you’ll be doing everything you can to fast-track your progression.

We’ve got a full guide on how to practice surfing at home packed full of great ideas you can incorporate into your surf training.

What is a surfing mindset?

To excel in your surfing progression as fast as possible you need to sleep, think and breathe surfing.

A surfing mindset is simply focused on catching and finding more waves and riding them to the best of your ability. This can translate to a better diet, watching surfing clips to get inspiration, doing some squats to strengthen up or even just surfing more regularly.

Better yet the more you surf the more you’re going to want to do it, like a healthy addiction.

Surfing makes your brain release a mix of feel-good chemicals that make you happier and help you feel content.

Once you start to surf regularly your brain will start to associate surfing with feeling good and before you know it you’ll be dropping everything just to catch the next good ground swell.

Conclusion

Now you’re all set to get better at surfing as fast as humanly possible. Make sure you put yourself in the best conditions with the best equipment.

Stay focused on trying to surf as much as possible and taking steps to get stronger when you can’t surf.

Get all of this right and you can quickly start learning and mastering some of surfing most iconic manoeuvres.