Top Ten Tips for Beginner Surfers - Maui Surfer Girls
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Top Ten Tips for Beginner Surfers

Have you caught the surfing bug? It’s pretty contagious. We’ve all come down with a fairly bad case of it ourselves. It’s probably chronic.

We’ve gone ahead and written out some of our Top Tips for Beginner Surfers, which will help to ease some of your symptoms. These tips are courtesy of some of our instructors, read more about them on our ‘Meet the Team’ page.

Kelly Potts’ Tips:

Find your Landmarks!  Mahalo to Joe West for sharing this image (click image for his website!)

1) Line up the peak with landmarks. Whatever peak you decide to surf at, it’s good to make sure you’re not floating away from the good spot for catching waves. Once you have good landmarks lined up, your wave count will increase significantly. That’s one thing I see a lot of beginners doing is floating away from the peak without even realizing it, then they lose all their energy paddling for waves that they can’t catch because they aren’t in the right spot to get them.

2) Keep your eyes up when you surf. From the second you drop in to a wave your eyes should be looking as far down the face of the wave as possible, especially as you are getting to your feet. Wherever you look is where you’re going to go, so when you look down, you’re going down. When you keep your eyes locked on your destination, your body is more intuitive and naturally finds its proper balance. EYES UP!

Slow it Down! Enjoy the ride…

3) Slow it down. You’ve probably heard of the surfing “pop up” with an abrupt jump to your feet. Jerky movements in a pop-up are the cause of most wipe-outs. Take your time getting settled to your feet (with hands down on the board) until you feel confident in your stance (then hands come up). Don’t feel rushed. When you slow things down you give your body time to recognize what feels right and balanced. You will naturally grow faster at getting to your feet without thinking about having to get up faster. It’s like slow love-making with the ocean. Enjoy the glide!


Raye Teyssier’s Tips

(Raye is one of our seasonal instructors, catch some waves with her when you are on Oahu, she’s one of the instructors with the Hans Hedemann Surf School)  

4) Breathe!  Typically beginners can get rushed by the waves, the crowds, the adrenaline, the excitement… the best thing you can do for your surfing is slow down and take a breath or two. It will help you be more relaxed (and therefore ride better and longer). As your surfing progresses, you may feel overwhelmed at times, and it’s good to remind yourself regularly to slow down. Progress doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t be in too much of a hurry; make every moment count by enjoying it!

that’s Raye on the left!

5) Find a spot to call your own, then paddle out. Every day.  Knowing a break inside and out will not only help you catch more waves, it will give you confidence. Learn how your spot breaks in high tide, east swell, big surf, whatever. On flat days, snorkel the reef.  Get to know the locals there, and let them get to know you. Once you are ‘locked in’ at your break and know where to sit in any conditions, you’ll be surprised to find you can read other, shiftier spots better.

Lucy Woodward’s Tips:

6) Find a friend. There is nothing better than having a friend to surf with. Early morning sessions are way more motivational when you have some one to go with or meet. Find some one that is around your skill level so you feel comfortable going to the same surf locations. Progressing with a friend is a great way to improve. Having a hard time finding a surf buddy? Check out for surfers in your area looking for other surfers!

Find a friend or ten! Four legged friends count too…

7) Cross Train.  When you first start surfing you might feel really weak and exhausted after every session. It takes a bit of time to build up your paddling power and ocean stamina.  Nothing is better than this but surfing. However you can’t always hit the water after work, so indulge in some cross training. Doing just ten pushups a day can improve arm strength.  Make sure to work out your full body, focusing on core, back and shoulder area.

Photo Credit: Lauren Stirpe

8) Own It! Being a new surfer can be extremely intimidating, especially as a female surfer.  It can be hard to overcome the feeling that you don’t belong in the water or you aren’t good enough. Own your surf prowess and channel your inner mermaid and hit the water;  the only way to get better at surfing is to surf.  Everyone started somewhere, just because uncle has been out there for forty years doesn’t mean the waves are any more his than yours.  It is okay to make mistakes. Just remember your etiquette, be polite and stay positive.

9)Find the Right Board. All too often people learn on boards that are the wrong size (usually to small). It is important to gradually down size (if smaller is where you want to go). IF you aren’t a consistent surfer its okay to keep surfing on big, learner longboards.  Mastering one board before you move down in size makes the transition better and your surfing smoother.

10) Have Fun!  Be safe out on the water and always remember the goal is to have a great time!

Raye Teyssier shows off some of her moves…

See you out on the water! 

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