Beginner Surfer Q&A June 26 2017
As a surf instructor, I’m asked a lot of questions. Even though I meet people from all over the world, most of these questions are the same. Some of you haven’t quite committed to the world of surfing, so your queries are full of uncertainty, while others have taken the first step, but want more details on a variety of topics.
I absolutely love answering these questions, so I compiled a list of the most popular ones, just for you!
Q: “I’m older, can I still learn how to surf?”
A: Yes! You can learn to surf at any age, actually. Although you may think surfing is a sport best left to the groms (young kids), it’s a sport anyone can master. There’s a catch, though. As an adult, there are three things that can slow your learning curve: 1. Past injuries, 2. Inflexibility, 3. Mindset. Keep reading, because I’ll delve into how you can move past these adult road bumps.
Q: “I have an old injury, how will that affect my surfing?”
A: First, check with your doctor before you dive into this sport and make sure it’s safe for you to proceed. Old injuries can make us less flexible or cause discomfort during high-impact sports. With an instructor, you can learn how to modify your surf lesson to suit your needs. For example, an old back or knee injury may slow your pop-up. The solution? A bigger board and smaller waves. This will give you more time to get to your feet without stressing the injury.
Q: “What if I’m not athletic or good at balancing?”
A: Surfing will make you athletic and balanced! You’ll just have to be patient and work hard. Flexibility, core strength and shoulder power play a huge role during surfing. Most beginners don’t start with these qualities and that’s okay. With proper instruction and practice, you’ll get there. Because surfing isn’t a sport you can do consistently, you’ll have to put in some land work to progress during those flat or incredibly stormy days. Circuit workouts targeting your abs and shoulders (push-ups, surf pop-ups, planks, etc.) will address your strength needs. Yoga or deep-seated stretches will improve your flexibility and balance.
Q: “Are there sharks here?”
A: Yes, there are sharks in this area, as well as sea turtles, dolphins, manatees and several other amazing sea creatures! The most common types of sharks around here are blacktip, hammerhead, bonnethead, lemon, and bull sharks. Contrary to “Jaws” and every other media-related shark propaganda, sharks would rather avoid people altogether. Our surf instructors will teach you a few safety tips during your lesson to ensure you always have a safe session, such as avoiding surfing through “bait pods” (large schools of fish), paddling in areas near fishermen, and understanding shark body language (a shark cruising through will swim differently than one that’s hunting). Encounters/bites are extremely rare in this area and can be avoided using the tips above.
Q: “What does surf season look like in Florida and when is the best time to go out?”
A: This is a question requiring a several-layer answer, but I’ll keep it short. The surf season in Florida is late fall through early spring. Winter produces the most consistent swells, as the Atlantic is bustling with storm activity. Don’t despair if you’re a summer fan, though. Hurricane season runs August through October and can provide some of the largest waves in Northeast Florida. Water temperatures vary throughout the year here, dropping as low as 50 degrees in the dead of winter and jumping into the 70s and 80s during summer. Florida’s surf is unique and because our waves break on sandbars, the waves vary in form and size. Learning to surf here will make you a better surfer in the long-run, as you’ll experience various swells and learn to work with different and challenging conditions.
Q: “When will I be good at surfing?”
A: There’s a huge learning curve in the beginning stages of surfing. Everyone is a little different, but it boils down to persistency. The surfer who paddles out as often as possible, even when conditions aren’t ideal, will be the better surfer at the end of the day. Consistency, practice and patience are key. In my opinion, surfing is 50 percent physical (meaning your athletic ability and strength) and 50 percent mindset (your outlook, including determination and positivity). You’re not only dealing with your own elements, but nature’s elements. How you perceive your surf session affects your learning rate. If you paddle out and have a rough session, but glean a learning experience, you’ll be more likely to succeed next time. If you’re easily frustrated, it will hinder your progress. Also, the more you practice, the better surfing shape you’ll be in. In terms of time, though, the average learner masters the basics (paddling out, reading and catching waves) in anywhere from six months to a year, depending on consistency.
Q: “I’ve taken a lesson, now what?”
A: One lesson is great for an introduction, but there are several levels and techniques you can gain from additional lessons. More time in the water, especially with an instructor, eliminates the frustrating aspects of the learning phase. Because I taught myself to surf, I understand the grueling process of learning alone. I wish I could go back in time and get the six months I wasted floundering around and sign up for a surf series instead! It’s worth the investment. We offer a five-lesson surf series and a 10-lesson surf series. The series really encourages consistency and allows guidance. If you prefer self-learning, I encourage you to rent different types of boards and figure out what works best for you before you invest in buying one.
If you have more questions, call our surf school and sign up for a private lesson or class