Have you always wanted to learn how to surf? Summer’s here and the time is now! 

To help you prepare, we sat down with BeachSports owner and expert surfer Tommy Ostendorf who shared his tips and tricks for beginners. Whether you’ve already had your first lesson or are getting ready to dive in, these tips below will help you get started. 

  1. Choose the right equipment

“Many people think the goal is to ride a shortboard, so they either start on a board that’s too small or they transition to a shortboard too soon. My advice: ride the board that’s the most fun. As long as you’re respectful, no one cares what board you’re riding, so don’t worry about anyone else and just have fun in the water.” 


  1. Bend at the knees, not the waist

Always bend at the knees, not the waist. If you bend at your waist, you’ll have no balance and will fall off your board. All your progress including turning, cutting back, and much more comes from bending your knees and keeping your center of gravity low.


  1. Correct paddling placement is important

When paddling out, if you see water coming over the nose of your board, scoot back. If the front of your board is moving back and forth between your arms, move forward. Find the sweet spot on your board that feels like your board is planing flat on the water.


  1. Don’t ditch your board 

Hold onto your surfboard! Your board floats, so if you hold on I promise you’ll make it to the surface. Beginners ditching their surfboards while paddling out is probably the most common reason people get injured. You will either hit the person paddling behind you or hit the guy riding the wave. Please, hold onto your surfboard. 


  1. Timing is hard to learn, but you’ll get there

Timing is the hardest part of surfing and can only be learned by paying your dues, repetition. Once you’ve had a lesson, find an uncrowded area and just go catch as many waves as you can. You’re gonna eat it, a lot, and that’s ok. Try to analyze each wipeout and see if you can start to understand why you ended up with that result. Then try to correct it on the next one.

Did the nose go under? You probably caught the wave too late, meaning it was almost breaking or started to break while you were paddling for it, which lifted the tail and forced the nose under. People often confuse nose diving with being too far forward on the board, that’s rarely the case.

Did the wave pass under you, even though you paddled like crazy? Not your fault. The wave was probably too small or you were out a little too far. Paddle back out and try again.

You ultimately want to catch the wave and stand up before the wave breaks. You’ll know when you’ve timed a wave right – getting to your feet will feel easy and you’ll feel like you had plenty of time to get there.


Bonus Tip: Take a lesson with BeachSports! 

We have an incredible team of surf coaches in the South Bay who will help you learn to surf, and you’ll have a blast doing it! Sign up for surf lessons online here. 


Skip to content