Beginners surfers struggle catching waves for lack of timing and technique. It would seem as easy to catch a wave on a surf board as on a boogie board. Just jump in front and paddle.
The Important Things
Three things are really important. I find it is hard to get new students to lay on the board properly before they begin paddling for a wave. I teach students to roll over on the board before the wave arrives with the board pointing straight at the beach, their feet at the very back, and their body straight as a pencil in the middle balancing the board perfectly.
Surfers have to start paddling before the wave arrives to get momentum. Depending on the size and force of the foam wave, they have to start paddling hard before it arrives. When it hits the board it lifts the tail. Surfers have to paddle hard until the nose of the board rises.
A List of Mistakes
New students create all kinds of infractions. They don’t get their feet to the back so they pearl (nose under water). They don’t get the board pointed straight nor keep it going straight to the wave flips them. They don’t paddle hard enough to control the direction of the board so they flip.
Students don’t paddle long enough and put their hands on the board while the tail is still in the air on the foam and push the nose under. I teach students to put their hands on the board under their chest after they have caught the wave and push up evenly on both hands. Instead, as soon as they catch waves, they put both arms in the extended push up position on the rails and turn the board over.
It would seem like such an easy task to catch a wave, but when you break down the techniques and timing of it, it becomes a more complicated dance.
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