New surfers often want to try surfing without a surf lesson. Even new students in Oceanside Surf Lessons say they didn’t realize how difficult surfing is to learn and would be most impossible without instructions.

Learning the Basics in a Surf Lesson

The point of a surf lesson is to learn enough so students can practice on their own. There are several basic fundamentals and techniques.

What seems easy in the dry land part are not so easy in the water. You would think getting on the surf board in the right spot and paddling to catch a wave would be as easy as a boogie board. Its not.

surf lesson
ideal beginner riding posture

Students should roll over on top of a soft top surf board with their feet at the back, the nose in the middle and adjust their weight with their butt. If a student is not straight as a pencil and in the middle, the board turns over quickly when they paddle in a foam wave.

Catching waves is not as simple as it looks. Lots of times beginners want to jump on the board when its close and then paddle. To properly catch a wave, all surfers paddle before the wave arrives in an easy pace and then paddle hard after the wave starts pushing the board.

The timing of popping up is the most difficult part for students. I see beginners learning on their own jumping up before the wave even arrives. Patience is required and I try to get students to be calm and develop a rhythm. Paddle, catch the wave, and then pop up.

The Pop UP

The advanced pop up seen executed by surfers on film is difficult for beginners. The surfers catch a wave and then bring both feet to the board in the middle with their bodies weight equal on both sides of the middle stringer.

New students have difficult with the specific muscles and flexibility required to get their front foot to the middle of the board, which is 90% of a pop up. (see video below)

I have beginners do a beginner pop up that is easy on the muscles. Flexibility still helps, but they don’t need as much upper body and core strength.

The pop up is a four count where paddling to catch the wave is one. Putting both hands on the board under the chest like a push up is two. When the board is stable, the beginner pushes up and brings their back foot to the board by sliding their knee forward and just laying the edge of the foot on the board so they can stand on it.

Then the student stands on the back foot as they bring the front foot to the middle of the board and their hands up in one motion so both hands are in front of their body. It is important that shoulders and hips are squared to the front so that weight is equal on both sides of the board.

The reason most beginners fall off is because they have their butt over one rail which is like snow boarders and skate boarders ride. They get in this position by allowing one shoulder and that hand to trail instead of being square to the front.

Riding the Surf Board

If the surfers feet and body are in the right position, riding is easy.

The feet should be shoulder width apart with the front foot in the middle of the board at preferably a 45 degree angle forward. The back foot should be perpendicular to the two rails.

The knees should be flexed to absorb bumps. The shoulders and hips are facing forward with both hands in front of the body.

If the board goes straight with little work required, the student’s body is on the board properly. Students should master riding foam waves near shore before they paddle out ride bigger foam waves and real waves.


For surf lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page

See my dry land lesson with easy water demonstration 

See a good video on How to Catch Waves

Oceanside Surf Lessons