Surfing is a complex sport that is most favored in the UK but is also appealing worldwide. It is a sport that’s known for changing lives just by developing an interest in it.
Seeing someone who is able to ride the waves with a steady position is inspiring and looks awesome, but before a surfer even gets to ride a wave, they have to paddle their way to the line-up first and wait for the waves to come.
To summarize, nailing the basics of paddling is essential to a safe and successful surfing experience. For those who love challenging themselves and want to get on a professional surfer’s level, just keep reading and let these steps be the first guide to your goal.
Five Tips on Improving Paddling Techniques
ALWAYS FIND THE CORRECT POSITION ON THE SURFBOARD
If there’s any mistake that most surfers don’t realize when they are paddling, it’s that they are unable to distinguish if they are correctly positioned on their surfboards.
- As all the basic guides on paddling stated, correct positioning is everything. Having the correct position on the long or short board drags or minimizes the surfer’s resistance, so he or she is able to slide through the water smoothly and avoid an early wipe-out.
- Always keep in mind that horizontal and vertical positions alone can produce different results when riding the surfboard. It’s another thing whenever a surfer decides to shift their body weight in order to keep their balance and proceed to surfing.
- It’s perfectly fine to take time into getting the perfect position on the surfboard as both longboards and shortboards have that one spot where surfers can find the perfect balance.
There are several factors that affect a surfer’s balance on their surfboards, and one of the uncontrollable factors is related to the strength and direction of the wind, which affects the strength of the waves.
It takes an experienced surfer to nail the necessary paddling skills in order to have control of their boards when faced with unavoidable conditions.
AVOID DOING SHORT PADDLES
Professional surfers are trained to have perfect control of their bodies through a daily routine, which helps them gain an advantage when it comes to going steady on their surfboards.
Their skills shine the most when it’s time to catch a wave and avoiding short paddling movements is one of the techniques that they use.
- Doing short, quick motions are only effective for also a short period of time. Always opt for a long and full range movement to cover a lot of ground as it enables the surfer to push forward with greater force.
- Stay calm at all times and do not get intimidated by the incoming waves. Consistently paddling at the waiting area lets the surfer get a head start and lets them know if they are on a good spot to catch and slide onto the incoming waves immediately.
Being able to catch a wave is one thing, but riding it is where the real test begins for any surfer. Some waves are a great challenge, and some are too difficult to ride. There are even rare waves that top each other.
Always know that the waves will never adjust for the surfer and that surfers should be equipped with the proper knowledge just in case a wipe-out happens.
DO NOT TREAT THE SURFBOARD AS A HEADREST
Always remember that surfing is a sport, and it also takes years of consistent practice to get used to. Taking it easy and having a set time for practicing helps the human body get used to the feeling little by little.
- Surfers need to have their elbows up high or bent and not make unnecessary movements with their heads. Head movement affects the rest of the surfer’s body parts, which greatly affects their position. And, incorrect elbow positioning causes a lot of splashing and slows down a surfer’s momentum.
- Do not attempt to surf while feeling tired. Even if the surfing spot is not deep enough to drown a surfer, never underestimate the waves for they are still capable of breaking the bones in the human body.
- Get out of the water for a time-out. Rest for a while if fatigue is catching up and the feeling of slight dizziness or nausea is present. All sports require their players to stay hydrated at all times and surfing is not an exception to the rule.
AVOID ROCKING OR DOING “THE MARIO” MOVEMENT
Is this a Nintendo reference? Yes, except doing “The Mario” in surfing terms refer to surfers rocking their bodies from side to side, causing them to lose balance and fall off their surfboards.
- Rocking movements cause disruption to different positions of the body and also causes the surfboard to be an unstable platform to ride on.
- Surfers always make sure that their bodies are close enough to their boards and that includes their feet. Keeping both feet flat on the board allows a surfer to gain control of the board’s direction, and if partnered with proper paddling techniques, precision is easy to achieve.
Speaking of movements, there are also several bad habits that surfers have, and here are some of the most common ones:
- Hunch Backing – this happens when the surfer loses balance on their boards and they have a tendency to bend forward lower than expected.
- The T-Rex – when feeling tensed, some surfers tend to pull their arms close to their body and pose like a T-Rex.
- Helicopter Arming – imagine a character doing a t-pose while surfing. That alone covers the helicopter part. But as for the arming part, the motion is just a surfer doing a t-pose while almost spinning or moving their arms back and forth in a circular manner.
– This habit makes a surfer look stiff and it doesn’t allow room for much movement and board control.
- The Pogo Stick – when the surfer’s feet are too close to each other, limiting control and body weight are impossible to transfer.
- The Reverse Wiggle – this one of the most common habits that surfers do when they are unable to read the waves. It causes the surfer to lose speed and a wipe-out occurs without fail.
- Squatting – the complete opposite of the pogo stick stance. Squatting happens when surfers have a wide stance while riding the waves.
KNOW THE RULES AND NEVER TRESSPASS ON ANOTHER SURFER’S WAVE
Many beginners tend to learn about surfing through movies, television, and other social media platforms that lead to creating myths about the sport and make coaches groan in disappointment.
- Surfing is known for being a complex sport, but the rule of riding one wave solo isn’t. Attempting to ride a wave that’s being ridden on by another surfer is frowned upon, and being a beginner is not a valid excuse for diving in.
- Diving in on another surfer’s wave is not only disrespectful, but it can also cause serious damage to the surfboards if a collision happens.
- Surfers enjoy the feeling of riding a wave successfully, but communication is also important between two surfers in some circumstances. Waves are able to form one straight line and they are also able to split into two. Talking about which side to take while waiting for the wave is the most efficient way for both parties to have a rad surfing experience.
- Surfers know better than abandoning their surfboards even after experiencing a wipe-out. They know the risks of leaving their surfboards as this surfing equipment is made out of material that’s sharp enough to harm the human body.
Just for extra reminders, these are the dangers that a surfboard can pose when abandoned:
- The nose or front and tail or back parts of a surfboard is the first thing to take into consideration when thinking of possible accidents that can happen after abandoning one. Both parts are usually made out of foam, but most customized boards are made up of entirely different material.
- Heavier longboards obviously have the potential to deal more damage than the usual store bought longboards that are lighter.
- Another part of the board that is not thought and seen to be a threat is the rails. It may just be the sides of the board, but once the waves send it off flying, the edges can either execute a light or a heavy blow and cause bruises to a surfer’s body or worse, leave a surfer with broken bones.
- Always wear a helmet at all times to prevent head injuries, as surfboards that are sent off flying high onto the air can cause severe head injuries when it lands on someone’s head.
- The surfboard’s bottom part is made to be sturdy, and by this we mean it’s made out of material that can cause unconsciousness and several head injuries if it hits hard enough.
- The surfboard has fins and is the part responsible for sending surfers to hospitals with severe lacerations that require complex operations.