5 very basic mistakes beginning surfers can avoid

From your home to the beach, there are many mistakes that almost every surfer is guilty of. After all, we were all beginners one point.

Check out this list of some very basic common mistakes we see all the time. So if you’re brand new to surfing, take notes.

Loading the car the proper way

While we don’t recommend loading your car to this extent, at least they’re pointed the right way. Photo: Connor Murphy/Unsplash

The first step to learning to surf is obviosuly loading your board onto your car. I’ll be the first to admit that I used to strap my board onto my car backward (e.g. fin pointed toward the rear of the car), not realizing there was a right or wrong way to load it.

You should always put the fin pointed toward the front of the car, simply because if the straps become loose hopefully the fin will catch and prevent the board from flying into traffic. Whether or not this works, I hope I will never find out.

Putting on your wetsuit right

Getting your suit on can also double as a nice stretch. Photo: Austin Neill/Unsplash

I took my friend surfing for the first time and she tried to put her wetsuit on inside out, so I explained to her that the logos should show on the outside (despite those bright colors that often adorn the inside of your suit).

Then she started pulling her suit on backwards, with the zipper in front. She flipped the suit around and finally managed to pull the whole sticky thing on: logos on the outside, bright colors on the inside and traditional zipper in the back.

However, if you happen to have a chest-zip wetsuit (where it zips right on your chest near your collar bone), then obviously the the zipper goes in the front.

Her last beginner move was pulling on her booties over her wetsuit. Always tuck things like booties, hoods and gloves into the suit so they don’t flood with water. After a fun session, she was pulling her suit off and accidentally punched herself in the chin … so we recommend taking things slow right out of the water. Luckily there was no blood.

Getting your board ready to shred

Always make sure your gear is dialed and being used properly. Photo: Mark Harpur/Unsplash

Wax, fins and leashes can seem complicated when you are new to the sport. The purpose of waxing your board is to prevent slipping off when riding. You should always wax the deck (top) of your board, not the bottom (a common mistake that people with skiing/snowboard backgrounds might tend to do). Even foam-top boards can get slick in the water, so wax those too.

And we’ve all probably put our fin on backwards once or twice in our surf lives, so always make sure the pointy part of the fin points toward the back (or tail) of the board. If you are moving from bodyboarding to stand-up surfing, remember the leash no longer goes on your wrist, it goes around the ankle of your back foot.

Etiquette in the line up

Believe it or not, there are general rules and order out here. Photo: Samuel Scrimshaw/Unsplash

The lineup (where surfers essentially “line up” to wait for waves) can be a tricky place to figure out. Every lineup is different (from beach breaks to point breaks to reef breaks), and what seemingly appears to be a bunch of people just bobbing in the water, does in fact carry with it a great deal of order and etiquette.

Once you get out to the lineup, there are some very basic rules you should abide by (if not someone will likely call you out).

Give way to surfers on the inside of you. Meaning, if you’re looking to go left on a wave, and a surfer to your right is already on (or shows interest in) that same wave, back off and wait for another.

Also, wait your turn and don’t try to catch every wave that rolls through. Be patient, be respectful, and (most important) be smart. Common sense goes a long way in the lineup.

Lastly, always respect the local surfers. While harsh localism and rash behavior is nothing we’d condone, it’s always important to show respect to the people that have been surfing there since before you were born. Trust us, your consideration will be noticed and eventually earn you the same reverence someday.

Leave the beach cleaner than you found it

I used to step over plastic bottles and chunks of styrofoam after my sessions without even thinking about picking them up.

After paddling through plastic bags and learning about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (massive swirling globs of plastic pollution the size of Texas), I started picking up trash at every spot I surf.

I can usually find a plastic bag blowing over the sand to fill with other bits of garbage as I walk. Every piece of garbage a surfer gets off the beach is one step closer to preserving the place that brings us the waves we love.

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