The Best Tips For Surfing On Your Paddle Board

man on top of a wave

These paddle board surfing tips can help you learn how to surf just like a pro, but don’t expect results overnight. Surfing on a paddle board takes plenty of practice and skill. We’ve compiled some great tips that can help get you started on your way to SUP surfing, however, how fast you progress will depend on how committed you are and how often you practice.

Key Takeaway: Surfing on a paddle board looks much easier than it is. You’ll need to purchase the right board for the job and expect to spend several hours practicing. While you won’t master this skill easily, you can be confident that with consistent practice, you’ll be able to catch your first wave in a matter of a few weeks.

Keep on reading to learn how you can easily master surfing on your new paddle board.

Get in Gear

If you’re anxious to try SUP surfing, your first stop is getting the right paddle board for the job. There are many styles and sizes to choose from. Ultimately, the board you go with should work with your height and weight, so pay close attention to a board’s max weight, height recommendations, and read paddle board reviews to learn how each board measured up in the water.

To learn more about the top-selling models of paddle boards click here to read our ultimate buyer’s guide, where you’ll also find many of the leading models of SUPs on the market.

Proper Surfing Etiquette

It may surprise you to learn that surfing comes with its own special set of rules and surfing etiquette. Regardless of where you ride out in the lineup, knowing the proper rules of surfing is important. You may find yourself in a tough spot if you’re the only SUP rider around and you’re competing with experienced surfboarders who expect you to know the rules of the game. Above all, they want to make sure you stay out of their way and don’t go for their wave.

So, in order to avoid getting into it with local surfers, never paddle out and start catching waves. Scan the lineup to search for other surfers. If there are other surfers in the water waiting in the lineup, you’ll need to bide your time and wait your turn. Usually, the surfer who is deeper on the wave will have dibs on the next wave. During this time, it’s always crucial to be observant and aware of the lineup and the other surfers around you.

Pace Yourself

Knowing your limits is important. The ocean is unforgiving, with its strong current and powerful waves. As a beginner, know your limits. Don’t get too bold your first few times in the water. Water conditions can be very dangerous at times. If you feel that you’re ready to tackle bigger waves, always go with an experienced surfer.

Many pros recommend starting off in flatwater. This way, you’ll be proficient in stopping, turning, and paddling, before you head out to challenging ocean waters. This will make it safer for you and other surfers around you.

Falling Is Part Of The Game

Falling Is Part Of The Game

Wiping out on your board is just part of the surfing experience. In fact, in the beginning, you can expect to fall almost constantly, which is why it’s important to practice your skills in flatwater or calm ocean conditions first before you attempt to catch a wave. You can practice falling off your board when you’re learning your new surfing skills in calm waters. You can also learn how to get on a board in deep water and how to control your board when dealing with a strong current.

Starting from a standing position and having the power of a paddle makes it easier to catch waves, but surfing on a SUP has its own unique challenges, so even if you’re skilled with a surfboard, you’ll still need to practice a lot with a new paddle board in order to develop the skills you need.

Surfing safety is always a priority, however, it’s one of the few watersports that you won’t be required to wear a lifejacket. Because of this, you must be a very strong swimmer and always be aware of current water conditions. In the beginning, you should never surf alone. Keep in mind, the Coast Guard recommends that you always wear a lifejacket when you’re outside the surfing zone. Using a leash will also be very important, so you don’t get separated from your board.

Board Leash

If you purchase a new SUP and it doesn’t come with a leash, then make sure you purchase the right type of leash, one that will allow you to avoid injury and easily maintain control of your board. The leash you use should be around the same length as the SUP. You will also need a straight leash, one that has less recoil. This way, if you fall off your board, the board will not shoot right back at you. Additionally, coiled leashes often get tangled around paddles when you fall off.

The leash should also be attached to the ankle that is the closest to the tail when you’re using a surfing stance.

The Perfect Practice Spot

The Perfect Practice Spot

Until you’re a proficient surfer, you should only practice in areas without any waders, swimmers, and other surfers nearby because if you lose control of your board you could seriously injure someone. The best place to practice is at the beach on one to two-foot waves that break slowly out from a sandy shore. Also, search for a spot that enjoys light offshore wind. This involves wind that blows from the land out toward the water. This type of wind condition will help to keep the waves more predictable and much smoother.

Catching Waves

Once you’ve found the perfect practice spot you’ll run into a few issues you must learn how to handle. The first problem you need to master is learning how to launch your board and paddle past a breaking wave. Next, you need to master actually catching a wave. Last of all, you’ll need to learn how to actually surf.

Being in the right position is the key to catching a wave. You also have to commit to the wave you choose. When you’re waiting for the right wave, make sure you line up parallel to an incoming wave, using a hybrid standing stance with your paddle placed on the toe side of the SUP and your toes facing out toward the sea. When you spot a wave you want to try, using this stance, you’ll be able to turn ninety degrees easily so that you’re positioned perpendicularly to an oncoming wave. Once the wave is close enough, you’ll need to use solid, smooth forward strokes in order to achieve the perfect speed. When timed correctly, after four strokes the wave will reach you and pick up the SUP’s tail. It’s crucial that you lean forward at this point in order to get established on the wave’s face. Once you’re confident that you’ve caught the wave you can step back, turning your feet into the proper full surfing stance.

After you have caught the wave the board will fight to shoot straight down the wave and out in front of it. This will cause you to lose serious speed and stall out. To avoid this you can angle the board on the wave, allowing you to remain in the pocket. If you’re not familiar with surfing terminology, the term pocket refers to a spot in which the breaking portion of the wave connects with the open green face. Many beginner SUP surfers usually find it much easier to position the board so that they’re holding the paddle on the toe side of the board and their toes are facing the wave. This looks easy, but surfing is actually one of the most difficult sports to learn. When practicing, patience is key. You should also expect to do more swimming than surfing until you get the hang of this challenging sport.

Other Challenges That Lie Ahead

Before you start worrying about riding and catching a wave, you have to master getting through them. The first step is finding the right paddle board for the job. The board should be a length you can easily handle. It should also be designed for whitewater conditions.

After you’ve purchased the right board based on your skill level, height, and size, you’ll need to practice surfing stances and how to get on a paddle board in different types of water conditions. Since you’ll be wiping out left and right as you practice learning how to catch waves, learning how to climb back on your board when you’re out in the ocean will be crucial.

The golden rule is consistent practice. Remember your first couple of weeks will be challenging on the board, just keep your expectations in check and keep trying. These paddle board surfing tips we discussed are just the basics. There’s plenty you’ll have to learn on your own, through experience and regular practice. Don’t be afraid to talk to any SUP boarders you encounter at the beach. They can also give you some great pointers regarding how to catch a wave, how to get back on your board, and how to correct your stance based on wave type and water conditions.