7 facts about surfing that every beginner should know

When you start surfing, this new universe is a huge mystery. You cannot imagine how you could ever paddle out when it's pumping or catch a wave all the way to the beach or get your first glimpse of a barrel. All these things seem about as far away to you as the moon, but don't be scared – every rookie feels exactly how you feel!

Surfing is a process, and the process involves, of course, having fun but also a few facts and helpful tips.

Remember, we all have been in your shoes, and we promise it ain't so bad from where you are standing.

Surfing will change your attitude. Photo: Ferrel Surf House

1. Surfing is a way of life, it's not just a sport

When you learn to surf, you should know that it's not only about you riding a wave. More so, your entire attitude toward life will change immediately.

You will find yourself in different places, heading to different countries in search of waves. It's a constant sensation that keeps you buying plane tickets to foreign lands welcoming layovers, delays, and jetlags without a change of mood.

Once you're hooked, there is no coming back. Once you experience the feeling, only a surfer knows of gliding on a wave, cutting back into the crest of the wave, defining gravity in doing so, you'll feel like a fish out of water every time you're not in, around or near the ocean.

2. Surfing needs time – a lot of time

As a beginner, you should know this, surfing is one of the most intricate sports in the world. It is quite a challenge to enjoy first achievements. Wipeouts become your best friend, but triumphs come little by little, so don't get discouraged.

Surfing is beautiful in its own way because it's one of the rare experiences in life you can never fully master. Even the best surfers get hit by unexpected, huge waves, missed sections, and wipeouts.

But remember all these shredders who dominate the lineup, seemingly being able to do whatever they please on a wave, have been in your situation too, so never give up. Surfing will hurt you once, it will hurt you twice – but one day you will have a smile on your face that cannot be removed.

Stay positive, patient, resilient, and be passionate about a lifestyle that can give you so much.

Wipe-outs are part of the deal when learning to surf. Photo: Chill In Ericeira / E. Dibiasi

3. Cut a beautiful figure in the water

Surfing is not just about tan lines or hot booties. When you make your way from a beginner to an intermediate level, you should know how to position your body on the surfboard. First of all, close your legs. Most beginners just dangle their feet over the tail – wrong! Watch the other surfers, do it like them, put your feet together.

Another mistake is posture – don't lie on your board like a flat pancake. Tense your body, thrust out your head and chest. It is very important to be flexible and agile in the water. The pose might not come naturally to you at first try, but once you get the hang of it all, you'll see how your paddle power and endurance improves.

4. Every wave is different, you have to learn how to read them

When you make it out to green waves, there are several facts you definitely should know. The 'lineup 'is the place where surfers wait for waves. Always face the ocean's horizon! There are sets. They usually come in pairs, triplets, or groups (hence the name "sets"), and they can be as unpredictable as night and day.

Some sets break in perfect motion to one another. Some, however, break wide, early, or closeout all together. It's important for you to know that your playground is continually changing.

Waves have a life of their own, never controllable, just rideable. Learn how to read them, learn where you need to sit with your board and when it's the best time to paddle further out so the sets won't hit you.

Also, make sure you know what is under you and your board. Sand, reef or rocks make different breaks for different levels of surfing. And if you don't know – just ask. There are several apps and websites where you can check conditions and beginner-friendly spots.

Keep in mind that wave theory is a complex physical field no one expects you to fully understand, but it's better to know at least a few basic facts.

Every wave is different. Photo: Ferrel Surf House

5. Ignorance is dangerous

As mentioned, waves are natural, strong, and wild entities that have their own rules. Even if you don't see it from the beach, most of the time, there are currents, rips, and surges, moving in different directions.

Prepare yourself and make sure you're always aware of what the ocean is doing and ask yourself from time to time if you should really be out here. One of the first mistakes is overestimating oneself. Surfing is hard, no doubt, but it gets a whole lot harder if you start out in the wrong conditions or on the wrong equipment.

As a beginner, the best thing to do is to get a teacher. They will tell you everything you need to know for your first sessions or shortcut to success by staying in a surf camp. Camps are ideal for everyone who has some time on their hands to really work on their skills without interruptions. And as a bonus, you get to trade your daily commute to work with an awesome set up in Bali, Portugal, Morocco, or Sri Lanka for a while.

6. Hang loose, but remember the rules

Don't drop in! The worst thing you could do in the water is to "steal" someone's wave. If you don't have priority on the wave (sitting closer to the breaking part of the wave), then stop paddling for it. There are some rules in the water, which you could call surf ethics. When you start surfing on your own, study and honor the surfing rules.

Waves are normally meant to be ridden by only one surfer, who catches the wave closer to the peak than the others. Look right and left before you take-off to make sure you don't interfere with anybody's wave.

7. Choose the right board

The right surf equipment is critical. Different kinds of waves demand different types of boards. From mellow to steep waves – there's a perfect board for everything. As a beginner, choosing the right surfboard can make the difference between catching 15 or 0 waves during a session.

As a beginner, you should rent a soft top with a lot of volume. Bigger boards don't need to be paddled as hard and are easier to catch waves. Foamies are also a lot safer and stable than more conventional boards. Generally, the thicker, wider, and longer your board is, the easier it will be to catch waves.

If you decide to skip the line and head for your own fiberglass board, make sure you treat it with care - surfboards are fragile!

Last life hack for today – when walking along with your board hold your leash in your hand, don't let it drag along the ground behind you; do it properly, do it with style!

The perfect board for your first time. Photo: Chill in Ericeira / E. Dibiasi

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