Surfing is an enjoyable sport, but you have to know how to do it in order to actually go out and catch some waves. One of the most important things to know in surfing is how to paddle. Paddling your surfboard is your only form of locomotion in the ocean, and it’s the only way you’re going to get from point A to point Z where the waves are. Begin practicing in a part of the ocean where there are no waves, kind of like a marina. If this is not available to you, a river, a lake, or a day when the waves are completely flat. You do not need to be smacked int he face with waves as you’re trying to learn the basics of surfing. Take it from me, I’ve been there and it’s not fun.
I assume you already have a surf board. Walk out to the water and place your board fins side down. You will notice that the board naturally sits int he water. You do not want to interrupt this natural tendency of the wave. Also notice how the nose, or front of the board, sits just slightly off of the water. Most surfboards are con-caved up so that the nose rides just above the water. This is how you want the nose of your surfboard to be when you are on it. You want to keep the board as stream line as possible. A surfboard is made in such a way that it is naturally buoyant and will naturally sit in the water. In fact, a surfboard will naturally and easily slide down a wave. In most cases you are the problem that keeps the surfboard from doing what it naturally wants to do.
You have to climb on the board. For many people, this is a feat in itself. There are many ways of doing this, but I’m going to explain a few of the most common. There is no right way to get on the board, just as long as you’re lying on the board, chest side down, and the board is sitting like it did when there was no one on it.
Place the board in front of you with the nose pointing to the left. Place your left hand on the left rail (side of the board). Push down on the left side of the board as you lift yourself up and onto the board. Carry the forward momentum to the other side of the board, or you will push the board into the water or fall off the other side. You should land on the board with your chest in the direct center.
Another way of doing this is to grasp the board on both rails and slide along in the water. As the board is in front of you, you can crawl and scoot your way onto it. For many, this is the preferred way of getting on their board. For others, it takes too much time and effort.
The last way of getting on a surfboard comes from the old surfers of the 60’s and it is still used today. if you don’t do it just right; however, you can get hurt or just knock the wind out of yourself. Grasp the board by either rail with the nose pointing upward. Stand in water that is about knee to thigh high in depth. Walk a few steps and jump into the water with the board under you. As you land, take the weight of the landing into your arms and slowly lower yourself onto the board. If you slip off the rail, or can’t brace yourself, you will slam into the board. I can tell you from experience, these mishaps do not feel good, but they are just part of the learning process.
Now center yourself so that the nose is where you want it to be. If the nose is too high, you’ll paddle nowhere. If the nose is too low you begin to sink. If it’s really too low, you’re in the drink. As you lie on the board, practice just staying still. Use your hands to keep you up if you have to, and keep your legs straight off the back of the board. You will be tempted to keep your legs apart for stability, but this will only cause more drag when you begin paddling. The worse thing to do while paddling your surfboard is to create drag, which will slow you down, cause you to move nowhere,and in the end cause you to loose the wave. If you loose the waves, there’s no reason were doing this in the first place. So learn the right way right away.
For many people, just developing the balance to lay here takes many tries. Don’t worry if you fall, or go face first into the water. There might even be times you fall into the water and your board shoots out the back of you and you have to go swim for it. Every surfer has been there, and we all know that this is just part of learning the sport. Once you can just comfortably lay on the board and keep the nose where it is, you can move.