8 ways to get better at surfing

Surfer girl

Surfing can be tricky to master with constantly changing variables so progress is often slow. If you’re getting frustrated, don’t give up! Here’s our 8 simple hacks to improve your surfing and get you back on track…

Surf more

Sounds obvious but if you only surf every couple of weeks, once a month or few months, you’ll feel like you’re taking steps backwards and repeatedly going over old ground.

Surf as often as you can and build on the basics. Once you’ve mastered catching waves, popping-up and controlling the board, move onto turning and trimming. And if you’re nailing it in the white water, it’s time to hit those green waves!

Ride the right board

Short boards may look pretty epic but if you’re riding one and not catching any waves, you’ll make it harder for yourself and get frustrated.

Ask yourself honestly what level of surfing you’re at, how often you surf, what physical shape you’re in and what kind of waves you’re surfing. These are all questions that any good shaper or surf shop will ask when determining what board is right for you.

If you’re a beginner, start on a foamie. They’re perfect for learning and you’ll be the envy of your mates when you’re catching loads of waves.

Get surf fit

To maximise your surf sessions, you need to keep fit when you’re not in the water, especially if you surf infrequently. Hit the swimming pool and build up your lung capacity and paddle fitness, do plyometric exercises like burpees to increase muscle power and explosiveness, and make sure you do some cardiovascular exercise to increase your stamina.

Not sure where to start? Read our tips for improving your surf fitness

Go out even when it’s flat

Lack of waves doesn’t mean you can’t get in the sea with your board. You can build up your paddle strength, practise sitting on your board and getting yourself into position for oncoming waves. More time in the water working on these basics will help to build your confidence, exposure to the sea, and your fitness levels.

It’s also a great workout for the soul – there’s nothing more peaceful than sitting on your board surrounded by mother nature!

Challenge yourself

The saying of ‘if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you’ is pretty spot on we reckon. You won’t get anywhere by staying in your comfort zone. Similarly, there’s no point going out in waves that you can’t handle – you could end up getting into difficulty which could knock your confidence completely.

Set yourself a goal each time you go surfing and break it down into small steps. Surf with people who are at a level just above you – it’s a great way to inspire and motivate you to work towards where you want to be!

Improve your ocean knowledge

Take time to understand the elements that effect waves – the tides, swell size, wind direction and speed. If you have a favourite beach, find out everything you can about the break including the best times to surf it, areas to avoid and any hazards you need to know about like rips, rocks and strong currents. Talk to the lifeguards for that beach too as they’re the experts!

In-depth knowledge about where you’re surfing means you’ll get in at the right time, stay in the best spots and maximise your time in the water.

Think positively

Approaching surfing with a realistic, can-do attitude means you’ll improve much quicker than thinking you’ll never get any better. You’ll be more willing to learn, adapt your approach and correct any bad habits or mistakes.

Be patient and don’t give up!

Surfing is all about having fun – keep that in mind and you’ll be shredding in no time!

Have a surf lesson

A qualified surf coach can evaluate where you’re at currently and spot why you may not be progressing. They can help iron out bad habits, teach you correct techniques (ie the pop-up) and help to build your confidence when going for green or bigger waves.  With expert coaching, you’ll progress quicker and after just one lesson, it could help get your surfing back on track.

And if you want more closely focussed advice, invest in a private surf lesson which can be customised to your exact needs.

Image credit: Chris Hills

Write a comment


  1. clare
    May 22, 2017

    Great advice, especially about the right board. Wave count, that’s my goal and the right board definitely helps with this. I finally found the right board for me and my surfing is coming on quite nicely

  2. Paul 'Milo' Millington
    June 9, 2016

    An excellent read Kirsty….

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