Discover 3 Of The Worst Mistakes All Beginner Surfers Make.

Getting better at surfing is tough.  Consistently analysing your mistakes, gaining feedback and actively learning all areas of the sport is your key to surfing stronger and improving quicker.

For many surfers even the act of finding the right time to go surfing simply compounds how hard and time consuming surfing is. Being consistent in surfing when the very element needed for surfing is ever changing and anything but consistent, is a challenge we all face and is not something that is easily rectified.

Something we do have control over is the level of our understanding of the ocean and the sport, discovering the reasons behind our movements and applying surfing’s best practices to your surf sessions for greater gains.

Surfing improvement comes down to you – reaching the next level in your own surfing doesn’t come from simply going surfing, it is a result of deliberate practice, feedback and self coaching through video’s, how to’s and guides.

Here we take a look at three of the most common mistakes beginner surfers make.

1. Where you look is where you go

The importance of looking at what you doing runs true in anything we do, especially so in sports.  A common error frequently spotted in new surfers is the lack of awareness for their immediate surroundings.

We have all been there, either someone in your way or you have been in the way. Resulting in the awkward moment where both flush red in self consciousness.

There is a lot going on in the surf and with gross motor skills working at full capacity coupled with the shear physical effort required for each task, whether it be paddling for a wave or balancing on your surfboard there is little room for anything else but you.

Surfers struggling with blinker affliction can help themselves and others by abiding by the simple rules.

  • Look both ways and in front of you before paddling for a wave.
  • Keep your head up and looking ahead to where you want to go.
  • Stick in an area that is conducive to your ability & allows you to practice unhindered.

2. The Pooh Stance

The pooh stance is the ugliest thing in surfing and is something that kneed’s to be addressed immediately.  Strangely, not all surfer’s are aware of their crimes – which provides further fuel for the argument of how difficult developing your surfing is without feedback from friends, ‘How To’ video’s and self surf coaching.

What is the pooh stance?

The pooh stance is the term given to a surfer who’s knees when surfing point outwards, resembling a sturdy American gym wrestler at the start of a bout.

It’s agreed in most sports that for a strong stance your legs should be shoulder width apart and knees bent. This planted stance gives you a sturdy base to work from and helps with balance.

Surfing is the exception, having a knee’s apart stance limits your ability to rotate your trunk, lead with your leading arm and look where you are going.

The trick to combatting outward facing knees and defeating the pooh stance is:

keep your feet in the classic surfing stance – leading foot facing forwards towards the nose, toes pointing to 2’oclock. Back foot across the stringer, slightly rolled over onto the inside of your foot.

Keep your hips and leading arm together in motion – where one goes the other should follow. Never two hands over the same rail!

Bend your back knee down, leaning it towards the deck of the board.

3. Pearling

We’ve all been there – the moment you realise the wave you have been waiting for all session is suddenly too steep and is about to pitch you to the beach.

As the nose of your surfboard catches and gallons of salty sea water funnels up your nose and in your mouth, you ponder what it was that you didn’t do and why this keeps happening.

Understanding the reasoning behind what causes a surfer to pearl is half the battle.

The simple answer is that its all about angles – when you start to surf unbroken waves in the 2-3ft range, the angles created by the curl in the wave lifting and pushing your board become too great and suddenly leaning back in the prone position doesn’t cut it any more.

Reading and keeping an eye on how each wave forms is key to adjusting your paddle speed and positioning when paddling for a wave. As with anything you want to catch, you never take your eye off it.

By angling your surfboard in the direction that you wish to surf this reduces the angle of transition. If the angle is to great the nose of your board will dig into the water as the tail is lifted by the wave.

By angling your take off on the wave this helps the inside rail of your surfboard to engage with the wave face and allows your to trim along the unbroken wave face.

In your next surf session, paddle for a wave with the nose of your board pointing at a slight angle in the direction that you wish to travel. Keep your eye on the wave and make sure you adjust your paddle speed according to the speed of the wave, as the nose of your board starts to dip down the wave you’ll know you have caught the wave and it’s time to pop up.


Jorrin Massingham is the owner of Cornish Wave Adventure Activities. Born in South Africa Jorrin moved to the UK aged 9 before setting out to gain skills and experiences further afield.

Passionate about adventure travel and the outdoors, Jorrin gained vast experience from around the world in travel, tourism and outdoor activities through a variety of solo travel, adventures and job roles.

Currently living in Newquay, Cornwall, when not running Cornish Wave Jorrin can be found planning new adventures both at home and overseas with friends.

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