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How to Choose the Right Surf Spot


Woman learning to surf at Arugam Bay
Paul Kennedy/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Learning how to Choose the right surf spot is extremely important.

On many occasions, I have encountered new surfers who are frustrated. They say they can't get a wave from the crowd, or the other surfers are yelling at them. However, those are the lucky ones. Others get dinged boards or dinged bodies because they aren't familiar with proper escape procedures when a loose board is bearing down on them.

Beginning Surfers Need Mushy Waves

The bottom line is that inexperienced surfers should not pick the most critical surf spot in town to practice their art. Instead, they should seek out the opposite. An easy, rolling wave with deep water is very helpful since a reef will only slow down the learning process and cause possible injuries. If you live on the East Coast of the U.S., finding a mushy wave is pretty easy, but other areas may warrant you to check weather forecasts to be sure that conditions won't change too quickly. There is absolutely no shame in learning to surf in small, unpopular waves. In fact, others will be thankful!

Beginning Surfers Need Space

Get away from the crowd! Crowds suck, everyone knows that, and nothing can get in the way of the learning process more than a bunch of wave hogs. You'll be one yourself soon enough, but first you need some space. Find somewhere you can catch different kinds of waves and really practice your technique without getting in the way of the more experienced surfers.

Beginning Surfers Need a Friend

Get a mentor! This sounds a bit serious, so don't actually call him or her your "mentor". What I mean is find someone who is better than you to talk to about surfing or to watch while you are in the water. There are some things you can only learn "in the field". This idea will follow you throughout all levels of your surfing life. As an example, I thought I was at my peak until I went to Hawaii and saw guys doing things I had never dreamed of. This pushed me to the next level. There is always another level.

In summary, get yourself an old, thick board and go to an uncrowded, mushy spot. Watch and talk to good surfers, and watch videos (all levels). In my opinion, the best non-surfing activity is to watch surf videos. That subliminal power is very persuasive. You won't even realize you're learning.

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