How to Catch More Waves in Surfing

A surf session can be a frustrating endeavor. We’ve all been through it: paddle out with expectations through the roof, only to be left dripping in disappointment after two hours of doing everything other than surfing.

Sitting in a crowd, waiting for waves, or paddling against an unrelenting rip current – it may seem like surfing is sometimes all work and no play. Here’s some sound advice on how you can catch more waves, and in turn, have more fun.

Own the Inside

So simple, so easy, and so underrated. Sitting inside a bit from the main peak does compromise your chances of getting any stand-out set waves, but it’s also a great way to increase your wave count on a crowded or inconsistent day. Sure, you’ll end up taking a couple sets on the head and your buddies surfing outside of you will try and show off since you have a perfect vantage point, but in the end, you’ll have the last laugh. While the rest of the crowd is paddle battling and hassling for waves out the back, you’ll be stealthily collecting all the fun little insiders and going to town in the shore break. Besides, the insiders are the best ones half the time anyway.

Hire a Strength Coach

Okay, a strength coach might be a little above and beyond (unless you’re Taylor Knox), but the bottom line is: the stronger you are, the more waves you’ll be able to catch. In fact there are two advantages to strength training. The first is that strong paddling will enable you to navigate the lineup with speed and efficiency, getting from A to B with minimum effort, while still having enough arm strength to push up to your feet once you do find a wave.

The other advantage of being an ironman will come on bigger days, when the ocean is rife with current and the waves themselves are fast, powerful, and difficult to catch. Being in good paddling condition is also helpful when you’re surfing beach breaks, where peaks may pop up at random, requiring extra some effort on your part.

Although some pros, most notably Kelly Slater, claim that the best way to get into surf shape is to “surf more,” there are some easy ways to help your cause out of the water. Push-ups are a great strengthener for your arm and chest muscles, both of which come into play during a surf session. Pull-ups and light weights will also help you build up your key paddling muscles.

Get Smart

This might be a little difficult to nail down, but being a smarter, more selective surfer can really help when it comes to increasing your wave count. Take a minute to check conditions thoroughly from the beach before you paddle out, and keep these considerations in mind:

  • Are there any set patterns (for example, maybe the second and third wave of each set is best), or are the waves more random and disorganized?
  • Can you spot any noticeable rips or currents that may either help you get to the takeoff spot or hamper you?
  • Which waves, if any, are not being ridden? Outside? Inside? Are their sets swinging wide of the lineup?
  • If you’re surfing a beach break, are there any peaks that are empty or less crowded, but still producing fun waves?

The Board Factor

Which board you choose to ride can also impact the number of waves you're able to grab in any given session. If there's some sizable swell in the water, a longer, thicker board will help you get around easily, and stroke into waves without having to scratch like a flea-ridden dog.

Relax, It’s Only Surfing

It’s amazing how many surfers forget that surfing is supposed to be fun. Ever seen a guy punch a hole in his board, or yell and cuss in the lineup when things aren’t going well? Obviously, we all have bad days and shocker sessions, but don’t forget that surfing is pretty much the coolest thing on earth and you’re lucky to be playing in the ocean in the first place. So relax. Share the waves, and don’t set expectations. Smile --you’re surfing!

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