How to Catch a Wave: The Ultimate Guide
Catching a wave is a topic that beginner surfers or swimmers often ask about. But many experts still wonder how exactly to catch a wave. It is something that seems simple but is actually complex when you really look into it. So, if you are looking for advice or maybe some knowledge on how to catch a wave, think that you’re not alone. Interested coaches and scientists have researched this topic and have discovered that it involves a number of factors which you can’t ignore if you want to understand the art of surfing. They would go as far as wondering about the origin of a wave that started all this.
In this piece, we’ll try to focus on the factors that influence the chance to catch a wave. Picking a strategy is totally up to you depending on the conditions of the day. But the following factors will make it easier for you to study the condition and make the best decision possible.
#1. Study the different phases of the wave.
Among the many benefits of surfing is the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends. Whether it's a father teaching his son how to ride waves in Hawaii or a group of women goofing around on the surfboard together in New Jersey, surfing allows for quality time.
Study the different wave energy levels (in terms of height and duration) and the different basic sections of a wave (in terms of length and shape), and you'll gain a better understanding of waves and how to choose the best one. Scientifically speaking, there is a natural demonstration of wave energy amplitude that occurs every 18 hours. This means that each wave has a specific cycle that repeats every 18 hours and allows for other principles to be learned about waves.
#2. Position yourself.
The most critical step is positioning yourself in the lineup. Not only should you be at the right position, but you should be there at the right time.
You should first observe the waves to assess their waves and avoid falling to pieces of them. The surf spot has to be assessed to read the tide, size, swell direction, swell period, wind conditions, location, rotation frequency, and other factors.
Apart from these, you should also choose the right wave in the lineup. If you choose a monster wave that you aren't confident enough then you are certain to crash. With the help of the other surfers, you should watch the wave from shore and then choose one that suits you.
Staying on the inside is a safer option. You won't have a high chance of falling if you focus on staying close to the peak of the wave.
#3. Start paddling.
When you have a handle on the outward glide, it's time to begin paddling. To catch a wave, you need to have enough speed and momentum to keep you upright, but that means conserving energy. Make smaller strokes with your arms as you get to the peak of the wave and coast into the acceleration zone. If you paddle too hard or too fast, you'll use up energy — and eventually your arms will become too tired to catch the next wave.
#4. Get on your feet.
You're standing on the board, which means you're in the air. Now, you have to get your board parallel to the wave and then dive into the water. The most important part is coming, because it's the most dangerous part of a surf.
Here's where you find out if you're more scared of the SPF 50 sunblock than you are of going under water without knowing if you'll come up again. You have to ride out smoothly from the top of the wave for a few feet, then start your dive as the wave begins to break.
The trick is controlling your speed so that you don't drop below a critical point before the dive. You don't want to be out in front of the point when the wave starts to break, so you have to go in a smooth arc. You also don't cut it too damn close.
The worst thing that can happen is you go off the front of the wave, straight into its face, and end up as a sandy-haired cautionary tale for homeless children. So go in smoothly, and then start to move your body out of the way and onto the board.
#5. Ride the wave.
When you see a wave approaching that you’re interested in, approach it with your board parallel to the face of the wave. Head towards the highest point of the wave. As you do, start paddling steadily and powerfully toward the top of the wave.
As you get to the top of the wave, shift your weight to the front of your board so that you can start riding down the wave. You’re ready to ride as soon as each foot is on its own fin.
Make sure that the board is level with the sea floor. At this point, concentrate only on keeping your balance. You may experience a few unexpected dips and turns during the first few runs but eventually, you will start to get the feel of the wave.
When you get to your ideal position for riding the wave, you can try a few maneuvers such as turning the board to surf switch (when you ride with your right foot in front and your left foot in back). Start with a small adjustment and slowly get a feel for the board. Be sure to keep your eyes focused far down the wave to avoid crashing. As you get better at surfing, you will be able to perform successive turns in stair-step fashion.
#6. Change positions when you get thrown off.
This won’t always work, but it happens.
SURFING PROOF: If you’re a learner, try positioning yourself on the shoulder of the wave. If you’re on the shoulder, you can stand behind the wave, giving your board more time to catch up with it.
Keep an eye on the wave while you’re moving along, looking for when the crest starts its upward motion. As it starts, you’re going to want to change position. If you’re in the shoulder position, move closer to the wave and more forward. If you’re in front of the wave, move more in toward the center and farther back.
To make it easier to stay on the wave, you can position your body sideways, facing the wave.
Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
This article is for people who want to learn how to surf but don't know where to start, or those who have already been down surfing/bodyboarding a couple of times and are looking to develop their basic skills to get better at catching larger waves.
You can skip through this article to find answers to questions that you may have, or you can read it all in one go.
Here are some of the most-asked questions about learning to surf that I will try to answer in this article.
Q: How do I start learning how to surf?
A: Sign up for a surf lessons, or grab a surfboard and head to the beach. If you are going the private teacher route, choose the times that suit you best. If, however, you are a beginner, I recommend going early in the morning or later at night, once the crowd has gone home and surfing schools are less busy.
Q: What equipment and clothing do I need to buy in order to start learning to surf?
A: For your surfing lessons, you will need a surfboard, wetsuit, rash vest and surf shorts. If you want to head down to the beach to practice on your own there are some products that I recommend you bring with you.
Q: What is the best surfboard for beginners?
A: I recommend getting a soft top longboard as a starter board.
Q: What is the best thing to do when I can’t catch a passing wave?
A: If the wave before you catches you off guard, you won’t have time to start your shovel stroke. There's still a chance to make the best of the situation, however. If the wave is an uncrowded, medium-sized wave and you can see that the wave before it is going to curl and peak, try to be below the breaking area a little earlier. When the wave curls, it's going to pull you forward with it. The closer you are to the breaking area when you feel the pull on that wave, the better opportunity you'll have to muscle through it and get to your feet.
Q: How far do I have to sit when waiting for the waves?
A: Obviously, standing up will get you swimming. You have to be sitting pretty deep in the water, meaning you paddled out really far to ride anything in your path. If the wave is breaking, you probably need to be at least 100 yards (yards = meters) back from the wave. If you are breaking, you probably are sitting out the back. If you are breaking, you should be no closer than 20 to 40 yards (meters) from the point break.
Q: How long do I have to paddle when catching a wave?
A: You should use as little time as possible in this moment. No more than 15 seconds.