The Third Step: Standing up

Standing Up...

Now that youíve gotten the hang of riding the whitewater on your belly, itís time to try standing up! All that popup practicing youíve been doing on land is going to pay off. Surfing is not too hard once youíre on your feet, but getting to your feet and staying there is 90% of the battle.

Side Note: Some people learn to stand on the unbroken waves, but I wouldnít recommend this to the very new. Unless you have an instructor or experienced friend, standing up in the whitewater is a good way to get started.

First, catch a wall of whitewater like youíve been doing. As soon as the board starts to stabilize and glide in front of the whitewater, pop up to your feet! It sounds so simple, but unfortunately the act of standing up well is very elusive.

Some people will want to get to their knees first. Thatís fine, but I would caution against making this a habit. You should be able to smoothly pop up from a prone to standing position. This takes time to get the hang of, and itís a different motion than getting to your knees. Why waste time making a habit of something that youíre going to have to break eventually? Standing up is hard enough without the bad habits.

Surfboards are more stable at speed, like bicycles, so donít be afraid of standing up if the whitewater is pushing your board fast. In fact, itís advisable to catch a nice, meaty wall of whitewater instead of a piddly little trickle.

Sometimes waves will break on an outside sandbar and then the whitewater will disappear into deeper water and lose its power. If this is happening you might want to come back at a lower tide, or move to a beach where the sandbar extends all the way from shore to the outside break. This will give you better results.

Once you finally get to your feet, even for a few seconds, it will feel like youíre riding on top of the world. Itís ok to let out a hoot of pure joy. Go ahead =) Youíre surfing!

Additional Tips

  • Donít ride your board onto dry sand. This will damage the bottom and the fins.

  • When falling, make sure to fall away from the board. Donít dive off in front of the board or in such a way that the board will potentially conk you in the head. Cover your head with your arms when you wipe out and when you surface.

  • NEVER dive off headfirst in shallow water. Shallow water is primarily where youíll be starting out. Even if you think itís deep, the ocean floor is not uniform and it can be deep in one area and then ten feet over it can be very shallow.

  • Always wear a leash. Donít let the self professed soul surfers fool you into thinking that surfing with a leash is stupid. You can decide if you want to wear a leash or not when youíre able to surf without wiping out or losing your board.

  • That said, if you can safely maintain control of your board at all times, do so. Relying on the leash is a bad habit.

Standing up is the main goal of surfing, but once you can stand up in the whitewater itís time to graduate to unbroken waves.

Click here for Chapter 11: Getting Outside the Breakers.

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