Now that you’ve gotten the hang of riding the whitewater on your belly, it’s time to try standing up! All that popup practicing you’ve been doing on land is going to pay off. Surfing is not too hard once you’re 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 wouldn’t 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 you’ve 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. That’s 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 it’s a different motion than getting to your knees. Why waste time making a habit of something that you’re going to have to break eventually? Standing up is hard enough without the bad habits.
Surfboards are more stable at speed, like bicycles, so don’t be afraid of standing up if the whitewater is pushing your board fast. In fact, it’s 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 you’re riding on top of the world. It’s ok to let out a hoot of pure joy. Go ahead =) You’re surfing!
- Don’t ride your board onto dry sand. This will damage the bottom and the fins.
- When falling, make sure to fall away from the board. Don’t 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 you’ll be starting out. Even if you think it’s 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. Don’t 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 you’re 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 it’s time to graduate to unbroken waves.