Improve your surfing NOW! Five Top Tips

Contents to Improve your surfing:

  1. Surf Knowledge
  2. Physical preparation
  3. Surf Skate Training
  4. Surf Coaching
  5. Surf Equipment

There are hundreds of ways to improve your surfing but also as many dead ends and wrong ideas from people who don’t know what they are talking about, especially online.

So, let’s keep it simple and check out some solid advice from an experienced, qualified coach. 

Is it really possible to get better at surfing just by reading you ask? We say YES – Knowledge is power! Which brings us nicely onto our first topic…

TIP 1: Improve your surfing with SURF KNOWLEDGE

If you don’t know how to do something, simply ASK:




Think of the one thing you want to improve in your next session (it’s best to only work on one thing at a time) for example your take-off, cutback or turtle roll. Now you need to know how this thing is done correctly and step-by-step.

 That sounds obvious but it is surprising how many coaches and self-proclaimed experts don’t actually have a sound grip on the fundamentals of each manoeuvre. When I started surfing I trusted all the surf coaches I met on my travels assuming that because they surfed well they must understand the theory and body mechanics of surfing. But it turns out a lot of them were just making it up as they went along, without any solid basis of knowledge!

It took me years to find reliable accurate information that worked and coaches that could express this knowledge to me in a clear and understandable way. All that research and experience is what we have tried to distill into the Surf Companions book.

So, back to Tip 1: Get yourself the right kind of surf knowledge from the following sources. If possible get a word-of-mouth recommendation from a surfer or coach you trust to filter the content:

surf rules out the Intermediate Surf Companion

Tip 2 : Improve your surfing WITH Physical Preparation

In surfing you can’t control the conditions (unless you have your own wave pool like Kelly Slater) but one thing you can control is you: your strength, flexibility and endurance. Surfing is a full body sport and quite simply “the fitter you are the more fun you will have!”

If you miss the wave of the day or maybe can’t even get back out to the line-up after a wipeout because you just can’t paddle anymore you’re going to end up frustrated and feeling like you wasted your precious time in the water. 

Even if you have a sedentary job or don’t live by the sea there’s no excuse! Here are my top ways to get and stay surf fit:

General Fitness

  • Endurance sports for cardio fitness (jogging, swimming, cycling etc)
  • Strength sports (Freeletics, weights, crossfit etc)
  • Flexibility and balance (yoga, stretching, Swiss ball etc)

Surf Specific Fitness

  • Shoulder training : swimming and boxing are the best for this
  • Functional training with exercise stretch bands
  • Paddling your surfboard on a river or lake
  • Paddle drills
  • Take-off training

With general fitness there are any number of sports that can help you stay surf-fit. My advice is to choose a sport you enjoy in itself (so it doesn’t feel like a chore) and also beneficial to your surfing. For example martial arts can train all three aspects at once and are fun and motivating in their own right.

With specific surf fitness, you should focus more on targeted surf-related workouts. For example paddling your surfboard on a lake or river, swimming laps in the pool or doing take-offs at home or training back and shoulders at the gym. All workouts or drills should be aimed at the muscles and movements you use when surfing, there is plenty of info online about this kind of training.

Even pro surfers who surf for hours every day also train their strength, flexibility, endurance and balance out of the water, so remember the five P’s: 

Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!

Tip 3 : Surfskate Practice

The best on-land way to replicate the movements of surfing is to practise with a surfskate, and it’s almost as fun and addictive as surfing itself!

At Surf Companions we love Smoothstar surfskates, they make us feel like we are carving up the concrete, all the while ingraining the muscle memory of any surfing manoeuvre, basic or advanced. 

With your surfskate you can break down any move into steps and repeat them as often as you want. Use your phone to film your runs and analyse your performance to see if it matches the moves in the book or video you are using as a guide.
If you want to learn more, check out our Surfskates Basics Video or even our Surf skate online course.

Tip 4 : Improve your surfing WITH Surf Coaching

If you want to learn to swim then you get a swimming instructor, right? 

Do you want to play golf? Then you book a couple of lessons from the course Pro. 

And if you want to improve your surfing then…you guessed it right, you should look for a qualified surfing instructor. 

Like in all sports, professional surfers themselves have coaches. Even surf teachers like me get coaching to up their own skills. No matter what your level, from whitewater warrior to Pipe Master, it will definitely help your surfing. Conclusion: Get some professional training..

Depending on your level and goals you could book an intensive week of lessons at a surf camp or get your technique tweaked with a session or two of video analysis. Whether you’re still wiggling in the whitewater or gliding on green waves, there’s no substitute for face-to-face real-time coaching to improve every aspect of your surf game. 

“If you want to achieve something new, you have to do things you haven’t done yet.”

A good coach will help you do this. They will notice the intricacies of your technique and approach and help you move onward and upwards, breaking bad habits and replacing them with solid drills and fundamental skills.

Tip 5 : Surf Equipment

“Use the right tool for the job”. It is an old saying that rings true for so many situations, none more so than surfing.

Your equipment has a direct effect on your surf experience, every single session. If you choose the right board (FINS) for your level and the conditions you are guaranteed to have a much better session. Don’t surf a semi-gun in waist high slop or your longboard in hollow overhead waves for example. 

Your equipment is another area you have control over and where surf knowledge is again essential. So do some research and get sound advice from sources you trust and respect. 

What Next Coach…?

If you follow up and work hard on these 5 tips, I guarantee your surfing will level up big time!

To further improve all aspects of your surfing check out our other blog posts, videos and of course the Surf Companion book and see how we can improve your surfing together. See you in the water!

Author: Daniel Spes, ISA Level 2 Coach & Co-Founder of Surf Companions Gbr

Surf Tips




Improve your surfing NOW! Five Top Tips

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