How do I Teach My Child How to Surf?

This little guy is just getting used to his surfboard. Let your child ride on his belly a bit or even ride a bodyboard. Jay DiMartino

Take it Slow:

Teaching a child how to surf is sometimes tricky. Since ALL kids are islands unto themselves, nurturing a young love affair with surfing starts with you, the teacher. The key is patience, patience, patience. Don’t rush your child into the water and on to a board. If he just wants to hang on the beach and build a sand castle then so be it. If your child feels frustrated or scared, this will only set your whole surfing plan back a few steps.

A Little Subliminal Priming Never Hurts:

1.
Bring a surfboard along every time you go to the beach, and your child will eventually want to try it out.

2. Show him some surf movies and go to the local surf shop every once in a while

Keep your Child Safe:

If your child is between 3 and 8 years old (teaching a child much younger than 3 is pointless), I would recommend you suit him up with a thin life preserver. It will help build confidence and help your child feel better when the inevitable wipeout holds your precious one down for a few seconds.

Also, a soft board is an invaluable tool in helping build confidence. They run about $300-$400 new. Ask your local surf school or surf shop if they have used soft boards which can go for very cheap. Also, they are often rented at most bigger surf shops. They are very wide and buoyant, made of soft bodyboard material, and have dull flexible fins. All of these designs are geared towards bruise-free and blood-free surf sessions.

Practice on Land:

Draw a surfboard outline in the sand with your finger and encourage your child to lie down, pretend to paddle and then pop-up as many times as possible. Make it a game. “Let’s see how many times you can pop up while I count to twenty.”

What is a pop-up you ask? It’s simply the most important factor in learning to surf. It’s basically a fast push-up that keeps going up into a standing position.

Here’s how it goes. With both of his hands on the top of the board (or beach sand facsimile), your child will do a quick push up. Only once his arms are at full extension, he should pull both knees toward his stomach and hop to his feet.

Be sure to tell your child, “DO NOT GO TO YOUR KNEES FIRST!” But don’t yell like that. Staying on your knees too long will only lead to difficulty keeping balance and make falling more possible. This move from stomach to feet is called a “pop up”. It should be one smooth motion straight to the standing position. Repeating your beach “pop up” will program your child’s subconscious to be ready for what will happen in the water.

Get Your Child Comfortable with the Water:

The ocean is a crazy lady, even when the surf is small. You don’t realize how much waves can knock someone around who is small and inexperienced in the ocean. Therefore, if your child is small enough (and your board is big enough), paddle around and even ride some waves with your kid on the nose. This is a blast for both of you, and it will build trust between you and your child, thus making it easier when you push the little ripper off on that first one alone.

Pick the Right Waves:

When your little dude (or little lady) is ready for that first solo wave, just go for little chunks of whitewater at first. Forget about unbroken swells since these will increase the nose dive factor on the drop. While a good wipeout builds character, some kids will shut down if they get scared. Once they have several waves under their belts, most kids will be ready for a drop in on a small open face.

The key at this point is to push your kid into as many waves possible to eliminate that fear factor and introduce the comfort factor.

Standing up

Try to encourage your child to “pop up” as soon as he feels the push of the wave. A little surfer at this level doesn’t need to worry about turning or anything else besides getting on both feet with his body’s midpoint squarely over the midpoint of the board. He shouldn’t lean forward or back. Instead, encourage him to keep his eyes fixed on the beach and his feet and arms spaced wide like a sumo wrestler.

Now you're Surfing!

If you get your kid to this point and he loves the rush, you are home free. The rest is simply practice and experience. Where to sit and how to paddle and how to turn will come as you and your child surf together. Now you just have to pack an extra board every time you head out for a session.

Have Fun!!!