Improving your ability to catch and approach waves is monumental for beginner surfers. The more waves you catch, the more waves you’ll surf. And the more time you spend actually riding waves, the better you’re going to get.
So far I’ve shared drills aimed at fixing the nosedive, hand placement, and fixing your surf stance – all common adjustments and improvements the beginner surfer can make to improve. Now we will make sure you catch more waves by knowing how to approach them. It is time to learn how to angle your take off. Angling is all about finding the right position on the wave face. The lizard is your inspiration.
Quick Analysis: Why You Miss a lot of Waves
Here is what is usually happening when you have paddled enough and are dropping in on the wave:
You want to be where the surfing lizard is, half way on the wave
1. You drop straight in (head and body is pointing forward). Typically you are starting to come down from the wave and pushed in front of the wave quickly (and get caught in the white water).
2. You are angling too much to one side: This slows you down and you likely miss the wave (wave is just passing underneath you).
How to angle the right way with your surfboard.
To adjust your angle, look to the side you want to go, catch the wave and paddle harder at the same time. Your board automatically will turn to the desired direction if you look to that side while you paddle.
Then right after the take off (pop up), you’ll want to turn your surfboard to the direction where you want to ride.
How to practice catching waves at an angle at home.
1. We will drill in how to look to the side and paddle harder on one side. It is all about how you place your hands, creating more speed on one side than on the other.
Use masking tape to create the following on your floor. The length of the line should be slightly wider (10–15cm) than your shoulders.
2. Put your hands on the two X’s, creating a pushup position with each hand on opposite sides of your line.
3. Extend your arms into the cobra or push up position while turning your head and chest toward the palm that is on the bottom X. Notice how the body turns automatically.
There’s definitely an exercise portion to getting better at this. You’ll need to do assisted push ups to strengthen your arms and shoulders for this specific movement.
You can do the pushups on books, or for more strength and balance training, use a medicine ball.
Just repeat this 10x on each side:
Up, down, up, down (10x), then switch sides. Make sure you keep the ball on the X that is further from your body (and the line). To switch sides you need to rotate your body 180 degrees!
Breathe in while going down and breathe out while pushing yourself up.
This exercise will help you put more pressure on one side. Practice this drill 10x in your living room or gym, committing it to muscle memory. Then just remember the lizard any time you want to angle a wave.