Select Page

6 Tips to Help you Surf like Pro when You’re a NEWBIE!

6 Tips to Help you Surf like Pro when You’re a NEWBIE!

Learning to surf in Australia is on the bucket list for nearly every backpacker who turns up in the Arrivals lounge with a backpack full of dreams. But often, many find learning to surf becomes a nightmare…

Surfing is not (as I discovered for myself having begun learning as an adult) as easy as it seems – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to learn! But fear not, through extensive fails, dumps and angry hollers from locals in the line-up, the Visiting NSW team has come up with a few tips to get you in the water without feeling like a complete kook (with a bad-ass glossary to get you stoked about your surfing lingo).

Surfing like a pro doesn’t mean going through 6ft barrels and ripping up the lip to smash out a 360 air – it’s a mindset, a healthy respect for the ocean, fellow surfers and the sport. So, to make the most of your water time, you should follow their example…

1) Pro Surfers Always Learn from the Best


If you have never surfed before, you’re going to have to get yourself some help. Not only to give you practical tips to get you up and riding quicker, but also to give you the lowdown on safety aspects. You can’t take chances with Mother Ocean – she’s a force to be reckoned with! A great surf school like Manly Surf School (Voted #1 in NSW by Surfing Australia) will get you riding your first wave and ripping safely in no time!


2) Pro Surfers Always have the Right Equipment

Once you’ve gained some experience and confidence with a surf school, you may feel ready to tackle the waves yourself. Don’t fall for the same mistake many newbies make. It’s temping to splash out (excuse the pun) and get a sleek, cool short board. But here’s the deal – trying to learn to surf on a short board will not make you feel like Kelly Slater – It’ll make you feel like an idiot.

Improve quicker, have more fun and catch more waves by getting yourself a beginner’s board you can progress on. You’ll want the most volume as possible to help stay afloat – so think long and wide. Something like a Bic Mini Mal is perfect – not only will you have a lot of fun, but they are also pretty indestructible too! Progress to smaller boards as you improve, and you will, with plenty of practice!

3) Pro Surfers follow the Surfing Etiquette Rules

Every sport has them, and there’s nothing that gets a local surfer more fired up than a newbie who’s disregarded the rules.

You don’t want to be dropping in on someone flying down the inside and ending up in a tangled heap of broken bones and surfboards. Learning the etiquette of the waves makes your surf time safer and more enjoyable for all. Now the entire list is a whole other blog post (not to mention the ‘unwritten’ rules unique to each local spots), so for now, you can discover some great ‘surf etiquette’ with Manly Surf School just here.

4) Pro Surfers Know their Limits

One of the biggest mistakes newbie surfers make is hitting the waves without knowing their limits.

Choosing the right conditions and the right waves will make the world of difference to both your confidence and your skillz. In the first year of surfing I tried going out in all conditions – I got battered, dumped, held under and washed upside down. It was a hard lesson in knowing my limits! Choose days when waves are friendly, allowing you to get to grips with learning to read the waves without swallowing a bucket full of seawater in the process!

5) Pro Surfers Learn about each Break they Surf

There is nothing more thrilling than standing up on your first wave, and then your first green wave, and then your first turn – the list is endless. But you’re gonna have to get water savvy to do these things safely. So learn as much as you can about each break you attempt to surf – and don’t be afraid to ask the locals! They love giving away their advice and showing off their local knowledge! Learn what tides times are the best to surf, or if there are any tricky rips or sandbanks, and maybe unexposed rocked under the surface. Following a website like Coastal Watch is a great way to learn more about your surf break of choice and finding out when the conditions are right for you. And is a pretty handy site highlights safety aspects of each break.


6) Pro Surfers have Fun!


There is a much-used saying in the surfing world, “The best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.” Learning to surf is a life-long pursuit. You’ll always be striving to improve – just like everyone else in the water. There are days when you might feel frustrated, days when you’ll feel defeated. The learning curve is steep but the rewards are endless. So don’t forget to have fun!


Ultimately we’re all searching for that feeling – the freedom, the ecstasy, the ride of our lives. The moment when nothing else in the world matters but the power of the ocean beneath our feet – and only a surfer knows that feeling… we’d love to hear about yours!


More Surf Related Pics with @visitingnsw

Glossary of Surf Terms

Surf-Talk is almost a different language to newbie surfers, but hopefully with this helpful glossary from you’ll be talking the surf, even if you’re not yet surfing the surf… if you get my drift?

Aerial – a surf maneuver where a surfer hits the crest of the wave and flies through the air

A-frame – a wave peak breaking left and right with perfect shape

Aggro – an Australian expression for aggressive surfing or aggressive surfer

Alaia – a surfboard made of wood originally used by Hawaiians to surf breaking waves, in the late 19th century

Aloha – a Hawaiian greeting that means “hello” or “goodbye”Backdoor – when a surfer pulls into a hollow section from behind the section

Backside – when a surfer rides with his back to the wave

Backwash – when a wave sweeps up the beach and returns to the ocean, sometimes colliding with incoming waves

Bail – an evasive maneuver activated when a surfer is caught inside or when he is about to wipeout

Bailing – letting go of your surfboard

Barrel – the tube, the curl of the wave

Bathymetry – the measurement of depths of water in oceans and seas

Beach break – waves that break over sandbars

Blank – a rough block of polyurethane foam that will be transformed into a surfboard

Bodysurf – the sport of riding waves the body and swim fins

Bogging – what happens when a surfer’s weight is too far back, and the surfboard nose lifts up

Bombora – a deep water, offshore reef break

Bottom turn – when a surfer turns at the bottom of the wave to start trimming the optimal surf line

Bro – brother, mate

Carve – a sharp turn on the wave face

Chandelier – water falling at a barrel opening threatening the tube rider

Chop – bumpy ocean and wave conditions that are rough due to strong winds and/or currents

Closeout – when a wave breaks all at once, with no shape or shoulder

Corduroy – the vision of a series of swells marching in from the horizon

Crest – the top and highest point of a wave

Cutback – a turn performed on the flats or in the shoulder of the wave, in order to get the surfer back on the surf line

Deck – the top of the surfboardDing – a crack, hole or fracture in a surfboard

Drop in – to get in the right of way of a surfer who is already riding a wave

Drop – the moment after paddling in and standing up, just before the first turn of the wave face

Duck Diving – the technique of pushing the surfboard under and through a breaking wave

Dude – a cool person or surfer

Epoxy – a type of plastic resin used to produce surfboards

Fetch – the uninterrupted distance over which the wind blows without a significant change of direction

Fin – a hydrofoil mounted at the tail of a surfboard to improve directional stability and control through foot-steering

Flat – with no waves, or with no surf

Flats – the horizontal part of a breaking wave, also known as the shoulder

Floater – a surf maneuver where the rider goes over the top of a crumbling section and ends up in the flats

Foam board – a surfboard for beginners, with an exterior shell made of soft foamFoam – whitewater

Frontside – when a surfer rides facing the waveFroth – stoked, amped or excited

Glassy – a maritime condition when there is no wind to ripple the wave face

Gnarly – awesomeGoofy foot – a surfer who rides waves with his right leg forward

Grommet – a young surfer

Groundswell – a swell that traveled thousands of miles through the ocean, with a period of 15 seconds or more

Gun – a big surfboard for riding big waves

Hang loose – a Hawaiian expression for a relaxing, easygoing and carefree attitude

Haole – an Hawaiian word for “foreigner”

Heat – a competitive period held in surf contests

Inside – the area where waves end, as opposed to outside

Kick out – a surf maneuver done at the end of a wave ride to exit it

Knot – a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour

Kook – a beginner surfer, an inexperienced surfer or a bad surferLeash – the cord that attaches a surfboard to the surfer

Line-up – the spot in the ocean where surfers line up to catch waves, just behind the breaking zone

Lip – the curling part of a wave

Localism – an aggressive territorial protection of a surf spot by local surfers

Longboard – the longest surfboardLull – time between sets of wave with no waves breaking

Mack – big

Mental – crazy or radical

Mysto spot – a surf spot that breaks on a far away reef

Neoprene – an ultra stretchy rubber made from melted-down petroleum chips used to make wetsuits

Offshore wind – wind blowing from the shore out to the ocean, holding the curl line and smoothing the wave face

Onshore wind – wind blowing from the ocean toward shore, destroying the quality of waves

Out the back – an Australian expression for paddling through the breaking waves into the line-up zone

Outline – the shape of a surfboard from nose to tail

Outside – the line-up are, as opposed to inside

Paddle battle – a race between surfers to get into a curl first and thus gain the right of way

Peak – the spot in the ocean where the wave breaks for both sides

Pearling – what happens when a surfer’s weight is too far forward and the surfboard nose dives underwater

Pit – the impact zone of the wave

Pitted – tubed, barrelled

Pop-up – the quick move a surfer makes to rise to a standing position when taking off on a wave

Punt – to perform an aerial manoeuvre

PWC – personal watercraft; a generic term for a jet ski

Quiver – the number/collection of surfboards owned by a surfer

Rail – the edge of a surfboard

Rash guard – a form-fitting shirt made of nylon-polyester-spandex mixture used under the wetsuit

Reef break – a wave that breaks over rock or coral

Reflection – when a wave strikes a hard object and bounces some of its energy off into another direction

Refraction – the effect by which a swell moving along a point of land slows down where it feels shallow water

Regular foot – a surfer who rides waves with his left leg forward

Right of way – priority given to the surfer closer to the breaking part of the wave

Rip – to surf very well

Rip current – a strong surface current of short duration flowing seaward from the shore, also known as rip tide

Rocker – the curve of the surfboard bottom from nose to tail viewed from the side

Rogue wave – an open ocean wave bigger than the current sea conditionSection – a part of the wave that breaks ahead of the curl line

Set – a group of waves

Shaka – a Hawaiian hand gesture used to say “hello,” “great,” “cool” and “alright”

Shaper – a surfboard designer and producer

Shoaling – the effect by which waves entering shallower water increase in height

Shore break – the area where the ocean waves meet the beach

Shortboard – a small surfboard

Slab – an heavy reef break coming out of deep water and breaking in very shallow water

Snaking – the aggressive act of paddling under, around, or over the top of another surfer to get right of way

Soup – the broken foam of a wave

Stall – a surf maneuver when a surfer slows the speed the surfboard to let the tube catchup

Stance – the surfer’s feet position on a surfboardStick – a slang for surfboard

Stringer – the wooden material that runs down the centre of the surfboard to give strength and flexibility to the foam

Stoked – enthusiastic, exhilarated, or excited

SUP – stand up paddleboard

Surging wave – a wave that doesn’t have time to break because the transition from deep-water to shallow water is too fast.

Swell – energy powered by strong winds which produces wave trains

Take-off – the start of a wave ride

Thruster – the three-fin surfboard design

Tidal bore – a rare phenomenon in which the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave that travels up a river

Tow-in – when surfers use personal watercraft to tow into waves that can’t be paddled into.

Trimming – finding the perfect surf line for speed on the wave face

Trough – the bottom of the wave, the opposite of a crest

Tsunami – a giant and deadly wave

Tube – the hollow interior of a wave, also known as barrel

Turtle roll – a surfing technique where the surfer flips the board over in front of an oncoming wave to get under itTwin-fin – a surfboard with two fins

Wave height – the difference between the elevations of a crest and a neighboring trough

Wave period – the time between two consecutive wave crests

Wave train – a group of swells of similar wavelengths

Wavelength – the distance between the crest of one wave to the crest of the next wave

Wax – a paraffin-based product which is applied to the surfboard deck to increase traction and reduce slippery

Wedge – a steep wave

Wetsuit – a garment made of neoprene which provides thermal insulation

Whitewater – the foamy, white-coloured water created where a wave breaks – perfect for learning to surf!

Windswell – a group of waves generated by local winds, within less than 800 miles from the coast

Wipeout – an unexpected fall off a surfboard while surfing a wave, or surf accident

Founder of VisitingNSW & Head Honcho

A pen-wielding, surfboard-hugging Wanderluster with absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever. Get’s lost several times a day, adding extra adventure to well planned out travel itineraries.

facebook linkedin instagram twitter2

About The Author

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *