There are two different ways to learn to surf: in a group in a surf school or with a personal instructor. So what to choose? Let’s make it out
If you take a group lesson, it means that you will learn to surf in a group of 8 or more students. And for all of you will be only one or at best two surf instructors. On the beach everything will be fine – your guide will explain to you surf theory, waves characteristics and show, what to do in the water. In the ocean you will try to apply this knowledge to practice. But your instructor should pay attention not only to you but also to other students. So he will not be able to look after you every time you take a wave. And you will wait for his help and advice wasting a lot of time not doing surfing or you will try to catch a wave by your own, choosing a wrong position and getting wipeout again and again. So in fact you will get a little surf practice and not many tips.
If you take a personal surf instructor, you can be sure that you will get more intensive surf practice and progress through the skills of surfing at a much faster rate. Your private lessons will be specifically designed to meet your needs depending on your experience, ability level and wishes. For the entire lesson your guide will help you to catch every suitable wave, give you some tips and provide you the most effective surf practice. So if you really want to learn to surf and achieve much success, it’s more effective to take an one-on-one coaching with well-experienced surf guide.
Some people come to Bali or to another surfing place, look at the beach and crowds of surfers there and decide just to rent a surfboard and try to learn to surf by themselves. And then… become disappointed with surfing. Because most of them don’t know where to be and what to do in the water and therefore can’t catch even one small wave. So why learning on your own does not work?
Surfing is a bit harder than it looks. If you make a decision to learn surfing by yourself, it can take years to become experienced surfer. So you will hardly achieve success if you are going to spend just several weeks nearby ocean. But if you take a surf instructor, you will get the most effective surf practice and walk the path, for example, from beginner to intermediate level more faster.
Surfing is an ocean sport and the ocean is not a joke! There are sharp corals, stones, heavy strong currents, undertows and of course very large waves. So it can be really dangerous for you and other surfers if you don’t have the ocean skills and don’t know what to do in the water. That’s why it’s better to take a surf guide, who not only explain to you the characteristics of surf location, but also will guarantee your safety.
Every surfer follows the proper rules of conduct which help to keep everyone in the water safe. So if you don’t know this surfing etiquette, you can be a danger to yourself or others. Or you will piss off some real surfers. But if you go surfing with a guide, he will focus attention on yours and other surfers safety.
So the lessons with a surf guide, especially with a private surf guide, shorten the learning curve significantly. The instructor helps you to understand the ocean, to learn surf etiquette and of course to have the most effective surf practice.
Don’t run a risk and start to surf in the most sensible way — with a surf guide.
Before surfing observe the spot: where and how the waves break, if they are coming in sets or patterns, where the "taking-off" area and also the channel is for getting back out to the sets. Even if you've surfed a spot before, the ocean is always changing. So it’s always a good idea to spend a few minutes on the beach and map out a general surf plan.
Rip currents can be highly dangerous, so only get in if you're sure you know how it works.
While you are checking the spot, warm up and stretch the body. Paddling out is a real body workout, so pay closest attention to your arms, shoulders and back. Attach your leash to the ankle of your back foot. The leash is an important safeguard in the ocean, keeping board near you even when you are smashed by the wave.
When you go into the water be aware of shore break. Shore break occurs when the waves crash in shallow water close to the shoreline. Start paddle and continue to keep in your mind the mental map of the spot. You should know the best route out to the breaks, hopefully avoiding any crashing waves that could knock you off your board.
The small waves you saw from the beach seem huge from the water.
It takes some time to get used to the feeling of approaching a wave, but once you learn the best techniques for beating them, you feel a lot more comfortable going for it. As you are paddling out be very mindful of the other surfers. If somebody catches a wave, he has the right of way. This means that you must clear the way for the rider.
When the breaking waves are over, the water becomes still and you finally have the opportunity to take a rest. This area is the waiting zone, where you sit back and watch the waves come in. Now you need to find the right take-off spot. Watch a few sets roll in and note where the curl of the wave begins.
The most important thing when you catch a wave is timing. The experienced surfers are able to predict how big an oncoming wave is and where it will begin to break. When you see a wave rolling in, you should face the nose of your board toward shore and lie down, ready to paddle.
Remember, the person closest to the pick of the wave gets the priority.
The way you paddle for a wave will depend on the size of your surfboard. It's easier to catch a wave with a longer board, because the wave has more surface to grab and move. Shorter boards usually require more paddling to get you going fast enough to catch the wave.
Practicing this move on the beach is the best way to prepare for the challenge of standing up in the water.
Your knees should be bent, your body balanced, and your eyes looking at the big picture – not the end of your board.
So you're balanced and comfy on your board, riding through the whitewash (first) or maybe down a wave's face (later). Now it's time to work on turning and maneuvering your board. Apply pressure to the back of the board as you lean slightly with the carve. Your hips, head and torso should remain fairly upright, while you use your lower body to steer the board.
Surfing is all about being a part of the environment. So don’t forget to take the time to smell the ocean.