Top ten tips for a beginner surfer

Back to blog

Watergate Bay is on the north coast of Cornwall, the perfect place to catch some waves and learn to surf. With waves currently rolling in between 3-5ft tall it’s time to book in a lesson at Extreme Academy and take to the Atlantic.

But before you plunge into the ocean take a look at our top ten tips for a beginner surfer.


1. Always listen to your instructor

At the Extreme Academy all of our instructors are qualified lifeguards and have extensive local knowledge of Watergate Bay. They understand the currents and rip tides better than anyone so it pays to listen out to whatever they say. During the introduction to your lesson the instructors will brief you on general beach information, safe surfing areas, signals and surfing safety. Once this is out of the way the surfing fun can begin!

2. Keep Trying

When you watch the professionals surfing from the shore you will undoubtedly be thinking ‘that looks easy’, but it isn’t! Surfing is a skill with many techniques that take a few years to master so don’t be put off if you aren’t cutting up the waves after ten minutes in the sea. Like anything else surfing takes practice so keep at it and you’ll soon be making it look just as easy as the pros.


3. Don’t go out of your depth

Safety is paramount when surfing; you can never take the sea for granted, its power is truly awesome. Because of this, it is crucial you don’t go out of your depth. Waist or even thigh height is perfect for a beginner, not only does it mean you are safer but it also means you have the opportunity to catch more waves.

4. Paddle – a lot

Paddling is an essential part of catching a wave, it helps to build momentum so that when the wave hits the back of your board you will be propelled forward and be racing towards the shore line. The best way to paddle is to paddle hard, doing long strokes with cupped hands. The deeper you go into the sea the harder you will need to paddle, another reason not to go out of your depth.

5. Have the correct trim

This means being positioned in the correct place on the board. Whilst on land your instructor will teach you where to lay on the board as you attempt to catch a wave and how best to position your feet when you stand. If you are too far forward you will nose dive but if you are too far back the board will stall, both resulting in you falling off the board.

6. Cover your head!

Whilst on the topic of falling it is inevitable that you will fall off the board into the ocean and be left a bit bewildered as to what just happened. When this happens it is very important that you cover your head especially since you are in shallower water.

7. Stance

Everyone knows the famous surfer stance but many forget it when they are actually on a board. Stand side on, knees slightly bent, arms up with your hands facing the direction you want to travel in, eyes forward.

8. Keep your leash attached

Your leash should be attached to your back leg and always be fastened. It may seem like you are forever getting tangled up in it but we’d rather that then your board float away, never to be seen gain.


9. Surf etiquette

There are a few housekeeping rules when it comes to surfing, your instructor will fill you in on the ones they follow. But in general the biggest rule surrounds coining a wave. It is widely accepted that the person in front of you has ‘shot gun’ of the approaching wave so try to stagger yourself so that when you catch a wave you won’t be careering towards a poor unsuspecting novice.

10. Enjoy!

Don’t take the lesson too seriously because at the end of the day we want you to have fun! We want you to laugh when you fall off and soldier on! Determination is the key to making waves in surfing – excuse the pun.

Our instructors aim to make lessons enjoyable for all ages from start to finish and from what we’ve heard they are doing an excellent job.


The Extreme Academy provides a range of water and beach sports lessons throughout the year. Take your pick from surfing, waveski, kitesurf, kite buggy, land board or traction kite lessons – or try them all with an awesome ‘Extreme Day’.Whatever your level of experience, from novice to expert, the lessons are tailored to ensure that you learn at a pace that suits you. With small groups and cutting-edge equipment, you’ll find your skills developing fast. Our sports school provides hot showers, changing facilities and secure lockers for everyone taking part in our lessons and we also have hire facilities available. Open seven days a week: 9am – 5pm.

Call 01637 860840 to book your lesson.