Learn How To Catch A Wave Like a Legend!

When you start surfing it is important to start on the shore, between the foams to learn how to take a good take-off, but there comes a time when you are ready to go to the peak and start catching the waves before they break. Either because there were too many people in the spot, because you did not know the wave well or because many series were not entering. And the feeling that one of these sessions leaves you is not pleasant. In this post, we are going to give you some tips that you can apply to catch more waves.

How to face a wave?

In order to reach the area where the waves are born, it is essential to cross a border that at first may seem impossible: the area where the waves break. The first thing we advise people who want to learn to surf is to take a good look at where and how the wave breaks, and if there is a channel that can facilitate access. To cross this area, the first thing to do is face the wave decisively, without stopping paddling. If you stop, you will be an inanimate object that the wave will carry towards the shore and you will have to start over. Face the wave perpendicularly, any deviation will make you lose stability and the most probable thing is that the force with which it arrives will give you a good roll. To overcome the wave you must execute a maneuver called " do the duck". This is achieved by holding your board by the sides and pushing it down, submerging it as much as you can just before the wave hits you. As the wave passes over you, push the back of the board with your foot, keeping the board horizontal. The wave will have passed and you can continue paddling until the next one arrives. This is one of the hardest aspects for those who are learning to surf since sometimes it is very frustrating to paddle and have a wave throw you back to shore. But the moment you do, you'll be ready to go to the next level. From that moment on, a new stage in your surfing begins. With bigger waves and new sensations. You are no longer a beginner and now you have a world of possibilities before you to have a great time.

Difference between foam waves and easy waves

Learning to catch easy waves involves knowing how to differentiate if it is a wave or a foam. As a general rule, foams push you forward with force, that is why when you start surfing, you may catch waves of foam during your first sessions. The foams are relatively easy to catch, as the force of the broken wave pushes you forward. On the contrary, the waves that are noble and flabby have little force that allows you to enter the wave. You have to visualize it beforehand and anticipate.

Types of waves

Beach break:

They are characterized by the fact that they are waves with a sandy bottom. Generally, the waves of this type of break are formed by the accumulation of sand in a certain area. The sand accumulates due to currents or the waves themselves. In general, they are quite variable waves, that is, the bottoms are not always placed in the same place due to the continuous movement of the sand on the bottom. The fact that the waves break on a sandy bottom does not imply that they are the most recommended waves to learn to surf. Although they are beach waves, they can be very powerful. So if we are going to choose a Beach break to learn to surf, we must make sure that they are soft and maneuverable waves, there are very dangerous beach breaks that generate waves with a lot of energy.

Reef Breaks:

A reef break is a type of wave that is generated on coral or rock bottom. It is a type of wave that usually breaks in the same place since the bottom is not variable. Circumstances may arise that prevent the wave from breaking at the site, such as the direction or size of the swell. In general, they are not the most recommended waves to learn to surf, since hitting a rock or coral bottom can cause serious injuries. This does not mean that this type of break is always very dangerous, there are always exceptions. There are Reef Breaks that generate very soft and maneuverable waves, although this is not usual.

Point Breaks:

This type of break generates long and high-quality waves. They are waves that travel the coast for great distances. They are usually perfect waves to improve many of the main surfing maneuvers. This type of wave, being so long, can have different sections, from pipe sections to smooth sections for maneuvers. They are usually waves with not too much difficulty, although we do not always have a Point Break close to home. Of course, be careful with the currents in this type of wave. Note: Regardless of the type of break we choose to learn to surf, we should always look for soft waves with a moderate size.

Learn to recognise the parts of a wave:

Crest of the wave:

It is the top of a wave.

Wave lip:

It is the evolution of the crest of the wave when it begins to fall forward. That is, the ridge falls forward and the part that shoots out is the lip.


It is the hollow space, the cylindrical part that remains when the lip of the wave touches the valley (the part that remains at sea level). Every surfer when learning to surf dreams of getting inside.

Arm or wall:

It is the clean part of the wave, the wall. It may be that the clean part of the wave goes to the left (Left), to the right (Right), or to both sides. In short, the surfable length of the wave.

Basic safety rules that we will have to take into


➢ Be a good swimmer. ➢ Be aware of our level and use the material according to our needs. ➢ Learn to handle the board thinking of others and yourself. ➢ Keep a safe distance. ➢ Never enter the peak alone and tell someone about our surfing plan. ➢ Never jump on your head. Because the waves break precisely because the incoming wave is in a shallow area. ➢ After a romp, always go out hand-in-front. ➢ Ask other local surfers about the currents and dangers of each spot. ➢ Know our level, our limit and observe the waves a lot before entering one. ➢ Take good care of your material and review it frequently. ➢ Know well the type of wave you are going to surf and if your level is adequate.

Essential points to learn how to catch a wave


Communicating with other surfers in the water can help you catch more waves in one session. " Are you going for that one?" "Are you going to the left or to the right?" Simple and quick communication with the people around you can avoid situations where two or more people paddle the same wave and can help you catch more waves. Sometimes you don't paddle a wave because you think someone else is going to catch it. When you see that that person is not going to paddle that wave, it is usually too late. In these cases communication is essential. There are some waves where you can surf both to the left and to the right. They are known as the A-shaped ones. In these cases, communication will help you know in which direction the other person is going, and you can both catch the wave.

Analyse the spot

When you go to the beach, spend a couple of minutes analyzing the spot from the outside. Although it is your local spot, conditions can change from one day to the next, especially if it is on a sandy bottom. In addition, there will be peaks that are more crowded than others. Sometimes it is worth trying a different peak, where there are fewer people. The waves may not be as good as the other ones, but you will end up catching many more waves.

Don't go inside

Try to be a little less inside than the other surfers. In this way, you will be able to catch the waves that those who are further inside cannot or do not want to catch. This is a great technique to increase the number of waves in a session, but it requires experience since you have to be able to hold the series that will break in front of or even on top of you and you must be prepared to get out of the line of other surfers who catch the wave. This technique implies preferring quantity over quality. You won't catch the "wave of the day," but you will catch a lot more waves, which is ideal if you are practicing a new technique.


Especially on sandy beaches, do not be in the same place all the time, unless it is perfect. Explore a bit. Try different peaks, look around and see where the waves are breaking more consistently. Always stay tuned for new opportunities. A big wave can come at a completely unexpected time. You must react quickly, and for example if someone falls into a good wave when taking the take-off and you are in a position to catch it, be quick and take advantage!

Position yourself to catch an easy wave

Sit about 4-5 meters away from where most of the waves break. Why? Because if you wait at the exact point where most waves break, the moment you turn around and paddle to catch a wave, you will be catching a foam that has already broken or caused the wave to break on top of you. How far are the most experienced surfers? They probably know where to sit perfectly to catch their wave. This does not mean that you should go sit right next to them and rush their waves. It is just an indicator to know approximately how far you should row. We often see beginner surfers sitting much further away than very experienced surfers. This is nonsense. Or there are just no waves crashing that far on that day. Or, if there are waves that break much further out than where experienced surfers sit, it means that these are a set of bigger and "rare" waves (which you probably don't want to catch as a beginner surfer!). Look at the horizon and look for lines. What you are looking for is a "phase A" wave that then transforms into a "phase B" wave about 3 to 5 meters behind you. Pick a wave, turn around, and do a minimum of 8 strong strokes. You have to paddle hard enough to match the speed of the wave during the transition from "Phase A" to "Phase B". This seems silly but it is super important, since half the times that we lose a wave, going over it and seeing how it goes, it is because we have not matched its speed and it has not "hooked" us.


Row with long, strong, and deep strokes. This is especially important for catching uninterrupted waves. You have to give everything you have when paddling, especially when you feel the tail of your surfboard rise and push: this is a key moment to "stick" to it. Position on your surfboard when paddling is key. Correct paddling technique is not only done with proper strokes and strokes, but also with the correct position of your body on the surfboard. The correct position on the surfboard is when your chest is perfectly centered in the width of the board, and when you are at the correct height. Keep your head up (pretending there is a soccer ball between your chin and the surfboard). Surfer A Surfer A paddles with long, strong, deep strokes, and is correctly positioned on his surfboard, with his nose about 1 inch out of the wave. Two seconds later, surfer A has risen onto the face of the wave. When the wave "lifts" you, it would normally create more space between your nose and the water. But Surfer A keeps his head down at this critical moment, putting more weight toward the front of his surfboard. This weight makes the difference between "sticking" to the green wave or going over it. Surfer B Surfer B paddles short, shallow strokes and sits too far back on his surfboard, causing his nose to protrude significantly. Two seconds later, Surfer B stands upon the face of the wave. The space between your nose and the water becomes even larger as you ride up the wave. Surfer B is too far back on his surfboard and does not bring his head close to his board during this critical moment. It is impossible for you to "stick" to this wave and you will pass over it. Your head and the top of your shoulders probably weigh 20 kilos or more. Imagine the difference that bringing your head lower and closer to the surfboard can make when you get up on a wave. This is really what helps you catch, hit, and go down that "hill" or "ramp" moving forward. Many beginners get used to being pushed by their coaches in waves that are not broken, which is great for practicing. But when you get pushed, you don't necessarily have to lower your head to put the weight on the front of the surfboard. If you feel frustrated that it is difficult to catch green waves without your surf coach, you should know that shifting the weight of your head towards the surfboard is the secret to catching easy waves on your own.

When to take off?

You should do your take-off at about 2/3 of the height of the wave. Once you feel your tail lift, and after you feel like you've created enough momentum by gliding with the wave, take two last strokes, put your hands on the board next to your chest, arch your back, and take off! There comes a time when you have to get up. When you feel confident that you have caught the rhythm of the wave and have given those two extra strokes, do not hesitate and go up! A common mistake is to keep paddling down the face of the wave until it breaks completely. Arching your back will help you avoid nose dips and also reduce your speed so you don't drop the entire wave on you. Attention: when paddling, never put the board sideways in relation to the wave. Always keep the iron with the tip towards the peak. A wave suddenly rises in front of you: you dive by releasing your board, but make sure that no one is behind you if you can't try to retain the board by taking the invention as close as possible. If you get into a stream (take a reference point before going to the peak) and you can't get out of it, take advantage of the foam, taking advantage of the current.

What to do after take-off

Bottom turn

This is the first turn, where everything begins and from which you are going to chain the rest of the turns. The fundamental thing in the bottom turn is to conserve energy. Lower the wave vertically after getting up to catch the maximum possible speed and before reaching the bottom completely lie down towards the side you are going to. Stretch your entire body as you round the bend, staring where you are going. The higher you put your gaze on the wall of the wave, the more energy you will conserve. When you exit the turn, regain the flex to turn again on the wall of the wave.

Pick up speed

Running on the wall is a basic maneuver for sections where the wave closes very fast and it will also help us pick up speed. It is what is called the triple-speed (1 speed of the wave, 2 speed of the diagonal that we surf, 3 speed of the zigzag on the diagonal). After the bottom turn, raise your knees and look at an escape point at the end of the section. Stretch your body when you lower the board and shrink it when you go up. With each zigzag, with each rise and fall, you will conger a little more speed.

Cut back

Going fast is just as important as knowing how to break and wait. The cut back will allow us to return to where the wave pushes, just like stepping on the tail to stop but with much more style. This is a complicated maneuver, I don't pretend that you key in the first time, in fact, it requires a lengthy debugging process. Go down as vertically as you can with the maximum possible speed and slowly climb the wall on a diagonal away from the vertical to where the wave turns into a wave, where it loses its peak. It is time to turn around. Tomb balancing the weight on both feet and from above there is a wide turn to the bottom. Now you go facing the wave, pick up your knees and lie to the other side this time step a little further back to make a shorter turn. Ideally, this should happen in less than a second, but calmly, little by little.

Be patient

If the waves are not coming, don't despair trying to catch whatever comes. This will make you more tired and unable to ride the good waves well. Save your time and strength for the best waves.

Additional tips

Look over your shoulder when you paddle for a wave. Glancing behind you is the only way to know if you need to paddle more, paddle less, or even stop paddling for a while, depending on the shape of the wave. If you look back, you will know if the wave was too vertical, too weak, or just correct, thus understanding why you failed or managed to catch a wave without breaking. Many beginner surfers don't take a look at the wave and make a mistake when paddling. Either they get the wave to pass overhead, or they catch a wave of white water. You just can't learn from your mistakes if you don't look back and see what really happened. The bigger your board, the easier it will be to catch easy waves. Catching green waves is about paddling fast enough to match the speed of a wave. The sooner you can "catch the momentum" of the wave, the sooner you can get up and surf. Since large boards paddle much faster than small boards, they make it easier to catch these waves. The best surfers catch more waves because they move a lot. When you see a ripple or line on the horizon, ask yourself: is it a larger wave that is going to break farther, or a smaller wave that is going to break closer to shore? The more experience you have in reading waves, the more proactive you will be and the easier it will be to paddle and position yourself to catch waves without breaking.

How are the waves formed?

In short, waves are formed by the friction of the wind with the surface. The height and strength of the wave will depend on the speed of the wind, the time it has blown, and the distance it travels. Basically, the longer the wind blows, the bigger the waves will be when they hit the mainland.

Is the wind important?

The wind plays a fundamental factor in the formation of the waves but it is not only important for this. Depending on how the wind affects the waves, these will have better or worse quality.

Off-Shore Wind

The wind blows from land to sea and is the best wind for surfing, this type of wind will leave clean and well-defined waves.

On Shore Wind:

The wind blows from sea to land, if this wind blows strong forget about surfing. You will find broken and poor quality waves, it is not the best wind to learn to surf.

Side Shore Wind:

The wind affects the waves laterally, it is not the best wind for surfing but it does not destroy the waves at all. You can give it.

No wind or glassy:

This type of condition together with the offshore wind is what we all expect. The absence of wind leaves the sea like oil and there can be perfect conditions to learn to surf.

Advanced Maneuvers

If you would like to know a little more about surfing, here are some other things that you may hear from people of a more advanced level. How to go under a wave? Duck dive or Turtle Roll In order to reach the outer zone, the peak, it will be necessary to pass the foams and the different sections of waves breaking. The duck consists of going under the wave by sinking the tip first, and then sinking the tail with a push of the foot, starting the maneuver about 2 seconds before the wave hits us. In order to make the duck, we will need a small board that allows us to sink it.


The best recommendation we can make to practice pumping is with a surf skateboard. If you really want to get better at surfing, and you don't have regular waves near your house, it is a must-have to practice pumping and other maneuvers.

Bottom turn (your first bottom turn)

The bottom turn consists of the maneuver to catch the energy to perform a trick, or simply to go from the lower part of the wave to the higher part.

Things you shouldn't do if you want to catch more

easy waves

Don't row too fast with short strokes. Keep doing long, full strokes and dig deep with your hand and arms for optimal propulsion. Don't row too far into the wave. At first, you should paddle perpendicular to the wave, looking directly at the beach. This is the easiest way to catch noble waves. Only once you feel very comfortable paddling these waves should you start paddling at a slight angle to help you go left or right on a wave. Do not think you have paddled enough, do not trust yourself. When in doubt if you've paddled long enough for a wave, just take those 2 extra strokes before you get up. Don't be afraid of plummeting. The mouth dive never happens because you've paddled too efficiently. On the contrary, it usually happens when you hesitate, do not paddle enough, lose speed and the wave pushes you forward. It can also happen if you are paddling too high on the surfboard and your nose is already sinking into the water before you even paddle out to catch a wave. Finally, you may sink because you are trying to catch the wave at the wrong "Stage". Instead of paddling into "Stage B", you're trying to paddle into a "Stage C" wave that is too vertical and sends your surfboard forward, sinking your nose into the water. An important part of your surf coach's job is to position yourself perfectly in "Step B" of a wave so that you catch it. It may push you back a bit of a bigger wave is coming, or it may pull you closer to shore if the wave is smaller. He does it so that you end up in the best possible place to catch the wave. This is great for both fun and surfing, but you have to understand where and why it places you at certain points in the water. When your coach sets you perfectly on a wave without breaking, look over your shoulder before catching the wave and get a mental picture - this is the kind of wave you'll be looking for when your surf lessons finish!