Surf Tips by Zuma Surf and Swim for people learning to surf in Southern California

Wondering about how to approach a new surf spot? Nervous about paddling out in a crowded lineup? Having trouble on certain days at a spot you've been surfing a lot?

I've put together 10 tips for beginner and intermediate surfers that I feel are essential in becoming a better surfer. They'll help you to figure out new surf spots before you even paddle out and will help you to progress your skills at a faster rate. I've surfed up and down the California coast since I was 10 years old and have surfed all around the world. I've found that the better you are able to assess a spot and the conditions before you paddle out, the better experience you'll have out there. You won't be that person paddling out in the wrong spot about to get pounded on the rocks, or that guy/girl sitting way out in the channel letting everyone know that you have no idea where to sit to catch waves.

I hope these tips will help you to be successful as your surfing as you branch out to new spots and more challenging waves. But we can't give them to you all at once! Just one tip at a time, so you really take the time to think about it and put it into action.

Tip #1: Watch the water. (Yes, just like in the movie the North Shore. Sit and stare at the waves. You will start to see the subtle differences.)

Watch the water before you paddle out and as much as you can. Spend at least five minutes watching the surf and conditions before you paddle out. Maybe take this time to stretch out a bit? Figure out where the rocks are which way the current is going. Are there big sets every few minutes? Is it safe to paddle out today? Begin to develop a strategy that will help you to have a successful session. Decide where the best place to paddle out is. Which surfers are catching waves and which are not? If it’s a new beach, ask a lifeguard if there are rip-currents or where the surfing zone is. Watch other surfers paddle out. If you paddle out there will you get washed into the jetty? Taking this time to watch the water is crucial for two reasons: 1.) It will help you to become a safe and knowledgeable surfer, and 2.) once you begin to understand everything going on and are able to see the small variances in waves and conditions, you will be much more successful at catching waves. If you are running on the beach - watch the water. If you are hanging on the beach with friends or family - watch the water. If you are driving along the Pacific Coast Highway - watch the water. Just kidding! Watch the road!