How to Ride Longboards

If you're interested in becoming a surfer and want to learn, a longboard is your best bet to learning fast and getting hooked instantly. Longboards are by far one of the easiest boards to learn on because of their stability and ease of catching small-mid sized waves.


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    Find yourself a surfboard 8 foot (2.4 m) or taller. These typically will be more stable, and catch small waves better. The larger the board, the easier it is to stand on, but the harder it is to accelerate. I recommend to rent at a local surf shop or find a friend with an extra board.
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    Make sure that the board has a non slippery surface before heading out. See How to Wax a Surfboard.
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    Find out the local surf report for 1–2 foot (0.3–0.6 m) waves for beginners, is usually reliable. Expect on 1–2 foot (0.3–0.6 m) days, the 3 foot (0.9 m) wave of the day. Look for middle level tides as they usually yield waves. Long boarders should avoid waves where they "wall-up" in other words, there is no rolling barrel to ride.
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    Get in the water and paddle. It's best to position yourself in the middle of the board bisecting the center of the board, lengthwise along the stringer.
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    Find the sweet spot. You do this by adjusting yourself forward and back along the center of the board. Usually the most efficient place to paddle from is when the nose of your board is just out of the water. You'll know you've found the sweet spot by how little effort it takes to make you and the board move.
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    Paddle with good posture. Arching your shoulders back while planting your abs to the board raises your leverage and helps propel you better with fewer strokes. Not to mention it helps you be able to get a better view of what swells are coming your way.
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    Get past the break and watch the sets, find the best area where the waves are breaking and reposition yourself just outside it to wait for the right wave. Pick an area with fewer surfers that way there are less obstacles and people to worry about. Sit on your board as you wait, work on your balance and enjoy the water. This is my favorite part... the anticipation. Work on turning but leaning back on the tail and spinning your feet and making wide sweeping strokes with cupped hands.
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    Turn and paddle hard to gain momentum once you spot your wave. This is where most people fail. Not much is needed but you can't rely on the wave to accelerate you. With bigger boards accelerating enough to catch the wave could be a problem for new paddlers. Ask a friend to help push you into a wave or work on your paddling until you find that sweet spot and can drop in and go to next step. If you nose dive as you're dropping in, one of two things will help stop this:
    • Backup on your board and put more weight back
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    • The wave is getting too steep for your board, so catch the wave and drop in at an angle rather than straight.
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    • When standing, stay crouched until momentum is gained
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    Stand up! Do it fast! Remember, you can never do it fast enough. The faster you can stand the more likely other surfers will clear your path or give you right of way. If someone has caught a wave between you and where the wave is breaking from, back off the wave. It is proper surfer etiquette and will save you dings and bruises. Remember to communicate as most surfers will be happy to help you out and to not get in a collision course.
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    Lean one way or another and slowly turn, once you've caught the wave. Get the feel for the stability of the board and the power of the wave or lack of it. Find the right angle that keeps you going and when comfortable try adjusting your footing and move about the board.
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    After the initial dropping into a wave and making the bottom turn, the critical part of your ride is over. Beyond this, occasionally have a long ride all the way to shore. The wave will never be perfect, there will be dead spots that a longboard can connect the peaks with and only the most talented short boarders can. To connect the small peaks use these techniques to get just a bit more speed:
    • Pounding the board up and down. Lift the board nose up and pound it down. Shortboarders are good at this, imitate their energetic pounding.
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    • Run up to the nose to get more weight forward and to angle the board downwards. Scoot the board forward by jumping and landing with both feet and jerk the board forward. After the board scoots forward, you will be standing further back on the board where you can pound the board again.
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    • Do and up/ down and instantly paddle with deep, double hand strokes. After the board is riding the wave again, jump up to your feet in one motion and continue steering and pounding. Practice on dry land, the instantaneous moving from the stand up to the prone position and vice versa.
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    Don't get discouraged. Get in the water as often as you can. Everyday for a week and you'll see yourself improve overnight. Watch surf videos like endless summer and ES2 and watch other surfers and their moves, how they walk the boards, hang five, ten, do cool tricks, catch waves, cut back and attempt to mimic them. All the while keep perfecting your paddling, turning, balance and speed at popping up to standing and you'll be a pro in no time. Bring a friend and have fun! There is nothing better than to share the experience of being out on the water with a good bud.


  • Beware of wet suits that are too tight and pinch, have neck seams that will cause abrasion and tightness just behind armpit as these are major chaffing points
  • Workout regularly strengthening your shoulders, back and arms in pulling motions as this will make you a stronger paddler.
  • Drink lots of water, its easy to get dehydrated on hot days
  • Take care of your board.
  • Swim in between swells. Row or paddle if swimming gets boring, stay in shape for the next swell.
  • if you choose not to use a rash guard or wet suit, try flexing your abs and planting them in one spot on the board. The less you move your stomach the less abrasion will occur.
  • Don't get burned! Use sun screen!
  • Invest in a good set of board shorts as you will soon be living in them, make sure they fit because you're bound to lose weight
  • has up to date and accurate tide/surf reports for many regions and live web cams.
  • Rash guards will protect your chest from wax but will stay wet and if air is cold so will you. Black rash guards help absorb more heat and keep you warmer
  • When on the beach on a windy day, study the hydrodynamics of your surfboard. Use this knowledge when going thru a big, broken wave or when caught on the inside by big wave.


  • Avoid areas with frequent white shark sightings if possible.
  • Go with a friend, it's always best to have someone who knows you nearby as it improves the experience and helps in case of emergency.
  • Strengthen your leg muscles and be able to be underwater for a moderate length of time in preparation for when you get dragged by the longboard. When surfacing, you many not have a lot of time to breath because another wave might be coming in and additionally, it takes time for a thick layer of white water to settle. Fine tune your leash length.
  • Avoid problems with other surfers by not dropping in on surfers already on the wave because by doing this your are limiting their mobility and possibly endangering them. Do not "cut in line" when in the lineup, wait your turn.
  • Note the wind conditions and gauge whether your swimming ability is sufficient to retrieve a loose board. Be able to swim in shallow water and with speed. Usually after losing your board, your board will be on the inside and moving laterally. You must swim shallow in shallow water to avoid injuring your lower legs on coral, sea urchins and rocks. Retrieve your board quickly to avoid getting it damaged, stolen, or blown away, and lost forever, with the wind.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected "getting caught on the inside" by rating the different methods of not getting separated with your board. Use the appropriate method for each situation, for example a board is much more stable, when not riding it, if it is belly up.
  • Set a maximum wave height to use a longboard in such as three to five feet.

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Categories: Surfing