Who is This Guide For?

It’s no secret that surfing has gained a huge amount of popularity over the past few years with more and more surf schools popping up along Europe’s coastlines. Have you ever wondered why? Well, because surfing is AWESOME! Here at Star Surf Camps, we think it’s safe to say that the unbeatable adrenaline rush of catching a wave has simply become contagious and that’s why more and more people are starting to learn to surf.

That’s why we’ve designed this beginner guide for all new and aspiring surfers, to help you through everything starting with the fundamentals of surfing, such as choosing a surfboard or understanding wave, the best workouts and yoga routines to help you stay surf fit.

What Does it Cover?

The Benefits of Surfing

If you’ve never surfed before and are still on the fence as to whether or not to take the plunge, we’ve shared some of the greatest benefits of learning to surf below.  For a little more detail, check out our top 5 reasons why everyone should learn to surf!

 

1 | Surfing is good for both body & mind


Surfing is both mentally and physically a godsend for your body. Having a bad day? Feeling stressed? Need a break from your workload? Try surfing and we promise you’ll have no regrets. Many new surfers report that one of the biggest improvements was in their mental health. Being in the and connecting with the ocean is one of the most refreshing, excuse the pun, feelings there is. In fact, Netflix have recently released an award winning documentary about how surfing is being used as a life changing therapy for wounded veterans. 

 

2 | Surfing gets you travelling


Learning to surf can take you all over the world. With incredible spots such as Hawaii, Australia, Sri Lanka,Morocco, Portugal and Spain, there are plenty of destinations to choose from to suit every travellers’ needs.

When you are not on your surfboard perfecting your pop up, another benefit of learning to surf in an exotic destination is the awesome opportunity to explore and soak up a new culture. The surf lifestyle usually extends outside the surf school, so why not grab your friends and spend your afternoons exploring and discovering new places. The benefits you gain from travelling in this way are one of the best reasons to pick up a surfboard and learn to surf in the first place!

 

3 | Connect with nature & fall in love with the ocean


Being in the ocean makes you appreciate what a delicate creature Pachamama (Mother Nature) really is and will always be. There are an infinite number of reasons that contribute to perfect waves and all of which relate back to the ebb and flow of the earth.  It is no accident that most surfers are also environmentalists to some degree. 

It is a well-researched fact that the sea air not only improves your mood, but will help improve your sleep cycle. Combine this with an intense surf session and you will be sleeping like a baby for the duration of your first ever surf trip. Learning to surf and falling in love with the ocean go hand in hand, and it will start to feel like a second home to you before long.

 

4 | A chance to truly disconnect


Swapping the office for sandy beaches will not only do wonders for your health, but you will experience a sense of calm that can only be brought on by the ocean. In a world of smartphones, TVs and computers, consumables have never been more readily available and instant gratification sits in the palms of our hands. However, surfing is one of the only times when we can truly disconnect, as all our focus is on finding and catching that next wave. 

 

5 | That post surf feeling


The post-surf chill can be just as fulfilling and fun as learning to surf itself. Whether you are grabbing some food to replace those much-needed calories, cracking open a few cold beers with your friends or completely collapsing in a ball for a movie marathon, the post-surf relax is one of the nicest and most satisfying feelings ever. 

Even more interesting is the use of vibro-acoustic therapy. Simply exposing patients to rhythmic oceanic sounds has shown to slow the heart rate and release endorphins. So, if you’re hung-over or feeling down, jump in the ocean, have a paddle see how it changes your mood!

Surfboards Explained

Which kind of surfboard do I need?


Now a surfboard isn’t quite as basic as ‘just a surfboard’. There are multiple different parts to a surfboard, all of which serve a different purpose.

There are also multiple different types of surfboards, depending on your height, weight, ability, surf style and the wave type! Check out the video on the right for a deep dive on:

⇒ The difference between longboards and shortboards

⇒ The best surfboards for beginners

⇒ Common mistakes beginners make when picking a surfboard

⇒ The best surfboards for different wave types

Surf Theory
Wave Types

Waves are formed due to low-pressure weather systems far out in the middle of the ocean. Much like dropping an object into a pool of water, waves spread out in a ripple-like motion and can travel for hundreds and thousands of miles before hitting land or shallow water. This is when the wave will ‘break’ and is what gets us surfers all excited.

Waves generally arrive in groups, or what surfers call ‘sets’. Sets can be anywhere from three to thirty minutes apart, arriving one after the other in threes, fours or more. Set waves are normally larger and more powerful than the other waves in between.

There are three different types of ‘waves’ or ‘breaks’, each defined by what causes the wave to crest and subsequently break. These are beach breaks, reef breaks and point breaks.

Beach Breaks


A beach break is where a wave has moved from deep to shallow water over a sandy seabed. These types of waves are the best type of waves for beginners and amateur surfers as they generally break with less force than a reef break and are a little kinder to those trying to master riding them.

Although the waves are usually short, the risk factor is much lower as you are falling onto the sand. However, this doesn’t mean that all beach breaks are easy and not as powerful as reef breaks. Some of the largest, most powerful waves in the world are beach breaks such as the big wave spot Nazaré, in Portugal.

A good example of a more common beach break is Hossegor in the south-west of France, just down the road from our Moliets Surf Camp.

Reef Breaks


Reef breaks are where a wave breaks over a coral reef or rocky seabed. This type of wave is normally more suited to intermediate or advanced surfers as they often break quickly with more power than a beach break and in shallower water.

However, depending on the shape of the reef and how quickly the depth of the water changes from deep to shallow, they can produce waves of all shapes, sizes and power.

Generally, with most reef breaks, the wave will come from deep in the ocean onto a shallow reef quickly creating a wave that requires a rather fast and butt-clenching take off.

A good example of this is the famous wave Pipeline, in Hawaii – or many of the waves outside our Fuerteventura Surf Camp. Be careful when surfing reef breaks though, because if you fall off and hit the bottom, the coral is certainly more painful than sand!

Point Breaks


A point break is when a wave breaks onto and along a rocky point, creating a wave that travels in just one direction. Point breaks are often some of the most popular waves in the world as they provide some of the longest and user-friendly waves, some point breaks in Africa and South America can be surfed for over 3km!

This is perfect for refining your surfing, as they usually create long rides with open wave faces, perfect for practicing turns and riding down the line. A good example of a famous point break is Anchor Point, which can be found in Morocco, very close to our surf camp in Tamraght.

Point breaks are perfect for intermediates who have mastered the bottom turn and can ride on a waves face going sideways.

Surf Theory
Reading the Conditions

Onshore & Offshore Winds


This video gives an overview of:

⇒ The two main wind types

⇒ How to spot the differences 

⇒ How different winds affect the waves

The Fundamentals of Surfing

1 | Basic Surf Equipment


This video explains:

⇒ The basics of wetsuits

⇒ The basics of surfboards

⇒ The basics of board positioning

2 | Warmup – Shoulders, Back & Neck


This video explains:

Upper body warm ups and pre-surf stretching

3 | Paddling & Catching Waves


This video explains:

How to position correctly on the board 

⇒ How to paddle effectively 

⇒ How to positions correctly to catch a wave

4 | The Pop Up


This video explains:

When to pop up

⇒ How to pop up 

⇒ How to balance correctly in your surfer stance

5 | Body Positioning


This video explains:

How to achieve the perfect surfer stance for maximum trim & balance

6 | Surfing Green Waves


This video explains:

How to catch a green wave

⇒ How to change direction

⇒ How to speed up and slow down

7 | Cutbacks, Floaters & Aerials


Take your surfing to the next level! 

How to begin practicing more advanced movements like cutbacks, floaters & aerials

Surf Fitness & Nutrition

How fit do I need to be?


Surfing is an incredibly demanding sport for both body and mind. Not only are you pushing yourself physically, but you have to concentrate and focus on reading the ocean at all times to catch the best waves. That’s why being in the know about surf-specific fitness can make all the difference between getting out the back nice and easy, or getting a big set on your head and rag-dolling all the way back to shore. 

This guide is aimed towards beginner surfers, weekend warriors and those whose sessions are few and far between. If you’re planning a surf holiday or surf camp stay this summer, this guide gives you the tools to physically prepare for it. On a side note, while being able to swim is important, you don’t need to be a great swimmer to learn how to surf!

 

What muscles do we use when surfing?


It’s safe to say that you use most of the muscles in your body when you surf, some more than others and some in different ways. The main muscle group we use when paddling is those in the upper back. This provides us with the power needed to accelerate up to a similar speed of the wave itself. It is usually only a few strokes on each arm before popping up.

In other words, it is a strength and power move, which we can train to its fullest potential. Our shoulders are also used in the rotary motion of the move but generally only start to burn after a long paddle out, so endurance is the main factor for this set of muscles. The triceps get a good workout with duck diving and with the pop-up, as do the chest muscles. Again, the pop up is an explosive move so we can train our muscles to perform this more effectively. And finally, when we’re up and riding on the wave face, we use the core (in all planes) and legs for stabilisation and movement. 

 

How a 3x World Champion Stays Surf Fit


One of the hardest parts of exercise is simply knowing what to do, and how to do it, in order to achieve your goals. With countless online YouTube tutorials, different trainers giving varying advice, friends passing on their personal tips and tricks… it’s hard to know where to start, and what will give you the results you’re looking for.

That’s why 3x World Champion Mick Fanning has decided to help remove the guesswork and offer an insight into what he does, as a professional surfer, to keep his body healthy, fit and ready for the surf.

The following home routine is a go-to for Mick Fanning, and with his guidance, it can be a go-to for you now as well. It doesn’t take much to follow along –all you need is 20 minutes and a bit of spare floor space.

Yoga For Surfers

Yoga and surfing go hand in hand, with many professional surfers having incorporated a regular Yoga practise in their surf training routines. Kelly Slater, Greg Ling and Gerry Lopez are just a few famous names to mention here.

They do this because yoga is a full-body workout that helps you strengthen some of the main muscle groups you also use when surfing. For paddling, for example, you need your shoulder girdle, back, abdomen and your legs. Moreover, Yoga strengthens your intermuscular coordination. By “flowing” through different postures, your entire balance system is trained, thus helping you with smoother turns on your surfboard for example.

There are a variety of different ways in which Yoga can help your surfing, including;

⇒ Increasing Surf Flexibility

⇒ Improving Surf Balance

⇒ Helping you Focus

Practice Yoga regularly and we promise you, you will notice the huge improvement in the water when surfing. Below are a few Yoga sequences and their respective benefits for surfers, which we recommend doing them either before or after a surf. You can also check out the 13 Essential Yoga Poses for Surfers.

 

Yoga for surfers – Lesson 1


 

Yoga for surfers – Lesson 2


Surf Photography

We see surf photos everywhere, on the internet, in magazines and on advertisements. Some shots make us look twice with amazement, other shots might get you hyped to go surfing and some shots you might just glance straight over.

So what makes a great surf photo, a photo that captures the eye? Check out our interview with professional surf photographer Tim Borrow, who shares his top five tips for taking an awesome surf photo.

Another key factor will be your equipment. In the video on the right, Tim also shares his advice on the essential equipment needed to start taking those pro level shots!

If you already have your camera gear and are ready to go find some waves, check out our top 5 tips for travelling with camera gear.

Surf Etiquette
& Water Safety

Staying safe when surfing is extremely important to ensure you & everyone around you can have the maximum amount of fun in the safest environment possible. That’s why it’s highly important that you make sure you are familiar with everything mentioned on this page before hitting the water, it could just save your life!

Rip Currents


When waves break they push water towards the shoreline. Once that water reaches the shore, it has to find a way to get back out to sea, and it does this by following the path of least resistance, not against the waves but into deep water channels between the waves. Once the water is in these deeper areas, it can flow back out to sea away from the shoreline.

This is the rip and consists of three main parts: The ‘Feeder’ is where the water moves along the shoreline and into the deeper channel. Once it is in the deeper channel and starts flowing back out to sea. It is known as the ‘Neck’. When the water reaches the back of the line-up it disperses and the current stops, this point is known as the ‘Head’.

What to do if you’re in a rip?


The most important thing to do in a rip is to remain calm. If you have a bodyboard or surfboard do NOT let go! Hold on and raise your hand to gain attention. Alternatively, try and paddle parallel to the shoreline to the area where waves are breaking. The waves can then assist you in getting back to shore. If you are unsure where the rip is, always ask a fellow surfer or the lifeguard before entering the water. If swimming, always swim between the red and yellow flags.

Never put anyone at risk!


Don’t catch a wave if a person is in front of you (even though they are supposed to move, they might not).

⇒ Don’t throw your surfboard away to swim under waves, always keep hold of your board so you can control it and stop it hitting other surfers.

⇒ Make sure you understand surf etiquette and the line-up.

 

Always surf within your ability!


One of the most common reasons for people having accidents or getting into dangerous situations is because they are trying to surf in conditions beyond their ability. Be realistic when judging if you should paddle out. You might impress those on the beach when paddling into bigger waves, but they won’t be impressed when you’re struggling for help or unable to catch a wave.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Get a Skateboard!


Everyone who has ever tried to surf knows that it takes quite some hours in the water until you become a real shredder! But when the waves aren’t pumping or you can’t hit the water for a few weeks – those hard earned surf skills can get a little rusty!

Skating is a great way to stay fit and practice the movements of surfing. In addition to helping you stay active, skating also;

⇒ Helps with your board positioning

⇒ Helps with your balance

⇒ Allows you to practice your cutbacks and turns

Take a surf holiday!


The most obvious way to improve your surf fitness is through surfing – a lot! The best thing about surfing holidays is that you are often staying right on a surf spot, meaning you get to surf a few times each day. 

Other than surfing, surfing holiday destinations offer many different activities to help you to stay fit. Check out our Yoga & Surf Camp Deluxe in Moliets, France or our Activity Surf Camp near Santander, Spain for more information.

You always come back from a surfing holiday feeling fitter and healthier, which not only improves your surfing, but is also an incredible way to make new friends and explore the world!