Yay, you’ve made it. You’ve persisted and you are past the whitewash. Congrats Gidgets. But now that you are catching green waves you all of a sudden facing new challenges. In our mini blog series of surfing tips for Green Wave Gidgets, we address some of the most common challenges we hear:
- Can’t go left/can’t go right… why can I only go one way?
- I’m always getting up on my knee first, help!
- Don’t catch enough waves/Can’t get quite onto it/ Keep on nose-diving.
Last couple of times we talked about how to go the other way and I’m always getting up on my knee first. This time it’s all about ‘wave catching’ issues. There is actually way too much to fit it all in one blog post so we deal with one of the most common problems first: Why do I keep on nose diving while surfing?
You paddle for a wave. The nose of your board catches water, the tail of your board somehow becomes airborne and before you know it you are sent flying off. A classic nose-dive. Every surfer knows that feeling. It just happens now and then. If it keeps on happening though, it really can do your confidence in and at worst case makes you fearful of catching waves. So why do I nose-dive and what can I do to fix it?
Too much weight on the front of the board
You may have to much weight on the front of the board which makes the nose of the board go under instead of on top of the wave. Next time you paddle for a wave, try to lift your upper body a bit more when paddling for a wave. Practice by catching a green wave and just lifting your upper body (like a reverse push-up) without standing up. As soon as you feel the nose of the board catching water, lift up even more and you’ll see how the nose miraculously will come out of the water.
I know this might be a bit boring now and feel like you are taking a step back because you’ve been standing up already heaps in the whitewash but sometimes it helps to focus on catching waves just in the prone position (that’s what we call that reverse push up), so you get a feel for the weight distribution and that drop without the nose going under.
You are too far forward
Sometimes you might be actually lying too far forward on your board and no amount of lifting your upper body will help. It’s an easy fix though. Have a look first on land what your board looks like when it lays flat in the sand. My guess is most of the board will be touching the sand and the nose will lift up a bit and so will the tail (the back of the board). That’s the way the board is meant to be in the water with you lying on top of it as well. So if the nose of your board pokes high up in the air when you are on your board in the water, you are too far back (you are unlikely to nose dive then but chances are you’ll struggle catching waves) and if the nose is too far down you are too far forward which will make you …you guessed it…nose dive. So before you start paddling for a wave, check your position on the board and wriggle yourself back a bit on the board if you find yourself too far forward.
You don’t have enough speed
Did you know that you need to be the same speed as the wave for the wave to take you with you? (That’s why it’s easier to catch waves, when someone pushes you on ;-)). So sometimes you might not be paddling hard enough and the wave is overtaking you and toppling you over i.e. make you nose dive. So make sure you paddle with powerful strokes into the wave. Emphasis on powerful and controlled strokes rather than faster. It’s a bit like swimming…frantic, fast uncontrolled strokes won’t make you go faster but the controlled, powerful strokes with the right technique will (I guess there is another blog post with paddling technique coming up :-)). Also, if you see a wave coming, start paddling a bit earlier than you think you should. Especially, in the beginning when your paddle muscles are not that developed yet, it will get a bit of a headstart and help you get some speed up before the wave catches up with you.
It’s the wave. Not you.
The wave is just shutting down and it’s really hard (even for a super good surfer) to make that take off. Have a look around you. Do you see more experienced surfers who paddle for waves and then keep pulling back (ie. they lift there are upper body and pull the board out of the wave last minute). If you see that a lot, it’s likely that the conditions are just not great on this day.
Or it might just be that the section of the wave you’ve picked is not a great take-off spot. Try not to take off on the steepest part of the wave. Have a look around you at other surfers, where are they taking off? You might find it easier to take off closer to a rip where the take off is not as steep.
The right take off spot and the right wave choice comes with experience. So you just need to practice a lot and as I always say – keep observing what else is going on in the line-up even on a day you might not catch many waves but you always learn something by watching.
So practice, practice, practice Gidgets and if you nose-dive a lot, watch out for these pointers. If you do feel stuck and keep on nose-diving, it might be a good time to check in with your surf coach. Sometimes it’s one little thing that makes all the difference.
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