Posted on September 16, 2019 by Jeff Hale
Boys and girls can pick up surfing in a weekend, which can be infuriating for an adult who's new to the sport. But there's another demographic with an unfair advantage when it comes to learning the art of wave riding: stand up paddle boarders.
Paddle boarders might not know it, but they’re the perfect candidates to become surfers. And I’m not just talking about SUP surfing -- a worthy endeavor in its own right -- I mean the traditional type of wave riding. So, if you're a stand up paddle boarder with any amount of experience, there are 4 good reasons you need to get yourself on a surfboard right away.
The biggest hurdle most beginner surfers face is an irrational fear of the ocean. Some people are creeped out by the fish, others are uncomfortable with the depth of the water, and most just don’t like mysterious darkness below.
Stand up paddle boarders have enough positive experience in the water to know there’s nothing to fear but fear itself. Even if you’ve only paddle boarded on clear lakes and rivers, there’s honestly not much of a transition when you move into the ocean. Potential dangers like rip currents aren’t a factor when you’re floating on a board and wearing a leash. For most surfers, the biggest challenge is finding parking at the beach.
Stand up paddle boarding is amazing cross-training for surfing. It works your mid-back muscles (latissimus Dorsi), shoulders (deltoids), arms (triceps, biceps, forearms), stomach (abdominal muscles), and your lower body (glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and feet). These are the major muscles you’ll need when surfing as well.
If you look at the average professional surfer, you’ll find that they don’t necessarily look like “professional athletes.” That’s not because they don’t treat their bodies like athletes, it’s because the muscles in the upper arms and back are doing most of the work when paddling. And if you’ve spent any time pushing yourself on a stand up paddle board, the muscles in your upper arms and back are probably in pretty great shape. So while the gym rats who only work their glamor muscles will sink like rocks on a surfboard, you’ll be gliding across the water like an expert in no time.
Yes, the most difficult part of surfing is catching the wave. But the reason it’s so difficult for most adults is the balancing act. Spend some time at any beginner surf beach and you’ll be entertained by the sea of people struggling to maintain balance on their boards. If you’re a paddle boarder, you won’t have to experience their struggle.
Stand up paddle boarding has prepared your muscles to maintain balance on a board when it’s not even moving in the water. And if you can do that, you’ll find that riding a surfboard on a moving wave is even easier. Getting into the proper surf stance is the only big change you’ll have to experience when transitioning from a stand up paddle board to a surfboard.
Most stand up paddle boarders own almost everything they need to learn the art of wave riding. You can use the same roof rack, leash, swimwear, sunscreen, and even a sun hat when surfing. All you need is a surfboard and some wax to start riding waves. Need a surfboard? Shop our selection of surfboards for sale! And if you still have doubts, you can always pick up a vintage copy of the original black and white book on surfing by Southern California’s Ron Drummond, The Art of Wave Riding.
Now there’s only one question you need to ask yourself if you’re a stand up paddle boarder: Why haven't you tried surfing yet?
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