Surf Hints: How to Catch More Waves

The Secret To Catching More Waves

One of the most essential skills for surfers is the ability to catch waves. The art of catching waves is what sets a beginner surfer apart from an experienced one and can make the difference between just paddling around on a board and actually riding the waves. Learning how to catch waves is a gradual process that requires practice and patience, but with the right guidance and training, anyone can master this skill.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or an intermediate surfer looking to improve, understanding the basics of how to catch more waves will take your surfing experience to the next level.

We all want to improve our surfing quickly, and the more waves we catch, the faster our learning process becomes. Catching waves can be one of the more frustrating skills to develop when learning to surf. Here, we lay out some helpful tips on how to catch more waves while surfing.

Surfer catching a wave, getting ready to pop up

Proper Positioning

Typically when you watch a group of surfers from the beach, you’ll notice the same three or four surfers taking wave after wave, even when there’s a crowd. They achieve this by reading incoming waves and setting themselves up in the most effective position to drop in. Positioning is the key to catching more waves.

Keep Your Distance

One effective tactic to improve positioning for an incoming wave is to distance yourself from other surfers. Allowing space between you and the nearest head in the water will optimize your ability to position yourself better, so you may assert your priority on the incoming wave. Leaving little space between yourself and other surfers in the water could lead to confusion, collisions, and more frequently missed opportunities. Leave enough room to capitalize on every missed opportunity from nearby surfers!

Stay In Motion

Another important hint (that often gets overlooked) is to get and remain on the move. If you want to know how to catch more waves, this may be the hint that makes the biggest difference.

If you watch advanced surfers (and pros), you’ll notice that they rarely stay in one spot. They constantly look for the next wave, and they paddle with a destination in mind.

Passive surfers rarely get the good waves, because the waves do not seek you out. You have to seek the waves out, so keep paddling. You’ve already spent some time before you got in the water picking your spot. If you paid close attention, you might have noticed some other places that held some promise. 

Even if you didn’t, pick a spot and move to it. If it doesn’t pan out, pick another and make your way to it. Keep moving, and you’ll have a much better shot at finding more waves.

Stay In Shape

Speaking of paddling, that takes some upper body strength, as well as endurance. After all, you can’t be running out of steam after 20 minutes on the water. So an off-the-water hint that goes a long way is to get in better physical shape. 

You want to pay attention to these areas, each of which is important for surfing:

Upper-body strength: Paddling for the wave means using your arms, so you want them strong and sinewy. Spend time off the water doing push-ups and pull-ups.

Leg strength: Leg strength will help you stay on the board longer, and once you’ve improved on how to catch more waves surfing, you’ll want to remain upright on all of them. Do some lunges at least three days a week.

Core strength: A strong core is key to maintaining balance, so do some planks.

Cardiovascular endurance: No matter how strong you are, if you skip the cardio training, you’re going to poop out sooner rather than later. Go swimming, go jogging, ride your bike, do some burpees.

All of these areas will help you catch more waves. If nothing else, you’ll be able to paddle after waves harder, faster, and longer than if you haven’t done any training.

Find the Right Spots

Something else to keep in mind is where you might catch more waves. You can go two ways with this idea: either go where there are fewer surfers or find surfers less experienced than you.

If you were after the once-in-a-lifetime wave, you wouldn’t be reading these words about how to catch more waves. You’re reading this because you want to catch more waves. So go to a less-populated spot. That spot will be less populated because the waves aren’t great, but if you’re after more waves, quantity takes precedence over quality.

The other alternative is to go where you’re the pro. If you’re a better surfer than most others on the water that day at that break, you’ll be the one who picks up the lion’s share of waves. It won’t be because you’re a surf bully. It will be because you’ll be better at reading waves than those less experienced surfers around you, and you’ll know how to catch more waves surfing than they will.

Analyze Wave Breaks

Gaining familiarity with an area you’re planning to surf is a must. Developing an understanding of where waves break and do not break takes time, but it rewards you with the knowledge of where to position yourself. When you want to surf a new location, put some effort into researching the break. Most importantly, watch the waves for a good 10-20 minutes to pick out your spot in the lineup before you paddle out. The more you learn about the breaks you are surfing, the easier it becomes to catch more waves.

Practice Safe Surfing Etiquette

Finally, know your surf etiquette before you dip even a toe into the ocean. You need to be aware— at least— of whose turn it is and where you need to be when it’s your turn. If it’s your turn and you don’t know it, you’ve missed out on a wave.

If you try to drop in on someone else’s wave, you might get invited to leave the water, and you can’t catch any waves then.

Ready to Catch More Waves?

Don’t feel discouraged on the days that feel like you’ve wasted an hour paddling with nothing to show. It happens to a vast majority of us who surf. All this means is you need to re-evaluate your positioning by checking over the elaborated tips. Become one of the surfers in the lineup, catching every wave you want!

Pacific Surf School provides surfing instruction at some of the most picturesque surfing sites along the Pacific coast, including San Diego, Pacific Beach, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, La Jolla, Manhattan Beach, Mission Beach, and Huntington Beach. With a variety of possibilities, you’re certain to discover the ideal spot for your surfing requirements. 

With our knowledgeable teachers and customized training, we can assist you in achieving your surfing objectives. We offer a range of surf instruction choices, including private, semi-private, and group sessions! In addition, we provide surf camps that give the ideal chance to immerse oneself in the sport and get individualized tuition from seasoned surf trainers.

If you would like some help from the pros to catch some waves, sign up for surf lessons at our school Pacific Surf School. Get in touch with us today to get started!

Surf instructor teaching student how to catch more waves


The best position to catch a wave depends on various factors such as the size and direction of the wave, the speed and direction of the wind, and your own physical ability and surf style. However, there are a few general tips that can help you get into the best position to catch a wave.

  1. Paddle in the right direction: Make sure you’re facing the right direction and paddling toward the incoming wave.

  2. Timing is key: Pay attention to the timing of the waves and start paddling as soon as you see one that you want to catch.

  3. Get in the right position: As you paddle, position yourself so that the nose of your board is pointing slightly toward the beach and the tail is pointed toward the ocean.

  4. Stand up quickly: Once you feel the wave pushing you forward, quickly pop up to your feet and assume a stable stance on the board.

It is important to remember that the best position is unique to each person, so it’s important to experiment and find what works best for you.

Depending on the water conditions and the skill level of each rider, the number of waves a person will catch will greatly vary. Some riders are able to catch 10 or more waves in a session while some catch none.

It’s important to keep in mind that the goal of surfing is not necessarily to catch as many waves as possible, but to have fun, improve your skills, and enjoy the experience. Surfing is a sport that requires patience, perseverance, and a love of being in the water, and even if you don’t catch many waves, you can still have a great time.

So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch many waves at first – focus on improving your skills and having fun, and the waves will come.

Catching bigger waves can be more challenging than catching smaller ones, but it can also be more rewarding. Bigger waves generally move faster and have more energy, which can make them more difficult to catch and control.

However, if you’re an experienced surfer with good technique and physical conditioning, catching bigger waves can be a thrilling experience that allows you to surf faster, perform more advanced maneuvers, and challenge yourself in new ways.

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