Barreled Surfing – How To Get Barreled!

Barreled Surfing - Tips & Tricks

Barreling, also known as tubing or getting pitted, is when a surfer rides inside a hollowed-out wave face. Barrelling is one of the most challenging and exciting surf moves – and mastering it can bring you infinite satisfaction.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the secrets behind successful barreled surfing and share some essential tips on achieving balance to stay in the perfect position for long tube rides. Let’s get started!

The First Steps of Learning to Barrel

Learning to barrel a wave as a surfer is an adrenaline-pumping experience that opens the door to a different level of surfing.

Surfer getting barreled on a big wave

Understand the Ocean

To perfect this maneuver, you’ll first want to build your knowledge of ocean conditions and the direction of the swell. That will ensure you recognize waves capable of generating tubes to surf in. 

Understanding the way of the waves may take some time, so don’t feel like you have to rush this stage. In fact, you can study the waves both on land and in water. You will start to notice the differences in each wave structure and where you should be when barreling in the ocean wave.

Choose the Right Board for You

Choosing the right surfboard is an essential decision when trying to barrel. Different types of boards flourish in specific conditions, so pick a suitable one that matches your size and skill level. Generally, wider boards provide more stability, and longer ones are ideal if you want to travel further during each wave.

It’s also important to consider the thickness of the board and its rocker. Thickness allows surfers to stay on top of waves better, while the rocker delivers tighter turns into the barrel.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

You must be aware of changing ocean hazards to stay in control while barrelling. This way, you’ll have much more time and space to adjust your approach while maximizing your chances of a successful maneuver.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice turns and cutbacks, as these will help you gain the speed needed to stay ahead of the lip of a breaking wave. Understanding how to paddle hard and handle white water power can help close out sections pushing you into barrels more confidently. With enough practice, you will barrel on your board confidently and keep perfecting your craft.

Tips on Learning How To Get Barreled

Getting a handle on barreled surfing opens the door to incredible experiences. After all, what better feeling than being among the waves, enveloped in a moment of sheer power and energy? Here are some of our most helpful tips to get you started.

Surfer riding through a barrel wave on his stomach

Know the Right Spots

Transparent reef breaks or hollow beach breaks are usually the best bets for learning how to get barreled. Taking on smaller waves is also key. Otherwise, hitting the lip too soon or hard can cause the wave to break prematurely.

Be Familiar With the Basics

Knowing basic surfing techniques, such as paddling techniques and wave reading, is essential. By getting a handle on waves, surfing techniques, and board maneuvering, you’ll enjoy your time in the water safely and with confidence.

Start slow and build on basic movements while paying attention to safety tips for better protection. Above all, remember that learning how to barrel is a process and takes time. You’ll have your fair share of wipeouts, but the result will be worthwhile. 

Learn From Others

Learning from experienced surfers who have mastered getting barreled will help you reach your goal faster. Even those who seem to take quickly to the board can still benefit from the advice and guidance of someone who’s been there before.

You can use their know-how to improve your skills faster than if you were to figure it all out on your own. They know which type of board is ideal, what kind of waves are best for beginners, and what techniques will boost performance.

Knowledgeable buddies will give you the tools to ensure trying barreled surfing doesn’t become a source of frustration. With mentors like these in your corner, scary wipe-outs become fun stories rather than traumatic incidents. 

Be Safe

Surfing is an exhilarating activity full of experiences to last a lifetime! But there are risks that you need to prepare for. Safety should always be the number one priority when it comes to surfing. Unexpected events can easily arise, even in ideal conditions. So, read up on all the correct safety protocols to ensure you have an enjoyable experience overall.

Of course, the number one concern is water and weather conditions. These can change quickly, so ride back to shore if you feel unsure. As a precaution, never surf alone. Buddying up with a friend or a surf school class can help you stay safe in uncertain situations. 

In addition, you’ll want to:

  • Maintain your board through regular waxing and repair
  • Have knowledge of currents, swell direction, and rip tides
  • Wear a life jacket if necessary
  • Warm up before entering the water

Ready to Get Barreled?

Barreled surfing is an incredibly thrilling experience. Being engulfed in a breaking wave creates a feeling like no other. But getting barreled isn’t as simple as paddling into the wave and requires skill and patience. You’ll need to stay on your surfboard, control your speed, find the barrel wave, and utilize the power of the wave to propel yourself forward.

Want to learn how to successfully master this incredible trick? Be sure to book your next lesson with Pacific Surf School! We offer a variety of lessons for beginners and intermediate riders alike with our private, semi-private, and group surf lessons. We look forward to seeing you on the beach!

Surf instructor teaching a group of surf students


Read on to learn the most frequently asked questions about barreled surfing.

Getting barreled while surfing is not easy and requires a lot of skill, experience, and practice. You need to be comfortable with your board in order to have proper balance, speed, and maneuverability. Learning how to read the waves is crucial for this purpose – understanding how the swell builds up helps you identify the best spots for getting barreled. A deep understanding of ocean swell and currents is also important for this, since it can help you predict the direction and size of waves. Additionally, having the right board setup is key in order to gain speed on the wave and maximize your chances at getting barreled.

Gerry Lopez, a Hawaiian surfer, is largely regarded as the first to be barreled. In the early 1970s, while surfing at Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline, Lopez pioneered a method of riding inside the barrel or “tube” of an approaching wave as it broke over him. The trick rapidly became known as “tubing,” and it was quickly adopted by other Pipeline surfers. Lopez is still regarded as a pioneering tube rider and one of the most important personalities in surfing history.

Using proper technique is the greatest method to get out of a barrel wave. When approaching the wave, tilt your board down to enter the wave with the least resistance. Maintain your weight on the rear foot and use forceful strokes to paddle into the wave. As the wave approaches, make sure to sink in with your leading arm and shoulder first to keep control. As the wave coils up, begin leaning back and keeping your weight concentrated over the centre of the board. This will assist you in maintaining your balance when the wave passes beneath you. When you’re out of the barrel, lean toward your front foot and utilize rapid strokes to remain on the wave and keep riding. If you are trapped in a barrel wave, lean back and keep your board pointed downwards to prevent stalling out. With practice, you’ll be able to master the skill of easily exiting a barrel wave!

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