Safe Surfing Lessons for Kids guide

Looking for Safe Surfing Lessons for Kids and Families on Australia's East Coast? below is a guide to what to look for when seeking a safe surfing Lesson for your kids, and one that also provides lessons for parents with important educational content

The SEA theory on "how to learn to surf safely" on Australia's east coast

Carefully selected venues

If you are wanting find a safe surf school for kids along Australia's east coast - It is important to find one that is situated at a protected southern corner. These pockets are predominantly away from intense surfing areas, large southerly swells, cold winds from the south and dangerous surf breaks. Any outward flowing currents or rips are usually a lot more predictable than those in the middle of the beaches. There should also be close access to swimming flags, lifeguards, lifesavers and Surf lifesaving club facilities, this ensures extra support if rescues are required. These selected venues should also be in populated areas to take advantage of the extra people in the water, particularly surfers in case assistance is required.

There should also be the availability of a flat water venue for many reasons.

  • To teach the basic skills, paddling and maneuvering
  • To check floatation in case a participant loses their board
  • Back up in case the surf is too large to hold a class and participants still wish to learn ocean skills

Surfing equipment

Most surf schools teach surfing lessons - by lining 10ft long boards on the beach, showing you how to jump to your feet on the sand, then taking you into the broken waves just meters off the shoreline

Surfing lessons for kids should be taught on smaller boards, particularly ones that are allowed to be used near or in the above locations. Large boards are impossible for kids to maneuver themselves, especially within the surf break. They are difficult to turn or pivot and once they get on to a wave are likely to nose dive because it is so hard to get large surfboards to tilt backward whilst gong down the wave. On the other hand - kids can paddle and turn smaller boards easier, and are obligated to learn the correct paddling technique for reasons of balance. Instructors can easily assist to push the kids onto waves and keep the boards from nose diving. They can also maintain safety standards with a smaller board within the surf break.

Boards should also have handles for added security. Kids should learn the skills to recover their boards if they lose them in a safe surfing area, however - leg ropes may help to add security when moving off the shoreline into the deeper water for the advanced parts of the surfing lessons.

Pre surfing lessons

The surfing lesson should be preceded by a surf education lesson, so kids understand the basic flows of the ocean around the shore line,which will also help advance their skills after the lesson. They should understand about rips and sand banks because these should come into play during the lesson. Learning paddling skills (positioning and posture) should be done in still water, and some form of floatation testing should be mandatory to make sure kids can float, and to help split the kids into groups as per their level of ability in the water. This will allow the kids to advance their skills at their own rate - rather than trying to keep up with advanced participants

Instruction should be hands on

Most surfing Instructors leave you in the white water so you can try to stand up - most do not work with the client - rather they go off free surfing, which can be very intimidating for those learning, non educational and a waste of money.

Surfing is not all about learning how to stand, it is about learning how to catch a breaking wave as it transforms from a swell to a wave. If you can master this - standing up is a mere formality. This is why the instructors should mostly be without a surf board, so they can easily assist the participant. With that said - there should always be one instructor with a surfboard board/floatation devise in case assistance is required. Instructors should also have very good swimming skills in the surf

Advancement to catching a wave from "out the back" of the surf break

It is important that the instructors are able to use the safe rips to get participants to the break without too much trouble, and then line them up in a position where they can maneuver their boards around with out getting hit by a wave while getting into position. Instructors should be able to assist at least two participants at a time, this is impossible if they are on a surfboard

The surfing skill comes from watching and understanding a wave as it breaks, so as you can position yourself in the perfect area to catch the wave, and then accelerate your paddling at the correct time to move down the face of the wave. Once you have mastered this you will have a split second to move your hands into the correct position to adjust your weight back - without falling off the wave (this is why small boards are so much easier).

From here you learn how to catch the wave as it breaks (the thrill of coming down the face of a wave is unforgettable). Through learning all the above skills - you have naturally progressed to a stage where you understand how to safely stand up at the crucial stage of "catching a breaking wave". Your hands are positioned correctly, your weight is distributed correctly and you then notice that due to the downward angle of the surf board, standing up and surfing will become a much easier prospect

Advancing skills by learning how to surf the wave across the face is the next step, finally - body surfing and surf negotiation without a surf board

With these skills plus extra skills leant including body surfing - you have developed the required confidence to allow you to continue learning to surf within your own comfort zone.

Buying your first surfboard

Surfing is an intimidating sport to learn; therefore it is best to buy a foam surfboard that you can ride near swimming areas and away from the surfing locals. Try to find one with handles so parents can assist, this can even be done with toddlers. Make sure your surfboard has a leg rope, even though it is better to learn without one in a "safe surfing area, the leg rope will provide added security so your not afraid to have a go and fall off

Happy Surfing - Craig Riddington

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