Can I learn to surf in a day?

This is one of the most common questions we hear from those looking to get into surfing, alongside ‘How long will it be before I can catch a wave?’ or ‘How long until I can stand up on the board?’. We understand the impatience; you just want to be out there already. At Surfing Croyde Bay when our clients are having surf lessons in Croyde and they ask how long will it take me to surf,  the answer, of course, depends on several factors. In this post, we look to answer some of your queries about how long it might take you to get to grips with basic surfing techniques, and how much progress you can expect to make in a day, a week or a few months.

How quickly can I learn to surf?

In short, the more you put in the practice, the quicker you will learn. Learning the basics, i.e. to stand up on a board and ride a wave, can take anywhere between two hours and one month of practice.

Firstly, you will need to become confident and comfortable lying and balancing on a surfboard. This generally takes between half an hour to up to three hours.

The next stage is learning to paddle for a wave and then catch it. Depending on your fitness level, this can take an additional hour or two. The last stage is the most difficult for most; this is mastering the ‘pop up’. It is likely that while practising the pop-up, you will fall off your surfboard – a lot. You can also expect to be pounded by the waves. Many beginners find this frustrating, but if you can stick with it sooner or later, it will become second nature. Mastering the pop up is like riding a bike, once you have it you have it for life.

In our experience, people who book weekend surf lessons tend to learn at a slower pace than surfers hitting the waves up to four times per week.

Factors which might affect how quickly you can learn to surf:

  1. How often you practice
  2. The quality of the waves you catch
  3. Your swimming skills
  4. Your understanding of the ocean and conditions
  5. Having the right equipment
  6. Endurance. There is a lot of paddling and balancing in surfing, and you will require a short burst of power to carry out some of the moves necessary. Spending longer than an hour in the water will truly test your endurance.
  7. Fitness, agility and flexibility. Surfing is a physically demanding sport, and the better shape you are in, the quicker you will be able to advance. You will need good flexibility in your knees and hips, and be able to shift your balance.
  8. Confidence. Surfing is not a sport for the faint-hearted. You will need the nerve to dive in and take risks. If you fear waves, surfing is not the sport for you.

Can I learn to surf in a day?

In theory, yes. Given the timeline above, many people can learn to surf in a day. It is impossible to predict precisely how long it might take for you to ride a wave, but with the right equipment, guidance and attitude, between five and twenty hours should see you on a wave. This, of course, depends on your persistence, natural aptitude for water sports and physical capabilities. Age is not important, and a fit and healthy 50-year-old could learn much faster than a 16-year-old who is out of shape.

How can I learn to surf as quickly as possible?

Quite simply, the more waves you catch, the faster you will improve. You can also learn from other surfers around you, watching their techniques. Get out there, take some lessons and practice as much as you can and you’ll progress, trust us!