If you’ve been through surf school basic training, bought your board and are keen to spend every spare moment surfing, you’re probably wondering just how long it will take to build levels of skill and learn all the expert techniques needed for pro wave riding.

Take time to read on, and then start planning out your next beach and surf adventures accordingly!

Firstly, let’s kick off by saying that the amount of time it will take to develop the highest surf skills will ultimately depend on you. There are lots of ways you can build confidence and increase knowledge of techniques and tricks, but you’ll need to devote a good deal of time to your new sport.

When you start surfing you typically use longer, wider boards, because these are easier and help you develop confidence and skill. If you can spare the time to surf three to four times weekly, you should find you’ve developed good skills in about two years. What that means is that you’ll probably become a good judge of surf and tides, will be able to catch all the waves you aim for, and won’t have any problems paddling a long way out.

As you start investing in smaller, narrow surfboards you will begin to develop the aggressive techniques you see in experts. You’ll also discover manoeuvres and tricks along this route; particularly if you hang out with regular surfers a lot. That said, it’s unlikely you’ll be ready for pro surf competitions at this stage, but you might want to consider the benefits of hooking up with a pro coach or mentor!

Tips for developing surfing expertise and pro skills

You’re probably still questioning just how you’re going to get from your newbie point A to this point B expert? These tips could be the solution you seek or could point towards the best way forward to suit your current lifestyle:

  • If you’ve already mastered the art of pop up/drop down in surf school then you’re already on the way towards surfing expertise. The more practice you get hereon, the more this technique will be drilled deep into your muscle memories. That way, it becomes second nature. Some people say surfing is like learning to ride a bike, once mastered, never forgotten!
  • Building your water fitness by lots of paddle practice is the best way to learn more about tides and local conditions, now. Any surf beach has different tidal conditions, so the more learning you can gain about deep water and reef conditions at this stage, the more likelihood of success at different surf locations. It’s not just about knowing how to ride waves, you’ve also got to figure out how to get deep into those waves, rather than just riding the wash. You can expect this level of expertise to develop after a couple of months of casual weekend surfing, followed by at least three weeks of solid everyday surfing. Alternatively, expect to reach this level after a couple of years of weekend, casual surfing at different beaches.
  • You may well be congratulating yourself on the skills you’ve acquired, but in honesty, there’s still loads more to learn, at this point. You’ve now moved up from newbie to intermediate surfing level, but getting to the good/expert level is going to require even more training and practice.
  • You will discover that once you’ve achieved the above level of expertise, you can start experimenting with boards! That’s great fun for any keen surfer. And, as you move down in board length and width, you’ll discover your technique and can start doing all those tricks you’re seeing the pro surfers do. You should now be able to move to the left and right on all kinds of waves, and will have the confidence to cope with any kind of weather or tidal conditions. Where you probably fall down now, is in the “style stakes”. And, in honesty that’s down to practice and honing your personal stance hereon.
  • Most keen surfers don’t have the ability (or guts!) to up the stakes and head off to more challenging¬† beaches to hone their skills. But, if you were to do this, you could probably move up to expert/pro surf levels within six months or so. As already mentioned, this is the point when you might want to think about hooking up with a coach or mentor to enable you to compete or showcase your newfound expertise globally!


Good luck, and work out your own solution for becoming your most brilliant surf self hereon. It’s all down to you!