Looking to teach your kids how to surf? We’ve put together our top tips for kids learning how to surf. Getting started may seem challenging, but with some patience and tricks to make it fun, you can help to develop a lifelong love of surfing in your mini groms. I’ve taught my two boys how to surf, and here’s some of my best advice, as well as some tips from other surf mamas in our Coco-mmunity!
Don't force it
My husband and I are both lifelong surfers and legit frothers (translation: can't get enough of surfing) but our kids were very anti surfing until they were about 9 and 11. It drove us crazy! Trying to get them to go surfing was turning into an argument, so we had to learn to let it go. We continued giving them the option to come surf with us, and had to be ok with their saying no over and over and over. But one day, fiiiiiinally, it clicked. Now they're proper frothers themselves.
Teach them Confidence in the Water
Make sure your kids are comfortable in the water and can confidently tread water if you get separated or they lose their board. Anything can happen in the ocean, and as small as the beginner waves can be, ensuring your grom is a strong swimmer is essential. It also helps to play with them into the shorebreak so they are familiar with breaking waves. Make it fun to take a tumble together (safely of course)!
Opt for swim fins instead of your own board
When my kids were first getting started, I found it a lot easier to swim alongside them to push them in rather than paddle next to them. So in their very early stages, I would use swim fins instead of my own board. After they caught a wave and were paddling back out, I'd hold on to the back of their board and kick while they paddled to speed up the process.
Once they got a little better and could almost catch their own waves, then I went back to riding my own board.
Tip: when pushing them into waves, it's pretty easy to get caught up in their leash. So instead of pushing from the tail of the board, try to push them on the side of their rail to avoid the leash. This also means you won't accidentally hit their fins if your hand slips off awkwardly.
Don't be shy about cheering them on
When I surf by myself, I am very quiet and mostly keep to myself. But when I'm in the water with my kids, I'm in full soccer mom mode - cheering for their waves, putting my hands in the air, the whole deal. The kids catch on to that vibe and end up having more fun in the process. Making surfing extra fun is really what will get them hooked.
This is the most basic tip but the most important. It can take a while for kids to progress through each step - paddling out on their own, catching their own waves, duck diving, etc. Stay positive and don't try to rush them to progress. We each learn at our own pace and some steps will take longer than others to learn.
Know when to let off
Sometimes they don't want to hear your tips and coaching. They just want to figure it out for themselves and you just have to let them, even if it means they're going to take a set on the head or poke tako (nose dive/pearl) on the take off. Be sure to teach them proper surf etiquette, but consider letting them figure the rest out in their own way.
Be aware that kids get cold fast!
Depending on where you are, even if the water is warm, the wind and water can make the kids cold. Consider having them surf in a wetsuit so they are more comfortable and can stay in the water longer. Even in Hawaiʻi, my mini groms often surf in Spring suits to help keep them warm.
Think about hiring a surf instructor
Putting your kid in classes can be a great way to get them used to listening, and let’s face it, they might take advice from their instructor better than mom or dad! Even signing them up for swim classes at a young age to ensure they’re comfortable with the water, and gymnastics to help for balance can be great, too!
Maintain realistic expectations and have fun!
Sometimes letting your kids lead the way in the water and set the tone can be best for everyone! Some days they may only be out there for half an hour, while other days they might want to stay out all day. But either way they had fun, listened to themselves when it was time to call it, and made it out on the water to practice!
We hope these tips and tricks will help you as you begin to introduce your littles to the amazing sport that is surfing! Always remember to trust your instincts and encourage your kids to trust theirs when out on the water.