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North Shore Oahu Surf School
North Shore Oahu Surf School

What Are the Most Common Mistakes Beginners Make While Surfing?


Learning to surf is an exciting adventure, and the North Shore Oahu Surf School, led by pro surfer Kala Grace, is here to make your first experience as smooth as possible. But let's face it—beginners often make some common mistakes. Here’s a rundown of the most frequent slip-ups and how you can avoid them to ride the waves like a pro.


First off, paddling might seem straightforward, but it's easy to get wrong. Many beginners use their arms inefficiently, either moving too slow or flopping around too much. The trick? Keep your strokes smooth and steady. Imagine you're slicing through butter with each paddle.


Next, there's the issue of positioning on the board. Too far forward, and you’ll nosedive; too far back, and you won’t catch the wave. The sweet spot is usually around the center of the board. A simple tip—if water is constantly washing over the nose of your board, slide back a bit.


Timing is another critical factor. Beginners often stand up too late or too early. The wave will pass you by if you’re too late, and you’ll wipe out if you’re too early. Find your balance by practicing popping up on dry land until it becomes second nature.


When it comes to stance, many first-timers forget to bend their knees, leading to wobbly rides. Always keep a low center of gravity by bending your knees—think of it as a mini squat. This will give you more stability and control over your board.


Another rookie mistake is looking down instead of where you want to go. Your body naturally follows your eyes, so if you’re staring at your feet, that’s where you’ll end up. Instead, focus on the direction you want to travel.


Lastly, don't underestimate the importance of wave selection. Not every wave is rideable, and beginners often go for anything that comes their way. Look for waves that are consistently breaking in the same spot, offering a more predictable ride.


  • Smooth and steady paddling is key.

  • Proper positioning on the board is crucial.

  • Perfect your timing when standing up.

  • Maintain a low stance by bending your knees.

  • Look ahead, not down.

  • Choose the right waves.


In conclusion, surfing is a blend of skill, timing, and a bit of instinct. Avoid these common mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering the waves. If you're ready to take your surfing to the next level, contact Kala Grace at the North Shore Oahu Surf School for personalized private North Shore surf lessons. They’ll help you refine your skills and get the most out of every session on the water.

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