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Blogs: Practical guide to sharing a surf life with your kids

Hanalei Surf School




Tips on Teaching Kids and Passing Down Your Passionate Pastime

Surfersvillage Global Surf News,  22 August, 2017 - For some, surfing is a lifelong pastime they want to pass on.  Their kids are curious and want to share hobbies with their parents.  However, the sport deserves respect and kids need to learn how to surf before the passion takes hold.  They need to know things like the right way to paddle, the etiquette of catching waves, and how to care for their gear and boards. Here are some practical things to consider while sharing waves and a lifelong hobby with your kid.


Young riders need to pay attention to their surroundings.  They don’t want to paddle into a wave that’s already occupied by another rider.  It’s a good idea to take lessons before paddling out alone.  A teacher can show a rider how to sit, rest, and paddle on the board as well as instill a bit of encouragement as kids try for their first waves.  Young and inexperienced riders may be more successful on a foam board which limits board damage along with bodily injury.  Though a novice rider may want a shorter board, they should consider riding a medium or longer sized one that provides more stability and increased float.


Surfing requires athletic ability as well as patience and focus.  A young rider will feel reluctant and intimidated by larger waves and heavier conditions.  Encourage them to be aggressive while minding their limited experience.  It’s healthier for young riders to focus on how well they’re learning versus friends and family members.  Each surfer progresses at their own pace.


Surf school teaches the fundamentals and makes a young rider aware and confident enough to really progress.  The right teacher can be receptive to immediate concerns while being encouraging and supportive.  Contact with a surf school could involve a few lessons or week-long instruction.  Choose a school with a tradition of working with beginners and newcomers.  At places like Hanalei Surf School, students can learn how to surf, ride a SUP, and more.


Depending on the season and location, additional gear is required.  Wetsuits, bags, and surfboards require maintenance.  Invest in a board bag so kids can carry and store one or more boards.  It lessens the likelihood that boards will get dinged or need repair.  Wetsuits need to be rinsed and hung to dry.  The same goes for gloves, boots, and hoods.


It’s common for a beginner to get stoked on the idea of becoming a lifelong surfer.  However, it takes unsavory conditions, flat periods, and less-than-exemplary sessions to become a surfer.  Remind young riders that it takes commitment and it may be years before they can learn to ride really well.  Since surfboards are not cheap, have the young surfer commit to getting a job to pay for their first board.  That way, they’ll be more likely to get take care of it in and out of the water.


Surfing teaches humility whether a rider is a willing learner or not.  A young rider will have good days and bad while learning to get better.  Those who are willing to deal with and see past disappointment do well.  Remind your kid that every surfer needs to be patient and faces disappointment.  It’s okay to take a tumble and get out of the water for a break; it’s not okay to let a session end early without taking a chance of turning it around.


Those who enjoy the pastime of surfing, understand the sport is part of a lifestyle.  Kids must begin to learn how to surf as well as know its origin and modern culture.  Surfing elders teach that knowing how to surf is not more important than understanding why one surfs and contributes to the surf community.  Brands like Volcom, Vans, and Billabong produce clothing, host events, and sponsor surfers.


Unfortunately, waves are not always in the forecast.  However, a young surfer can practice out of the water with a balance trainer.  Adopting a similar sport, such as skateboarding, helps with surfing.  Other pastimes like yoga, pilates, and snowboarding, also complement surfing.  It’s important to stay healthy and practice in various forms throughout the year.


Share what you love about surfing with your child while letting them approach the sport on their own terms.  In turn, encourage them to help others who are just learning how to surf.  Also, teach them to a be a positive personality, one who makes new friends as they learn a lifelong hobby.  Do something creative to remember your sessions together; keep a photo journal or create a website devoted to surfing with your kid.

Lily Turner grew up by the ocean and has been a keen surfer from a young age. Now with kids of her own Lily is teaching them how to surf, and shares tips for teaching kids, as well as adults, on how to master the board.

Lily Turner

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