10 Tips for Intermediate Surfers

Intermediate surfers often find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place, in terms of what to ride and where to surf. An intermediate surfer is a surfer who has mastered the basics of paddling, popping up, and riding cleanly across the open face of a wave. Often after moving on from beginner boards and waves, intermediate surfers feel they are ready for advanced surf, and that’s not always the case. At our Nicaragua surf resort, our talented guides will take you to waves that are ideal for your skill level, whether that be beginner, intermediate, or advanced. For those surfers who aren’t quite beginners, but aren’t yet ready to take on advanced waves, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you progress towards your surfing goals. Continue reading below to learn 10 Tips for Intermediate Surfers.

Choose the right board for your skill level

New surfers are often eager to ditch their longboard or soft top in favor of a shorter board as soon as the master the pop up. Surfing a board that is too short for your skill level can be detrimental to the learning process. While shortboards may seem to be faster and more maneuverable than longboards, they also have significantly less volume, which makes them less buyout and harder to paddle. After spending sufficient time riding a longboard, new surfers should transition to a mid-length rather than a shortboard. At our Nicaragua surf resort, our surf coaches will ensure you’re riding the right board for your skill level.A surfer paddling on his board in the ocean.

Paddle Efficiently

It can be easy to waste energy while you paddle. Even some experienced surfers fall back on bad habits once fatigue sets in. While you paddle, keep in mind that each stroke should begin far in front of you, extend deep underwater, and then come out of the water when your arm is perpendicular to your body and the board. Many surfers pull their strokes far past perpendicular, which shifts their momentum from forward to downward.

Duck Dive Properly

If you’re no longer riding a longboard, turtling is a thing of the past. Now, when you paddle out, you’ll have to duck dive to get past oncoming surf. A proper duck dive begins when the wave is 6 feet away. First, grab the board on the rails under your chest, and extend your arms to press the board underwater. Next, place a foot on the traction pad or tail of the board, and press the board underwater with your foot. While pressing the board underwater with both arms and one foot, your body should resemble an upside-down “V.” Then, pull yourself underwater towards the board until your chest is flush against the board. You should surface nose first, on the other side of the wave.

Take off at the Peak of the wave

The peak is the highest point of an oncoming swell, where the wave first begins to break. The peak is also the steepest part of the wave, which means taking off at the peak of the wave will allow you to generate the most speed to continue your ride down the line. At reef breaks, like Popoyo near our Nicaragua surf resort, each wave peaks at relatively the same place, which is why Popoyo is a great wave for intermediate surfers to progress.

Look Down the Line

Many surfers struggle with riding backside. Specifically, new surfers have a hard time maintaining their position on the open face of the wave, and often find that they are surfing in the flats. A simple way to help you stay on the wave, for both backside and frontside rides, is to look the direction you want to go. In surfing, where you look your body and board will follow. At our Nicaragua surf resort, our skilled surf coaches will be in the water with you to ensure you’re picking up habits that will improve your surfing, like looking down the line, not towards the beach.

Stay Low

If you watch a skilled surfer, you’ll notice everything they do from the moment they pop up, is done with bent knees. In surfing, a low center of gravity is crucial to maintaining speed and performing maneuvers. So, keep your knees bent as you ride.

Lead your turns

As we mentioned above, where your head goes, your body and board follow. This also applies to turns. So, when you’re attempting to cut back, swing your arms the direction you aim to turn, look back over your shoulder, then turn your shoulders,  and, finally, rotate your hips. Popoyo, near our Nicaragua surf resort, is the ideal wave for intermediate surfers to practice their cutbacks.

Pump with your entire body

The concept of pumping can be a bit confusing to surfers who have only ever ridden longboards. A lot of surfers try to pump by just shifting their weight on and off of their front foot, which doesn’t work well. To pump effectively, you need to utilize your entire body. As you bottom turn and try to rise up the wave’s face, extend your body and throw your arms in the direction you want to go. This will pull you up the waves face. To descend, compress your body and point your board angled downward with your weight over your front foot.

Don’t surf too far in front of the waveA man riding a wave

As we mentioned above, new surfers often find themselves riding in the flats in front of the wave, which causes them to lose momentum. When you pop up and turn down the line, make a continuous effort to stay on the open face of the wave.

Adjust your feet as your ride

Another way to generate speed or change your momentum while surfing, is to shift your feet on the board. When you’re cruising down the line trying to gain speed, you’re able to stand closer to the middle of your board, but if you’re going to cut back, you need to shift your back foot over your fins towards the tail of your board.

Surfers, no matter their skill level, are always learning and improving. At our Nicaragua surf resort, Malibu Popoyo, we pride ourselves on the quality instruction provided by our surf coaches and guides. After your visit, you’re sure to see a noticeable improvement in your surfing.


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