Learn to Surf Age - How Old Is Too Old to Learn Surfing?


There is no argument that surfing is a rigorous sport, that requires a level of fitness a little higher than the average couch potato, but there are many factors to consider if you are looking at learning to surf at an age beyond your youth. If you are an active person with a clean bill of health then the only thing stopping you is YOU. You don't have to be Kelly Slater to begin to learn to surf, but leaning more toward Kelly than Couch Potato will certainly help. Fitness is an essential part of maintaining a good relationship with your surfing passion, but as you learn and practice, your fitness will also improve. Other factors to consider when deciding whether or not to give it a go are:

#1 Letting go of your ego
Lets face it, no one likes to look like a fool, especially an old fool!. You will need to get over the fear of looking stupid and remember that everyone has to start at the same place, young or old. No one really cares how much your ego is going to get bruised, so just get on with it. You're going to make mistakes and you will learn from them. If you're lucky, someone will snap a memorable pic of you with totally focused concentration on your face as a keepsake. Remember we all make mistakes out there no matter how good we are.

#2 The type of board you ride is important
Learning on any board that happens to be lying around may not be the best idea. Short boards are like greyhounds. They require a little more precision handling than a long board or a fun board, and unless you already have quite the balancing act, you will probably either pearl (nose dive), or bog the board down by laying too far back. This may prevent you from actually catching any waves at all. Your position on the board is paramount and you need the correct board to do this. The shorter the board, the smaller the balance point. The technology of soft boards has come along way in the last couple of years. Soft boards are great for the beginner because they don't hurt when you hit them, land on them or they land on you. An as older surfer, you may be carrying a few extra kilos, so the polystyrene foam construction of these boards is more than capable of supporting the larger body. These boards may not have the same prestige as a fiber glass board, but what would you rather have, a dented ego or a dented hide?

#3 Wearing the right gear
Having the right equipment means also wearing protection from the sun or cold, or protection from the wax on the deck of the board. In Australia, the "she'll be right attitude' is one that can have you paying dearly for that hour of fun in the sun the next day. Having the right gear, for example, a rash guard (rash vest) or a wetsuit can mean the difference between an enjoyable experience and one that can leave you feeling tired, sunburned, cold and/or covered in rashes. Technology has made suits more flexible and lighter, molding to the body contours and allowing more unrestricted arm and leg movements. Less restricted movements means your energy wont be sapped before you get to do what you are trying to do. If we are already carrying a few extra kilos, we certainly don't need the extra weight of ill fitting wetsuits holding excess water.

#4 Which surf conditions are best to learn in?
The solid waves of Western Australia or Indonesia can deliver a punchy reminder to get to the gym a little more often than you may be used to. The softer waves of the Australian Eastern coastline are perhaps a little easier on the body for a beginner. (I'm not suggesting crossing the Nullabor Plains for a surf lesson!). The water temperature is a matter of preference, but remember that although wetsuits protect against the cold, they also hold water in them and add weight to your paddling strokes and to your upper body and arms when trying to stand up on the board. This will cause you to expend more energy and fatigue to set in much faster. Cold water also slows down the body's reactions and numbs your outer extremities so you can't feel the board below your feet. Surfing in warm climate is more fun and less overall stress on your body.

#5 How do I know where to go out?
When embarking on a new location to go explore your new passion, remember to take heed of the surf conditions. Beach, reef, point, they all have dangers that you need to be aware of, rips, rocks, channels, currents, marine life. Watch to see how others treat the surf or ask a local. The differences between a point break and a beach break are as vast as the waves themselves.You can usually find a quiet spot on an open beach where you can ride the white water and try to stand up. Beach breaks can have dangerous rips and undercurrents so always go out with a friend, or surf where there are people on the beach. Often there is a designated spot for surf craft just to the left or right of the lifesaving flags on popular beaches, so help is nearby if you need it. These spots are indicated by a blue sign and a white arrow. Points tend to get a lot more crowded as they can offer protection from the winds when the beaches are blown out. Points can also offer more predictable waves and surf conditions for the beginner, but you will most likely find yourself in the water with quite a few other people. Go where you feel like you will be safe but not obstructing other surfers. If you are near a lifeguard tower, let them tell you about the current beach conditions,rips, channels and where or where not to go. They will know the beaches more than anybody.

#6 Get excited by the enthusiasm of others.
If you are still a little unsure about giving it a go alone, book a surf lesson with a bunch of mates who "have always wanted to try surfing". Surf schools will provide the right surf gear for the conditions to keep you warm and rash free and enjoying the lesson. You will learn and laugh under expert tuition in a safe environment and hopefully begin the amazing journey that is surfing. Surf schools teach people of ANY age, and even if the students are younger than you, they will more than likely admire you for having the courage to give it a go. Surfing is a sporting pass time that can be learned by almost anyone of any age...depending on physical fitness. Always remember, if you are in doubt about your physical capabilities, consult your Physician.

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