Levels of Surfing

How experienced are you as a surfer? Generally, more experienced surfers don’t ask this question but since so many beginners do, here is the breakdown.

Novice – In this stage you are brand new to surfing. You are getting or had a few lessons/sessions. You should quickly advance out of this phase.

  • Learning rules of surfing
  • Learning about equipment
  • Learning to stand/1st lesson
  • Can stand when being pushed into waves/whitewater
  • Can catch whitewater by yourself and stand up

Beginner – In this stage you are learning how to surf by yourself. You are catching small waves by yourself and starting to get a feel for the board. Some people will be in this phase after one lesson, others may take several sessions to get here. If you aren’t surfing regularly, you probably won’t get past this phase. Many beginners, especially those on vacation or those that do not live near the beach will stay in this phase. Getting to the next phase requires putting time in.

  • Can catch small waves by yourself and stand up
  • Can surf small waves down the line
  • Can turn the board
  • Beginning to read waves

Advanced Beginner – You are finally learning to surf but you are definitely still a beginner. You can turn your board. You can now paddle out to the line up and cruise down the line on a 3-4 ft wave. In order to advance past this stage you need to be able to carve your board up and down the face of the wave. Yes you should be able to do this on your wavestorm or longboard. You are NOT ready for a shortboard until you can do this.

  • Can turn the board
  • Can carve the board from the top to bottom of the wave
  • Can surf waist to chest high waves down the line
  • Can paddle to lineup

Intermediate – Please do NOT get a shortboard until you are in this phase. You are now a decent surfer. You might still be learning your limits but you can easily surf waves in the head high to overhead range. You can carve the line, surf long or short boards if you desire, and are building up that quiver! Most people in this phase don’t need to ask what level of surfer they are, you know you are good but not Kelly Slater. Also, many surfers never advance past this phase as they don’t need to. You are a good competent surfer.

  • Surfing larger waves in the chest-overhead range
  • Can surf any surfboard (made for your size)
  • When in groups of beginners, can easily catch more waves
  • Building a quiver of boards for various types of waves
  • Can get barreled
  • Can duckdive/turtle roll
  • Can get to the line up in larger surf

Advanced – If you are here, you know it. You are good. You can dominate the line up unless everyone is an expert. You can do what you want in any size surf.

  • Can surf bigger waves well overhead
  • Can perform aerial maneuvers
  • Can paddle around intermediates
  • Looks like a professional to non surfers