Transitioning to a shortboard can be tricky, frustrating, yet ultimately rewarding. There are a few lessons you’ll have to learn the hard way. And you’re going to spend a significant amount of time falling. That being said, we want you to be as prepared as possible for this exciting step in your surfing journey! We’ve put together a list of 5 lessons you’ll learn when you finally take the leap to a shortboard!
1. Paddling is actually kind of hard
While surfing well on any craft requires a certain fitness level, it is no secret that more foam means easier paddling. When you decide to drop down a significant board size, say from 9’0” to 6’2”, your first paddle out will feel more like an open ocean swim. There’s a couple of things you can do to prepare for this new challenge. The first, would be to gradually drop down in board size so that your body has time to adjust. But if you don’t live near the ocean and you plan on trying a shortboard on your next trip, keep a few things in mind. Did you put in an adequate amount of time on a longboard to be able to confidently jump down to a shortboard? If the answer is yes, hit the neighborhood pool and get into peak paddle shape before your trip.
2. Where you catch the wave matters
Gone are the days where you could sit out the back and pop into waves early. You’re on a shortboard now. With less surface area to help catch the wave, sitting in the right location in the lineup is imperative to your success. First, your going to have to catch the wave at the absolute peak, not the shoulder, so get ready to chase peaks as soon as you see them pop up. Now that you’ve positioned yourself in the peak, make sure that you are getting into to wave just before it breaks. The smaller your board, the later you will have to catch the wave. The good news is that a smaller board will handle a steep drop in better than a longboard.
3. Balance is key
Longboards are called logs for a reason, those things are huge. You can walk up and down them while riding, dance around, and they can even fit more than one surfer at a time! Shortboards on the other hand, are not so stable. Once you make the switch, you’ll notice just how much balance is required to ride a shortboard. Stepping too far forward, too far back, or too close to your rails can be detrimental to your ride.
4. No more training wheel pop ups
On a longboard, on a small wave, you can get away with crawling to your feet in just about in way, shape, or form. On a shortboard however, a misplaced hand or using your knees can end your pop up before it begins. I recommend working on the fluidity of your pop up on a longboard and on land, before making the switch.
5. You have to find speed in the wave
Finally, once you’ve made all the adjustments required to catch that allusive wave on a shortboard, you have to ride it! Standing tall and taking it into the beach isn’t going to fly. In order to continue your ride and ensure the wave doesn’t simply roll under you, you’re going to have to find speed in the face of the wave. In other words, you’re going to have to pump, digging your inside rail into the face of the wave, causing you to slide up the face. And then releasing your rail, causing you to fall back down the face of the wave. This is how you generate speed on a shortboard and set up for that big air you’ll be working on in no time!
If you want to give a shortboard a try, then join us at Witch’s Rock where we have a board cage full of boards of all shapes and sizes for you to experiment with.