If you have always wanted to take up surfing but are worried you’ve left it too late, we are here to convince you to finally jump onto that board.
You might be concerned that you’re not in good enough shape any more to learn to surf, or that you left it too late to gain confidence in the water that you didn’t achieve as a child.
Whatever your worry is, we promise, it’s never too late to learn to surf.
This image above I’m very proud of! Aged 33, 3 years after I started to surf.
What are you worried about?
Many over thirties’ have similar worries when it comes to taking up a new sport. Let’s explore a few of them and try to ease your mind:
“I’m not 18 any more”
Many thirty-odd year olds may have spent ten-plus years in a desk job, allowed a little beer-belly or dad-bod creep up on them, or perhaps don’t visit the gym as often as they did in their early twenties.
Surfing might look like a very active sport when you watch professionals do their thing on a board, but you don’t need to be at your physical peak to begin, or even close to it.
A little strength is all you need to paddle yourself out and to pop yourself up when you catch a wave. Sure, being strong helps to make it feel easier, but it is not essential, and the more you surf, the more your physical shape will improve with time.
“What if I get cold?”
If you’re thinking of diving in the UK or somewhere in Europe, you might be worried about feeling cold in the water. It can be tempting to avoid the blustery beach and stay home with a hot chocolate by the fireplace… but we’re not going to let you give up that easily!
The chill of cold water can be avoided by investing in a good wetsuit, a 5mm thick wetsuit would be ideal for keeping you toastie in British waters.
If you want to go to the next level you can also get a hood, boots, and gloves for extra warmth. And after the dive? How about a cosy dry robe or towel poncho to quickly change into at the beach? Reach for your flask of hot coffee and you’ll be warm in no time and feel energised from your water session.
“I’m scared of water conditions”
As we get older we tend to worry more about safety. Many people avoid water sports because they are scared of waves, currents, tides, and dangerous rocks. This is a reasonable fear and something that every surfer should consider. But don’t let it put you off as there are ways to check water conditions, and things you can do to prioritise safety.
Firstly, it is never a good idea to go surfing alone, so consider finding a friend to take up surfing with you so you will always have a buddy on hand (plus it’s fun to learn together). Next, seek out experienced surfers who know the area and the sea conditions well already. There are many groups on social media for surfers in specific areas, or just go to the beach and ask around.
Having other surfers around will make you feel more confident and reassured that if anything goes wrong there’s someone there to help you.
Lastly, learn how to read sea conditions; other surfers will be able to show you how to research sea conditions and make safe and sensible decisions based on the wind and waves that day. Always choose a safe dive spot that doesn’t have strong currents or dangerous rocks around. If you go for a session and the conditions don’t look safe, don’t risk it. There’s always tomorrow!
“I’m not a confident swimmer”
The idea of surfing is to try and stay on the board most of the time. However, it’s likely that you will fall in a few times as you are learning.
The thought of paddling out to deep water if you’re not a strong swimmer might fill you with anxiety, keep in mind though that you always have the board attached to your foot and available to hold onto, you will also be wearing a wetsuit which is made of very buoyant neoprene which allows you to float without any effort involved.
If you are still worried about being in deep water, consider taking up some swimming lessons, or even taking a freediving course to give you more confidence for surfing.
Extra tips for enjoying surfing over 30
Now that we’ve addressed some common worries, here are a few more tips to help get you surf-ready:
- Prioritise your body: As mentioned above, it’s not essential to be in great shape for surfing. But if you are worried that you’re not strong or flexible enough to enjoy it, try to fit in a few gym sessions after work, take up running or swimming, or join regular yoga classes. It’s important to be strong enough to paddle yourself to safety if you need to.
- Get the right equipment: As we already talked about, a good wetsuit will keep you warmer and make your water sessions more enjoyable. A good board can also make surfing feel easier; choose a longboard that is recommended for beginners, a longer board will help you to catch waves easier without having to use too much strength.
- Sign up for a surf camp: Look at booking yourself into a surf camp somewhere a bit warmer. Surf camps offer lessons for beginners where you can learn with other people at the same level. Instructors can help keep you safe, and most people improve much quicker at camps than if they try to teach themselves. Learning in warmer waters will help you to stay relaxed and motivated while you’re learning.
- Enjoy the process and set realistic goals: This is essential. You’re not going to turn into pro surfer Kelly Slater as soon as you touch a surfboard. As with any sport, it takes time to get really good. But practicing and seeing yourself improve is the best part. Accept that you might not be great at the start and most importantly, have fun!
About the author
Watersports Pro is managed by Ollie, who has been in the industry since 2007. A paddleboard and advanced windsurfing instructor, Ollie has travelled the world teaching these sports.
Now based on the South Coast of England, he shares his experience and knowledge on watersportspro.co.uk.