In all sports there are levels, based on the technical skills of the participant, and surfing is no exception. In our courses we notice very often, especially in the initial phase, how difficult is to identify your level with the risk of overestimating it.
This could have repercussions on the learning process causing a slowdown of the progression mainly due to the choices that are not in line with own abilities.
An example above all is the choice of the board (we talked about it in this post) which is not always made taking into account the real level and the waves on which we are going to practice. Certainly there are phases in which we are straddling one level and another and it is not easy at all, despite the knowledge of the requirements, to evaluate themselves for a surf course or the purchase of a board.
Even for experts, the question of levels has always been a starting point for contrasts and often subjective visions. In this article we want to clarify and rigorously deepen the various levels existing in surfing, the related requirements and what to do if you are halfway between one level and another. And what level surfer are you? Let’s find out.
Level 0: Beginner
If you have never tried it or if you have a very short experience, you are in this level. Let’s see exactly what the specifications are.
Requirements: to be in a good general health condition and to be able to swim.
Level characteristics: from those who have never tried before to those who, after a short experience, stand up with “white waves” (waves that have already broken) going straight and start to try the “cobra” technique (a basic techniques for passing small waves that have already broken).
If the “take off” is no longer a problem and you start to direct the board on the “white waves”, then you are probably ready to go to the next level.
Photo courtesy of Max Riton
Level 1: Beginner advanced
Can you turn on “white waves”? Can you correctly perform the “cobra”? If the answer is yes, you are part of this level.
Requirements: to perform a good “take off” on “white waves” and to direct the board to the right or left. To know the theory and practice of the “cobra” technique.
Level characteristics: “Take off” and “cobra” on white waves are not a problem. We start to turn on the “white waves” both on the right and on the left and we approach the very first “green waves” in small wave conditions. This last step is only possible thanks to the theoretical and practical knowledge of the “turtle dive” technique, useful and necessary to go to the “line up”. The timing and the ascent to the “line up” are however complicated especially in the absence of a well-defined channel.
This is a level where, in small wave conditions, you start practicing the first “green waves”, the ascents towards the “line up” and putting into practice the theoretical notions on timing.
This level is characterized by a very full-bodied theory that must always be accompanied by a practice in water that is never excessive. In addition, progression is closely related to personal skills and how often you practice.
In this level, if the progression is regular and without particular problems, you can start to slightly shorten the size of the soft board you surf.
If you are starting to cut the wall of a “green” wave with the right timing, then you are probably ready to enter to the next level.
Photo courtesy of Theo Vallifuoco
Nivel 2: Intermediate
Do you know how to surf the wave wall both in “front side” and in “back side” with a “soft” board but you still struggle to generate speed? You are probably belong to this level.
Requirements: to surf the wave wall both in “front side” and in “back side” with a “soft” board and to be able to correctly perform the “turtle dive” in small to medium conditions.
Level characteristics: Work continues on the timing of “green waves”, on weight management and on how to get to the “line up” in small to medium conditions. It mentions how to pick up speed on the wall as well as the first basic maneuvers such as the “bottom turn” and the “cut back”. First approaches with “hard” boards (that is made of hard material such as resin or epoxy).
In the final stage of this level, always based on your personal skills, you start trying the “hard” boards and you realize that everything is even more difficult! At this point, practice remains the only weapon available to transfer what has been learned on the soft board to the new material you are using.
Level 3: Intermediate advanced
The transfer of what has been learned on the soft board to the hard board is one of the most critical phases ever. Time, practice and perseverance are your priorities. Without ever forgetting the theory, of course.
Requirements: Knowing how to surf the wave wall both in “front side” and in “back side” with a “hard” board. Knowing how to generate speed on the wave and mention the first basic maneuvers. Knowing how to correctly perform the duck dive in medium-small conditions.
Level characteristics: The wave wall is used to generate speed and all basic surfing maneuvers are practiced (bottom turn, floater, re-entry, cut back, off the lip). Work begins on the radical nature of the basic maneuvers.
If you are starting to work on the improvement, on the way out speed and on the power of each single maneuver, on the transition between the maneuvers, your level is probably advanced.
Level 4: Advanced
This level is characterized by three fundamental elements: “speed”, “power” and “flow”.
The latter, in fact, are the judgment criteria used by the World Surf League.
Requirements: Knowing how to perform all basic maneuvers with speed and power. Transition between the maneuvers with the aim of exploiting all the sections offered by the wave.
Level characteristics: The technique of all maneuvers, both basic and advanced, is perfected, always keeping in mind compliance with the three criteria mentioned above. We work on innovative maneuvers such as rotations and aerial maneuvers.
There would also be a fifth level of professionals who are certainly advanced surfers but from another planet! In fact, in addition to representing the perfection of the technique, the pros are characterized by having an extra gear on the following and fundamental characteristics: power, speed, fluidity, style and innovation. For this reason we call them “aliens”.
Once you have discovered your level, you just have to train to move on to the next. Choose our courses and go to the next level! Progression means having more fun. Remember: the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun!