What is Surfing?


Surfing is an ocean water sport in which the surfer will ride on the face of a moving wave that will carry him or her toward the shore. Waves are mainly found best in the ocean, but can be found in certain rivers or lakes if the weather is suitable.


Surfing History

The exact origins of surfing are not certain, but Europeans first observed the sport on a ship in Tahiti back in 1767. There is research that suggests that surfing dates back to ancient Polynesian cultures that existed years ago. Surfing in Hawaii also has a very rich tradition, as ancient inhabitants looked at the sport as an integral part of life. It was not just a hobby for these residents, but it was a way of life.

Playing Surface

surfing playing surface

Surfing takes place on the water, with the ocean being the most common form. The ocean can be rough, so sometimes the surface is bumpy when it is super windy out. The ideal surface is when it is relatively smooth along with a clean break of waves. This will allow the surfer to have no issues paddling out, and will also have a more smooth ride when he or she catches the wave.


Surfing Equipment

In order to surf, there are a couple pieces of equipment that you must have. Essential equipment will include a board, fins, leash, wax, and a wetsuit. Wax is extremely important because it will give you the grip that you need when paddling and riding on a wave. The wetsuit is also important because since you will be in the water for an extended period of time, you are going to want to make sure you are staying warm. In really cold temperatures, you also may need gloves and booties to keep your hands and feet warm. If the weather is warm, then all you may need is a rash guard and bathing suit.


Surfing Gameplay

A surfing event consists of rounds that are made up of heats with anywhere from two to four surfers trying to lock in their two highest scoring waves. Both of the two top waves will be out of a possible 10 for a 20 point heat total. The length of a heat will be between 20 to 30 minutes depending on the type of event. The surfers that get the best results will advance to the next round until the finals.

Positions and Roles

Surfing Positions and Roles

In surfing, there are really only two roles necessary for a surfer to find success. Those two positions are the surfer and the coach. These two people will work together before a competition to make sure that the surfer is prepared for anything that might happen in the water. They will very closely analyze the waves and make sure that the surfer is ready for any curveball that may approach him or her while out in the water. Without the coach, it is going to be very difficult for the surfer to achieve success in a competition.

Rules and Regulations

Surfing Rules and Regulations

In professional and amateur surf competitions, there are not too many complicated rules. The main reason rules are in place is to ensure the safety of the athletes, fairness of competition, and also to simply promote good surfing. An important rule violation to be aware of is interference. A surfer who hinders the scoring potential of a surfer with priority of them will be given a penalty. Priority is when a surfer has the unconditional right of way to catch any wave they choose. Along with that, most surf organizations have strict anti-doping policies.

Referees and Officials

Surfing Referees and Officials

The job of the judge in a surfing competition is to determine which surfer performs the closest to the criteria of the officials. It is essential for a judge to have knowledge, confidence, and experience to give out the correct results. For almost all surf leagues, judges must learn through The International Judging and Officiating Courses. Judges of events are also responsible for giving out penalties for violations, and ensuring that the competition is safe.

Lingo and Terminology

Surfing Lingo and Terminology

Surfing contains perhaps one of the most unique glossary of terms in the English language. You can talk with someone for no longer than five minutes and if he or she is a surfer, it will be made clear rather quickly due to the lingo that is being used. Here are some popular terms that surfers love to use.

  • Barney: A surfer that is uncool, untalented, or a rookie
  • Benny: A person who is not a local
  • Closeout: When the wave breaks all at once
  • Flat: No surf or waves
  • Green Room: Inside of a barrel
  • Kook: A rookie surfer who isn't very good at the sport
  • Localism: Hostility by local surfers toward non-locals
  • Macking: Huge waves breaking
  • Party Wave: A wave that several people are surfing
  • Peeling: When a wave breaks perfectly


Surfing Coaching

Whether he is training an athlete for competition or simply teaching someone how to surf, a coach is an integral part of a surfer's success. A coach will analyze the surfer's technique and tell him or her what changes that may need to be made. Along with that, a coach will do a great job in helping the surfer get mentally prepared for the competition. Athletes get nervous sometimes, especially in individual events, so the coach needs to make sure that the surfer is confident and ready to go ocne the competition starts.

Skills and Techniques

Surfing Skills and Techniques

Surfing is a sport that requires a lot of skill along with precise technique. A surfer needs to have great upper body strength for paddling, great agility, and also superb balance. Balance is perhaps one of the most important skills to have, as you are standing on a surfboard that is moving through an ever changing ocean. A surfer also needs to be very flexible, as getting on your feet every time takes quite a toll on your body overtime.


Surfing Strategy

Along with the skills and technique you must possess to be a successful surfer, there is also a large amount of strategy that comes with the sport. It is not enough for a competitive surfer to simply go out in the ocean and perform. He or she must strategize the wave selection and time management of a heat. Wave selection is extremely important in a heat.

Sometimes a surfer may play mind games with his or her opponents when the athlete has priority. The surfer may give the idea that he or she is paddling for a wave, but then will pull out at the last second leaving opponents confused. From the get-go surfers are going to want to play mind games with their opponents, all while remaining confident, and being smart in their wave selections and time management of the heat.


Surfing Drills

There are many drills and exercises that are necessary if you want to find success while in the water. Making your body more flexible, stronger, more powerful, and more durable will lead you to notice an extremely large difference in your surfing ability. Chin-ups are a great workout to perform to acquire upper body pulling strength. This workout will also give you optimal mobility of the shoulder, which will allow you to apply force with the paddle stroke in the water. Push ups are another straightforward yet effective workout for surfers to perform. This workout will translate flawlessly to the water once you get your form down. The main goal is to work on your endurance, strength, and flexibility in order to become among the top surfers in your competition.

Olympic Surfing

Olympic Surfing

Surfing will be a sport for the first time ever at the Tokyo Games in 2021 (Postponed a year due to COVID 19). Duke Kahanamoku, a three time Olympic Swimming champion, advocated for surfing to be in the games all the way back in 1920. This Olympian is known as the father of modern surfing and is responsible for making it so popular all around the world. At the next games, the Tokyo competition will be taking place at Tsurigasaki Beach, on the Chiba Peninsula with 40 athletes split between men and women.

Surfing Brands

Surfing Brands

Surfing is a multimillion dollar industry that funds world tours, sponsoring professionals, and releasing large amounts of media. Without the popular brands in surfing, the industry would not be as successful as it currently is. Here are some top brands:

  • Billabong
  • Hurley
  • Ripcurl
  • Channel Islands Surfboards
  • Patagonia
  • Vissla

Surfing Youth Organizations

Surfing Youth Organizations

If you live on the beach or any area where surfing is popular, it will not be difficult to find a youth organization to join that can teach the fundamentals of surfing. Surf camps are very popular for young kids during the summer months so that kids have something to do when they are not in school. Not only do these camps keep them out of trouble, but it will hopefully give them a new lifelong passion for surfing.

Surfing Coaches

Surfing Coaches

Most surf coaches are ex-professionals themselves. They use their experience and knowledge to teach the surfer. A surfer is going to want someone in their corner who has been in the same position as him, so they can help better prepare him for competition. These coaches will be equipped with the type of knowledge and experience that cannot be acquired through an online certification class. Below are some of the top coaches, and the athletes that they coach.

Mike ParsonKolohe Andino
Chris GallagherJordy Smith
Brad GerlachConner Coffin
Ross WilliamsJohn John Florence
Glenn HallOwen Wright

Surfing Players

Surfing Players

Surfing has a very rich history, with a lot of famous surfers who are considered to be pioneers for the sport due to them pushing the limits of what can be done in the water. There are surfers from all over the world, and many of them have found success traveling the planet and taking on the world's fiercest waves. Below are some of the most popular surfers ever.

Mick FanningAustralia
Bethany HamiltonUnited States
Gabriel MedinaBrazil
John John FlorenceUnited States
Lisa AndersonUnited States
Laird HamiltonUnited States
Stephanie GilmoreAustralia
Kelly SlaterUnited States

Surfing Leagues

Surfing Leagues

In surfing, the World Surf League dominates the industry when it comes to professional surfing. This league is responsible for holding professional events for almost all disciplines when it comes to surfing. This includes big wave, freestyle, longboard, junior level, and other specialty events. The league celebrates the world's best surfers across all disciplines, running more than 180 global competitions a year. Outside of competitions, the league also gives out awards to people who submit videos of the best waves they catch throughout a year.

Surfing Teams

Surfing Teams

Surfing is an individual sport. Therefore, at the professional level, you will not find too many "teams" where people are working together. However, it is common for people of the same country to have the same coach, especially now that surfing is an Olympic sport. At the college level however, there are plenty of surfing teams if the school is near a beach with good waves. They will all have the same coach and everyone will work together and push each other to improve. Along with that, schools also have clubs if someone is looking to join a team just for fun, and not get too competitive.

Surfing Events

Surfing Events

Surfing events are a great way to spend the day whether you are a surfing fan or not. Whether it is a competition, fan fest, meet and greet, or anything else surfing related, it is a great way to get more involved in the sport and maybe even meet some professionals. Surfing tournaments in Hawaii will attract tons of fans, and all throughout the beach there will be tents for sponsors where there will be all sorts of games and other fun activations to get the fans involved.

Surfing Tournaments

Surfing Tournaments

Surfers travel all around the globe to compete against each other on the World Surf League's tour. Regardless of discipline, the competition is always high and there is always a lot at stake (cash prizes). Below are some of the most popular surfing events for spectators to go watch.

Maverick'sNorthern California
Tahiti Pro TeahupooTeahupo'o, Tahiti
Hawaiin ProAlii Beach Park, Haleiwa
Vans World Cup of SurfingSunset Beach, Hawaii
Billabong Pipeline MastersHawaii's Northern Shore

Surfing Books

Surfing Books

Never are the waves going to be ideal every single day, so why not spend your off days reading some of the best surfing books there are? Below is a list of books that paint vivid pictures of how and why we spend our days daydreaming about surfing. Whether it is a book that describes the history of surfing, the life of a surfer, or simply what makes the sport so great, these books will be hard to put down once you start reading.

Barbarian Days: A Surfing LifeWilliam Finnegan
Let My people Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant BusinessmanYvon Chouinard
For the LoveKelly Slater
The CodeShaun Tomson
In Search of Captain ZeroAlan Weisbecker
Soul SurferBethany Hamilton
The History of SurfingMatt Warshaw

Surfing Websites

Surfing Websites

Surfing websites can be used for a variety of different reasons. One of the biggest reasons people go on the internet is to check out what the surf is like. They will go online and check the webcams of the waves rather than driving all the way to the beach. Another reason surfers might use the internet is to check out equipment or watch videos, along with checking out the results of the latest competitions. Below are some of the top surfing websites.

Surfline.comSurf Forecast
Worldsurfleague.comWorld Surfing League Official Websites
redbull.com/us-en/shows/who-is-jobSurfing VLOG


What is Surfing?

Surfing is the sport of riding on waves in an upright position. Surfers catch ocean waves and glide across the surface of water until the wave breaks and loses its energy.

Surfing is most popular in coastal areas where there are waves that are prime for surfing. Thes areas include California, Hawaii, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Costa Rica, and much more.

Is Surfing an olympic sport?

For the first time ever, surfing will be an Olympic sport in the upcoming Tokyo games. 40 athletes split between men and women will be competing for the gold.

What are the types of surfing?

The types of surfing include the following:

  • Stand-up surfing
  • Bodyboarding
  • Longboarding
  • Shortboarding

What is longboarding?

Longboarding and Shortboarding also vary in more ways than just the length of their board. Longboards are equipped with one fin and have thick rounded ends, this is so that they glide more efficiently over the wave.

What is bodyboarding?

Bodyboarding is the only one of the three which doesn't require a board and utilizes the surfer's body to ride the wave.

What is a shortboard?

Shortboards are often thinner, have three fins, and have pointed ends. Shortboards are most commonly used in rough waters since they are easier to maneuver and faster than longboards due to their size and weight.

What is the World Surfing League?

The highest level of competition in surfing is found in the World Surfing League. Originally started in California by Randy Rarick and Fred Hemmings in the late 1970s, they established it with an intent to bring together the most talented surfer's in the world to let them compete for a world championship. With surfing's rising popularity it makes sense that the sport is now being added to Olympic competition in 2020.