KIDS SURFING LESSON – Instructor Training 2021

Teaching Kids Surfing Groups

Our kid’s surfing groups and camps run to a different format than the adult classes.  Kids surfing lessons are typically Fun, Safe, and Fast. First, we must give the kids the ground rules,

Follow the directions of the instructors.

  1. Stay together,
  2. Don’t go in the water without permission.
  3. Stay within eyesight,
  4. Do not go to the bathroom alone without an instructor or chaperone.

The beach environment:

First, we show the kids the beach layout: Shore break, sandbar, rocks, entry and exit points, impact zone, and lineup. Then we show them the bubble zone and the channels. Then we point out the other beach users, areas to avoid, and landmarks and watermarks. Inshore Zone, Offshore Zone, takeoff zone, impact zone, Talk about water depth, and the bottom surface of rock and coral. Recommend that everyone should wear booties, and try to keep their feet off the reef.


Know your Colors: It is helpful to delineate the areas by color. Tell the students to pay attention to the color of the water, as a clue to the type of seafloor. Dark Blue: far from shore is dark blue deeper water. This is too far out for our surfers and SUP paddle boarders. Light Blue is shallower water. Green is usually a sandy bottom. Olive or dark-green, is reef, and brown are rocks. Of course this system only works when the water is fairly clear. And this system doesn’t work when the water is murky or cloudy. When the water is all brown we call that “brownwater” and we do not go out.

Size & type of boards for Kids: Kids can ride almost any board, being lighter they can ride big boards or small boards. Bigger boards are easier to ride in small waves. They are easier to paddle and wider boards are more stable. Very small kids should not be given a too large or too heavy boards because of the significant amount of force that it could generate on the leash and may cause leg injuries.

Always be cautious about putting a light, slightly-built kid on a big heavy board. Also we refrain from putting kids on fiberglass boards in any group situation, because most fiberglass shortboards have sharp noses and sharp fins. These are a hazard in a group of beginners. All surfers must use a board leash at all times. Kids should ideally have a board stable enough to surf but light enough to handle and maneuver. Soft foam boards are great for young kids, and soft-top boards are best for the larger kids. We prefer to only use soft edged fins too, that are not sharp. Never use any board that has an exposed sharp edge, like an open ding that could cut someone.

Shirts & Shoes: All kids should use a rashguard shirt to prevent belly rash, and sunburn. Lycra body suits work well, and so do yoga pants. We recommend all kids use rubber reef shoes to protect from the rocky bottom and to provide better grip on the board. Some kids will want to use a small wetsuit. Keep in mind that kids get cold faster than adults.

BOARD SKILLS (terminology):

  • Introduction to the surfboard: Deck, Bottom, Rails, Tail, Nose, Fins, leash.
  • Show the kids the correct way to carry the board, then how to lay the boards down. We always recommend the “team carry”, and never carry boards on our heads.

IMPORTANT!! For the land lesson, Always position the boards so that they will not crack or break fins:

Choose one of the following three methods:

  1. Either dig some holes down in the sand for the fins,
  2. or Reverse the boards (nose for tail) so there is no pressure on fins.
  3. Lay the boards across the edge of the berm so that the flat underside of the board is on the high plateau of the beach, and the fins are on the slope.

Reversing the boards during the land lesson to save the fins.

TIPS to share with students:

  • Do not stand on a board unless it is supported by sand,
  • An unsupported board will crack or break off the fin.
  • Kids should not jump on the boards, but learn to treat them with respect.
  • Remind the kids that we never stand on the boards on the beach, because it can break the board and fins (*Unless it is during this specific exercise).

Laying on the board:

  • Demonstrate the correct way to lay on the board.
  • Show them how to Measure out on the bard, the kids should sild back so that their toes are level with the tail of the board.
  • This is important to prevent future nosedives.
  • Lighter kids need to lay farther back than heavier kids.
  • Show the students how to find this spot in the board every time they climb back on.

*When the kids lie on the boards they should support their back by putting their elbows on the board underneath their chests. This raises the heads, and lets them see behind them. Their legs should be parallel, and their feet should be together or even slightly apart gripping the sides of the board.

  •  Take extra care not to force students to hold this pose too long, have the students change position often**, (See SM section),
  • Why? because in a small number of people this position may cut off blood flow in the spine causing injury.
  • Keep them moving, changing position often, and avoid any movements that cause any pain or discomfort.
  • You may have to modify your approach for different people.
  • Gently get students into this position in a smooth way like just like getting into a beginner yoga pose, never push to discomfort level.
  • Some people may need to warm up before the exercise.
  • Show students how to sit up on the board while waiting for a wave.

Warning: Surfing students should not hold the hyper-extended position for more that a few minutes. Because of risk of “surfer’s myelopathy”, a rare condition damaging the spine.

Warm up during Land Lesson: The land lesson is the best time to do a warm up before the activity. We always have the students do some practice run-throughs of the different positions, and sequences. This most be done slowly and in a controlled way so that the students can learn the correct movements, and so their bodies can get used to doing the movements. For some people this will be a very different or new experience for them, and possibly the first time ever doing these positions. Also this is a when you can tell students to report any pain or difficulty doing any movement. Instructors need to pay attention to their student’s feedback, to avoid any injuries. For these reasons we never skip the land lesson, and always do a warm up before any lesson or session, regardless of the student’s skill level.

Standup Sequence: Next we go through the standup sequence a few times, (We recommend at least three times all the way through). Repetition helps them remember mentally, and helps their muscles to remember (proprioceptively). Kids generally have a shorter attention span, so grab their attention early and get make it fun, and get down to talk at their eye level.

Make it interesting and entertaining but Keep it simple:  Do not talk about unnecessary stuff that might confuse the message. Over-talking, or joking around too much, confuses the important parts of the message. Also try to maintain a distraction-free environment.

We always teach the crawl up technique to beginners.
This provides the most versatility and is easy for anyone. We avoid teaching the pop-up technique because there will be more crashes and more accidents. Please take time to really learn to teach the correct standup sequence so you can teach it to everyone.


Do not teach the “pop-up” method: We only teach the poop-up method to private lessons, advanced lessons. In a group setting it is more dangerous to teach this because there is less chance of a student successfully mastering a “pop-up”, so the student falls frequently and loses control of their board. This creates a safety risk for the entire group. It is better, safer, and more controlled to have everyone do the “crawl up” method during any group class.

Correct Stance: Teach kids the correct surfer’s stance. Kids can try standing “goofy foot” (right foot forward) and “Regular” stance (left foot forward), and whichever way suits them is fine. During the land lesson it is good to have all of them try both sides. Some kids will be able to surf both ways. Try to let them find what works well for them, and tell them that one way is no better than another. Some kids will just copy what they see, and try to mimic their friends. Generally we want to attach the leash to their back ankle, so they will not trip on it less when surfing. If after they have caught a few waves and you notice their leash is on the front foot, you can switch it for them. Try to notice how your students are standing so you can remind them later. If you are not sure which foot to put their leash on, put it on their right foot (*because slightly more surfers are regular stance).

Managing Traffic:

  • Explain to every student that they need room to surf, and to never take off when another person is close by or in front of them.
  • To manage traffic we always paddle out and go around the waves, and not to paddle back out through the impact zone.
  • Maintaining a clear traffic direction is vital when controlling a

T-Boning: The most common traffic problem to avoid is “T-boning”.
T-boning is when a surfer takes off with another surfer in their
path, and then runs straight into their side. This is very dangerous and is easily avoided.

Clustering: Another common problem is too many boards clustered together, if a wave comes boards and people will fly