2 tricks for getting better at reading waves

Reading waves is one of those things that’s hard learn, harder to explain, & really only come from experience.

As I started writing, I realised just how broad of a topic it is too. For example, there’s 3 different scenarios when reading a wave is important:

  • from the beach, to decide where to paddle out & where to sit
  • in the lineup, to find your positioning & choose your waves
  • on the wave itself, to make the most of your ride

Each scenario deserves its own post to be honest, but as a starting point I’ll share some general advice plus 2 tricks I use regularly. So, how do you close the gap between checking the waves & getting yourself onto a good one?

Well, the best thing you can do is simply observe. Better yet, combine active observation with the power of hindsight.

Here’s 2 tricks I personally use:

☝️ When in the lineup & a wave’s approaching, ask yourself: What does the wave look as it approaches? A right? A left? A closeout? Where’s the peak? How far out do I think it’ll break?

Then look towards the beach & watch the wave break from behind.

What does the wave actually do? Was it the right or left you thought? Did it section or break fast or slow? When & where did it start breaking?

Doing this will help you know what a wave will do next time so you can choose the good ones & know where to be for it. Just be careful not to take the next wave on the head 😅.

✌️ The 2nd trick is to check the waves when you get out from your surf.

Compare how it felt when you were out there with how it looks from the beach now. Were you sitting in the right spot? If you were about to paddle out, where would you go?

This will help close the gap between what you see during surf checks & what to expect when you’re out there cause it ain’t always the same.

I do these regularly because the ocean has countless variables that are always changing. It’s not just a matter of reading waves, but reading waves given the conditions right now. And hindsight truly is 20/20 so may as well learn from it.

💬 Any tricks you do to help with wave literacy?

3 things you can do to

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