How many surf lessons will I need? | 20-30 Best Surf Lessons Sunshine Coast

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A common question we get asked here at North Caloundra Surf School, is: How many lessons will it take me before I can start surfing by myself?

It is a very broad question, but we are going to outline everything you need to know…

Surfing takes hundreds, if not thousands of hours to perfect our skills. If you are considering a more in-depth approach to learning we highly recommend our membership and training book, @surf4health development guide. This book is designed to take you from a beginner to an intermediate. But for those first-timers just looking for a bit of confidence, here is our answer…

We must take into consideration four main aspects: Fitness, Age, Mentality and Energy (FAME). Believe it or not, surfing is more of a mental game than it is physical. Being able to read and understand the ocean is one of the most mesmerising but difficult things. Developing an eye for moving water takes a lot of time, respect, patience, humility and some wisdom. Think of ocean analysis as a form of meditation. While we are learning we need to have a patient, relaxed and a fixated attention span.

Looking back at our almost twenty-five years of coaching history, we have had a tremendous range of students. In fact, if we added them all up it would easily be within the one hundred thousand range. Working with large numbers of public & private schools, camps, large not-for-profit charitable organisations, busy weekend holiday classes, all the way through to our individual classes.

From this, we have developed a generalisation as to how many lessons are needed before a complete novice can start hitting the waves by themselves. It is usually between twenty to thirty professional lessons, sometimes even forty… You may be thinking all sorts of things from that information, but surfing is one of the most difficult (and funnest) sports in the world, so it’s fair to say that it is going take you lots of practice. After thirty lessons you should have a solid understanding of ocean safety, and then be able to confidently choose where it is safest for you to surf (based on your independent skill level as a beginner).

Now, let’s look at the few things we must consider:

The ocean is never completely safe. Have you ever seen a lifeguard put a green flag on the beach recently? Probably not because they were banned many years ago. They now only place yellow flags to inform beachgoers to swim cautiously, or red flags are used when it is completely unsafe. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Bondi Rescue you probably know what we are talking about. Rips, sweeps, rocks, unaware, tired and panicked swimmers.The beach can be a highly dangerous place if approached without a solid understanding of surf safety and awareness…

Which is what we teach in our lessons!

2. FAME (Fitness, Age, Mentality, Energy):
FAME is a generalisation of how North Caloundra Surf School briefly assess our students before their first lesson.

5 to 10-year-olds:
This age group will have more difficulties concentrating and understanding how to read the ocean for safety.
Therefore, our kids’ classes are monitored with extra precautions, we keep surf safety lessons simple and fun. In some cases, their unknowingness can also be an advantage for them, a bit of naïve bravery will help a student tackle a wave. Most advanced grommets have learnt the ocean through their parents or older siblings. A lot of them just wing it and guess, which is not the safest option, but that is the reality and culture of surfing.

This age group has the most energy which is needed as fighting the resistance of the water can be quite challenging as a grom.

11 to 15-year-olds:
If beginning surfing at this age you most probably find you can grasp a few basic concepts of surf safety and awareness, then apply them practically. Generally, at this age you are still young and fit, so popping-up on the board shouldn’t be as much of an issue. However, we find most this age are still very forgetful when it comes to surf awareness and reading the beach. Hence, require more instruction and reminding throughout their lessons.

16 to 25-year-olds:
This is the standard age when students can fully grasp the principles of reading the ocean, including surf safety and awareness. We find this age group to be of the easiest and fastest learners. The body can still move and perform freely and efficiently, plus students have a greater memory and can recite surf awareness much better than younger children. For an untrained person, muscle strength, recovery and energy are also at their peak so training can be more intense and frequent.

Over 25-year-olds:
At this age you may have to start considering your fitness, energy and mobility. For example, if you’ve been working an office job for the past five years, or if you have previous injuries, are unfit or you have had children. You may find you need to brush up on your movement, strength and mobility. As beginners learning for the first time, this age group has a greater mentality and advantage for surf safety and reading the ocean compared to 16–25-year old’s.

Seniors that are fresh to surfing will struggle mainly with their fitness, energy, strength and mobility. However, we generally find them to be very understanding and patient when it comes to reading the surf, which is the most difficult for the younger surfers. Seniors know their fitness limits, hence are usually more cautious when approaching the surf and take more time observing the water from the shore. Their training is low intensity. This age group just want to find an easy wave and have fun.

So to sum it up, we recommend twenty to thirty professional lessons, and for others struggling it will be forty. Assistance may need to be provided all the time for those with disabilities.

Surfing is a little bit like riding a bike or swimming. You will never forget, but if you let it go for too long you may lose a lot of fitness which will weigh down your performance and stagnate your personal goals. We recommend giving yourself a maximum time frame of four to five years. If that sounds too long and you can’t wait, twenty to thirty professional lessons within one year is probably a more realistic amount of time for you.

After twenty to thirty lessons we guarantee that your knowledge will have increased tenfold. You will be more independently confident choosing the correct surf breaks, and knowing which sand banks are suitable for your skill level.

Twenty, thirty or forty lessons can set you up to around $500 to almost $2000. We want our surf lessons to remain affordable for everyone which is why we also offer 20% off lesson prices through our @surf4health development program, as mentioned at the beginning of this article. @surf4health is a member’s only program from North Caloundra Surf School, for more information visit:

Our lessons are also supported by NDIS Government funding. Talk to your plan manager about formulating an agreement with us so that NDIS funding can be used for our therapeutic surfing lessons.

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