Teaching surfing to children is an art all on it’s own. Children as young as two plus years old can actually be introduced to surfing safely and successfully. However one mistake or “wipeout” for a child can turn a child off from surfing and the ocean for years if not a lifetime. When it comes to teaching surfing to children the teacher as well as the proper introduction is crucial. What follows is a brief look into the Willis Brothers Surfing method we use to teach children five and under the art of surfing.
First and foremost it helps if if the potential student is enthusiastic and actually wants to ride a wave. One of the first mistakes people make is to take a child surfing because they want the child to surf. Although of Great benefit if the child wholeheartedly wants to go surfing it isn’t 100% necessary for success. A four year old per say doesn’t always know if he or she wants to go surfing. Here is were the surfing lesson begins.
For starters it’s best for students Five and under to have two instructors in place say mom and dad or mom and auntie what ever but basically a pitcher and a catcher. The pitcher will be taking the child properly placing him or her on the surfboard and responsible for catching the “right” wave. The catcher will be very close on the other end giving the child a “focal point” as well as receiving the child at the end of the ride!
Before ever “dragging” a child out into the waves it’s of Great importance to spend some time surfing right on the sand, pretending to surf. The pitcher places the child on the surfboard toward the rear and shows him or her how to stand and pretend to surf. Meanwhile the receiver stands on the sand roughly 10 to 15 feet in front of the child. “Ok!!!” says the pitcher “Here we go, keep your eyes on mommy!!!” and the pitcher begins to lift the rear of the surfboard ever so slightly and gently move it ever so slowly. Finally after a few seconds sliding the surfboard toward the catcher mirroring riding a wave. The instructors should make this little practice FUN.
After repeating the pretend surfing session a few times the student will be prepared for the “feeling” and ready to transfer the sand surfing feeling to a real wave. It is of extremely important to remember that to a little child a little wave can look and actually be a big wave. A very common mistake is when well meaning surfing instructors take the student out to far and or catch to big of a wave. Truly to a six inch wave (the smaller and slower the better) in knee deep water ten to fifteen feet from shore is the ultimate!
Proper wave selection is crucial!!! After standing the student on the surfboard and selecting just the right wave the student should be encouraged to keep his or her focus on the catcher. It’s a great idea to tell the student to wave at the catcher as they ride in (just like the sand practice) so the mind can remain calm and focused. Before the child even realizes it he or she will have successfully surfed to the shore with out even getting his or her hair wet building confidence and eliminating fears!!!
Make sure you have a camera present to photograph this priceless event so you can share pictures with the student, family and friends!!! These photos will be priceless and enjoyed for years to come. As time goes by with good fortune our young little students will grow up and eventually teach their young ones how to surf and enjoy the benefits of playing in the ocean safely for many future generations to come!!! Even more important than the photos however is the priceless experience the child will remember the rest of life!!!