Progression Tips: How Do You Know When You’re Ready for a Different Board?

Two surfers carrying boards on the beach.

Knowing when and what board to progress to in the early stages of your surfing experience can be a complex topic! There are plenty of factors to take into consideration including how you feel on your current board, board volume and the style of surfing you would like to pursue.

Here at Wetsuit Centre, we want you to to get the most out of your surfing. We have created this guide to help you when contemplating getting a new board at each progression stage.

A group of surfers on the beach carrying blue sponge boards.

When Are You Ready To Progress From a Sponge Board?

Let's start at the very beginning for those who are very new to surfing. You may have your own sponge/ foam board or have been hiring one every surf session. Either way, before you are ready to dedicate a purchase to a hardboard, some careful consideration will be needed.

Make Sure You Have the Basics Covered

Hardboards tend not to be as sturdy as sponge boards, hence why sponge boards are ideal for beginners to get up onto their feet.

If you think you are ready to progress to a hardboard, it may be worth knowing you can do the following:

• You feel capable to paddle the sponge board.
• You can catch a wave on your own.
• You can pop up correctly.

Feeling competent at these two things is especially important because when you progress to a harder board, it will feel a lot different from the extra float provided by a sponge board. You may feel slightly wobbly and awkward again.

If you are just starting out, take a look at our beginners tips for some useful advice to help you progress!

A surfer surfing a shortboard in the sunset.

How Do You Know That Your Current Surfboard is Suitable?

If you have a hardboard and want to know if the board you currently have is suitable for your surfing abilities, you ideally should find you can achieve the following:

The Surfboard is Easy to Paddle

Ideally, you should find that after a few sessions in the water with a new board you can paddle it more easily than not. You should be able to balance on the board as you paddle, and, minus the odd few occasions, be able to lie on it without too much trouble.

You Can Catch Waves with Ease on the Surfboard

When we refer to this, we mean that waves are not frequently disappearing under you. If this does happen, it could be your positioning. If the nose is sticking out of the water, you are too far back on your board. This halts the board when going for a wave.

However, if you find you are struggling to catch waves despite this, it could mean that the board is currently too small for your ability.

Nose Diving

As we have mentioned, what happens if you are too far back on your board, it is also worth mentioning what happens if you are too far forward.

Nose diving is something that will happen throughout your surfing experience, especially at the beginning. It just means that you are too far forward on your board, so the board is pushed nose-first into the water catching a wave. Therefore, you need to adjust your position slightly back on your board or arch your back more.

How Do You Know If Your Surfboard Is Too Small?

If you find you struggle with either paddling the board or catching waves, you may need to consider selecting a more suitable board.

Progress Before You Decrease the Size Of Your Surfboard

Progression is challenging on boards which are too small because not only are you unable to paddle into waves, the time on your feet is limited meaning that you achieve minimal practice standing up on the board. Therefore improving your surfing is hindered.

Consider a Mini-Mal

A much loved in between board tends to be a Mini-Mal. Once you have mastered this, you then may want to consider moving onto another board.

If you are aiming for a shorter board, it is recommended to decrease the length in stages and experiment with shorter boards through that process.

Why is Volume, Width and Thickness Also Important in a Surfboard?

Length is not the only element to consider when trying to choose a board. The volume, width and thickness of a board also have an equal part to play in the advancement of your surfing.

The volume of the board is almost like the float of the board. Combined with the correct width and thickness, it can also stabilise the board, despite the length. Therefore, you could have a smaller sized board while maintaining the balance, which is usually associated with longer boards.

What is the Rocker and How Does It Affect the Surfboard?

The rocker affects the shape of the board. For example, if a board has ‘more rocker’, it means the board curves more. When looking at the board side on, it will embody a more upwards bending shape.

If you are at the start of learning to surf, you do not want ‘too much rocker’ and ideally need a flatter rocker as it steadies the board. In general, longboards and mini-mals tend to be shaped with a flat rocker anyway.

A surfer carrying a longboard on the beach.

How Do You Choose Between Progressing to a Longboard or Shortboard?

This question depends entirely on how you would like to personally progress your surfing. Longboards and shortboards offer different styles and experiences of surfing. They can also be swell-dependent.

It is worth noting that, as you advance, there are also other types of surfboard options in between these two standard styles, such as a fish, for example.

Shortboards Vs Longboards

In a very generalised description, shortboards can offer:

• A more snappy and quick style of surfing.
• Light in weight which makes them easier to carry.
• Generally more suitable in powerful and bigger waves.
• Easy to turn.

On the other hand, in another simplified explanation, longboards can offer:

• A smooth, chilled style of surfing.
• More of a platform to ‘walk the board’.
• Ease of catching waves (Usually can catch waves before other surfers as you can start further back in the surf).
• Useful in smaller surf.

However, it is also relevant to point out that you don’t have to stick to one style, and you can try between the two board styles! As you advance more, and you are used to one, why not challenge yourself with the other?

Do you have any other questions concerning surfboard for progression we haven’t mentioned in our blog post? Why not ask us on our social media channels? We would love to help you out!

Are you prepared for the water? If you’re in need of some new gear, why not take a look at our range of wetsuits and surf accessories?

Other Articles You May Be Interested In:

Paddleboarding: Basic Tips for Beginners