Can a Beginner Ride a Shortboard? Yes or No!

So you're new to surfing and want to know can a beginner ride a shortboard.

This is a decision every surfer makes when starting out. Whether to play it safe and get a longboard/soft-top surfboard or to take on the steep learning curve to ride a shortboard.

There is no right choice when it come to surfboard type, whether you chose to ride a shortboard or longboard the end goal is to be more a competent and confident surfer.

Can a Beginner Ride a Shortboard?

While it's possible for a beginner to ride a shortboard, it's generally not recommended.

So the simple answer to can beginners ride a shortboard is, yes and no.

require more skill and experience to handle effectively, so beginners typically start with larger, more stable boards like longboards or funboards to learn the basics.

Should a Beginner Ride a Shortboard?

Surfing shortboards is often seen as the pinnacle of wave riding. The manoeuvrability, speed, and responsiveness of these boards make them a favourite among experienced surfers. But can beginners master the art of surfing on shortboards?

It's a question that many aspiring surfers have pondered. While it may seem daunting at first, with dedication, practice, and the right approach, beginners can indeed learn to ride shortboards successfully.

It will require patience and perseverance but rest assured that with time and effort invested in honing your skills, you will be able to experience the thrill of riding waves on a shortboard.

Why Should a Beginner Ride a Shortboard?

It's important for beginners to understand that transitioning from longboarding or other larger boards to shorter ones requires an adjustment period. Shortboards are typically narrower and more responsive than their longer counterparts which means they demand greater balance and control.

However, don't let this discourage you! Learning how to properly paddle into waves using efficient techniques like turtle rolls or duck dives while maintaining good body position will greatly aid your progression.

Tips When a Beginner Ride a Shortboard

One key aspect for aspiring shortboard riders is getting comfortable with positioning yourself correctly on the board before catching a wave - known as "popping up."

This technique involves transitioning smoothly from lying down flat on your board to standing up in one fluid motion once you've caught a wave. Mastering this skill takes time but practising popping up consistently both on land (dry land pop-ups) and in small waves will help develop muscle memory.

Another essential skill when it comes to surfing shortboards is understanding how weight distribution affects manoeuvrability while riding a wave.

Unlike longboards that offer stability through width alone, shorter boards rely heavily upon shifting your weight subtly between front foot pressure for acceleration or back foot pressure for control during turns—this allows you to generate speed through pumping along unbroken sections of the wave face.

While learning how to ride smaller boards might feel challenging initially due their increased sensitivity compared larger alternatives, it's important to remember that every surfer starts as a beginner and progresses at their own pace.

Embrace the learning process, take each wave as an opportunity to refine your technique and build confidence. Remember, even experienced surfers continue to learn and refine their skills on shortboards throughout their surfing journey.

So yes, beginners can indeed master the art of riding shortboards! While it may require time, patience, and commitment to develop the necessary skills for manoeuvring these boards effectively, with dedication anything is possible in the world of surfing.

Can a Beginner Ride a Shortboard: Challenges

When beginners venture into the world of shortboard surfing, they are faced with a unique set of challenges. One major hurdle is mastering the art of paddling efficiently.

Shortboards have less volume and are narrower than longboards, which makes it more difficult to paddle and catch waves. Beginners may find themselves struggling to generate enough speed to match the wave's energy and timing their take-off correctly.

Another challenge for beginners on shortboards is finding balance while riding smaller, more manoeuvrable boards. The reduced stability requires surfers to have better body control and weight distribution. It can be frustrating at first as riders often struggle to maintain balance while performing turns or manoeuvres on such a sensitive board.

Furthermore, learning how to navigate crowded lineups poses another obstacle for beginners on shortboards. As these boards allow for quicker movements, new surfers must not only focus on catching waves but also avoid colliding with other surfers in the lineup who might be slower or less agile.

Overall, while there are certainly challenges that come with riding shortboards as a beginner surfer, it is important to remember that perseverance pays off!

Shortcut To Surf A Shortboard - Surfing Tips By Hydro Mind

The Benefits of Shortboards

Shortboards can offer a range of benefits for beginner surfers who are looking to progress their skills. One key advantage is the manoeuvrability and responsiveness that shortboards provide in the water.

With their smaller size and lighter weight, these boards allow beginners to easily carve turns and make quick adjustments while riding waves. This enhanced agility can help surfers develop better control over their board and improve their overall balance.

Additionally, shortboards offer increased speed compared to longer boards. Their streamlined shape allows them to glide effortlessly across the face of a wave, providing an exhilarating ride for beginners seeking a more dynamic surfing experience.

The increased speed also enables surfers to catch waves earlier, giving them more time on the wave itself.

Despite these advantages, it's important for beginner surfers to understand that mastering shortboard surfing requires dedication and practice.

Shorter boards tend to be less stable than longboards or foamies, which means they require more skill and technique from the rider. Balancing on a shorter board can be challenging at first but with perseverance and regular practice, beginners can gradually build up their core strength and stability.

It's worth noting that transitioning from a longboard or foamie to a shortboard may initially feel intimidating for some beginners due to its different characteristics in terms of paddling out into waves or positioning oneself correctly on the board before standing up.

Can a Beginner Ride a Shortboard: Pros & Cons


  • High manoeuvrability: Shortboards are designed for quick turns and responsive movements, allowing surfers to navigate waves with precision.
  • Increased speed: The streamlined shape of a shortboard enables surfers to generate greater speed, making it easier to catch fast-moving waves.
  • Ideal for advanced surfers: Shortboards are typically favoured by experienced surfers who have mastered the basics and are looking for a more challenging ride.
  • Better performance in hollow waves: The design of shortboards allows them to excel in barreling or hollow waves, providing an exhilarating experience for skilled riders.
  • Enhanced aerial manoeuvres: The lightweight nature of shortboards makes it easier to launch into the air and perform tricks like airs and rotations.
  • Versatility in wave conditions: While shortboards are primarily suited for powerful waves, they can also be used in smaller or mushier conditions with proper technique.


  • Steeper learning curve: Due to their smaller size and increased responsiveness, shortboards can be more difficult for beginners to control and balance on compared to longboards or funboards.
  • Limited stability: Shortboards offer less stability due to their reduced length, making it harder for novice surfers to maintain balance while paddling or riding a wave.
  • Challenging wave-catching ability: Catching waves on a shortboard requires precise timing and positioning since they have less buoyancy compared to larger boards.
  • Less forgiving on mistakes: Mistakes in technique or positioning can result in wipeouts or missed opportunities on a shortboard, requiring more skillful recovery.
  • Physical demands: Riding a shortboard requires higher levels of fitness and strength as it involves more paddling power and core stability during manoeuvres.
  • Reduced wave count: Given the technical nature of riding a shortboard, beginners may experience fewer successful rides compared to using more forgiving boards.

Shortboard Beginner Techniques

One of the key techniques that can help beginners master shortboard surfing is mastering the art of paddling.

Paddling efficiently and effectively is crucial in order to catch waves and maintain balance on a shorter board. It's important to position yourself correctly on the board, using your arms and core strength to propel yourself through the water with each stroke.

Additionally, having good body positioning while paddling will allow you to generate more power when catching waves, giving you an advantage when it comes time to pop up and ride.

Another technique that beginners should focus on is improving their speed generation while riding a shortboard. Shortboards are known for their manoeuvrability but require more effort from the surfer in generating speed compared to longboards or funboards.

Learning how to pump your legs along with shifting your weight forward/backward on the board will help create momentum needed for those faster sections or smaller waves where speed may be lacking.

Foot placement plays a vital role in shortboarding as well. Beginners often struggle with finding their sweet spot on a shorter surfboard due its reduced surface area compared to larger boards they might be accustomed to. Placing your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart allows for increased stability while still maintaining control over turns and manoeuvres during rides.

Experimenting with different foot positions can also provide insights into which stance works best given individual preferences, wave conditions or even skill level at any given session.

Timing is another critical aspect when learning how to master shortboard surfing as beginner surfers need to learn to understand timing sets paddle out position take-off spotting potential lines-upcoming section helps anticipate where make adjustments necessary navigate across face wave optimise opportunities perform desired moves required maximise performance!

Shortboard Surfing Mastery!

Surfing TechniqueDescriptionTipsCommon Mistakes
PaddlingProper paddling technique is crucial for catching waves efficiently.- Keep your body streamlined\n- Use your arms and shoulders to generate power\n- Maintain a strong core- Paddling with only your arms\n- Lifting your head too high while paddling\n- Not using your legs for added power
Pop-upThe pop-up is the quick movement from lying on the board to standing up.- Place your hands under your chest\n- Push up with your arms while simultaneously bringing your back foot forward\n- Land with your feet shoulder-width apart- Using your knees to stand up\n- Placing your hands too far forward or backward\n- Not landing with your feet in the correct position
Bottom TurnA bottom turn helps you generate speed and set up for manoeuvres.- Shift your weight to your back foot\n- Extend your front arm for balance\n- Drive your back foot into the wave face to initiate the turn- Not shifting your weight properly\n- Turning too early or too late\n- Failing to drive your back foot into the wave face
CutbackA cutback involves redirecting your board back towards the breaking part of the wave.- Look where you want to go\n- Shift your weight to your front foot\n- Use your upper body to initiate the turn- Looking down at your board\n- Not shifting your weight correctly\n- Over-rotating the turn
Duck DiveDuck diving allows you to navigate through breaking waves while maintaining control of your board.- Paddle towards the wave with speed\n- Push the nose of your board down as you reach the wave\n- Use your knee and body weight to submerge the board- Not generating enough speed\n- Pushing the nose down too early or too late\n- Failing to use your body weight effectively
Tube RidingRiding inside a barrel is the ultimate goal for many surfers.- Position yourself correctly in the wave\n- Maintain a low stance\n- Focus on your line and anticipate the exit- Being too deep in the barrel\n- Standing too upright\n- Not anticipating the exit properly

Choosing the Right Shortboard

Choosing the right shortboard for beginners can be a daunting task. With so many different shapes, sizes, and designs available, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. However, there are a few key factors that can help guide your decision. First and foremost is finding a board with enough volume to provide stability and buoyancy for learning on smaller waves, read more on the topic here.

A wider outline and thicker rails will also contribute to easier paddling and better balance when you're first starting out.

Additionally, consider the rocker profile of the board - flatter rockers tend to be more forgiving for beginners as they generate speed more easily. It's important to find a board that suits your skill level and wave conditions while still allowing room for progression as you improve your surfing abilities.

When choosing a shortboard as a beginner surfer, it's essential to strike the right balance between performance characteristics and user-friendly features.

While traditional high-performance shortboards may offer incredible manoeuvrability in experienced hands, they often come with steep learning curves that can frustrate novice surfers. Look for boards labelled "beginner" or "hybrid" models which typically have slightly wider noses and tails than standard high-performance shortboards.

The length of the board is another crucial aspect when selecting a shortboard as a beginner surfer. The general rule is that shorter boards are more challenging to ride due to their reduced stability but offer increased manoeuvrability once mastered.

It's recommended that beginners opt for boards around 6-8 feet long initially before gradually progressing towards shorter lengths.

A common misconception about riding shortboards as beginners is that only experts can handle them effectively. While it's true that mastering these nimble craft requires time, determination and practice,it doesn't mean newcomers should shy away from trying.

Shortboarding offers an exciting challenge,and by adapting certain techniques, newcomers can indeed learn how-to carve small waves gracefully. Among other things,balance,paddle power,speed generation,and proper foot placement play vital roles in shortboarding success.

Learning to ride a shortboard as a beginner can be both frustrating and rewarding. It takes time, practice, and patience to develop the necessary skills and confidence needed to catch waves and manoeuvre on a smaller board.

You can purchase starter shortboards from many surf shops in various sizes and shapes in your local area.

Summing It Up: What To Do Now

Now you can make an educated and informed decision. Whether you pick shortboard or longboard keep the same goal in mind of becoming the best surfer you can be.

There is no right or wrong, but do remember the shortboard offers a larger learning curve dependent on wave type. In need of a fin repair, ensure you know how much it costs to repair a surfboard fin.

If your interested in learning more about surfing discover our many guides that will inform you on your surfing journey. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook & Instagram to stay informed on our amazing surf shots and stories shared from surf creators around the world!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a beginner ride a shortboard?

While beginners can technically use shortboards, it's more challenging due to the board's smaller size and greater maneuverability demands, making it less suitable for those learning to surf.

Are shorter surfboards harder to ride?

Shorter surfboards can be more challenging to ride, especially for beginners, as they require better balance, wave-catching ability, and advanced surfing skills.

Are shortboards harder to paddle?

Shortboards are generally harder to paddle because of their reduced length and volume, which means less buoyancy and paddle efficiency compared to longer boards.

When should I start riding a shortboard?

Riding a shortboard is typically a progression from longer boards, and it's recommended to transition to a shortboard after gaining sufficient experience and skill with larger boards.

Is it harder to catch waves on a shortboard?

Catching waves on a shortboard can be more challenging because they have less volume, which affects stability and paddle power, making wave-catching less forgiving.

Is 17 too late to start surfing?

No, 17 is not too late to start surfing. Many people begin their surfing journey later in life, and with dedication and practice, you can still become a skilled surfer at 17 or any age.

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