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  • Writer's pictureAllannah

Why Can't I Catch Unbroken Waves?

Feeling disheartened and struggling to catch anything? Or do you find yourself nosediving all the time?

women's surf courses in Newquay Cornwall

Going for it! / Photo Bella Bunce

Catching unbroken waves consistently requires practice and lots of patience. Perseverance is essential— or in other words, you need to be stubborn - but it's worth it!

We specialize in open-face riding. Here are some of our top tips to get you on those open faces!

Common Mistakes:

  • Sitting too far out

  • Sitting in the impact zone

  • Using a board that is too big or too small for your level

  • Paddling too late or too early

  • Not paddling hard enough

  • Poor positioning when lying on the board

  • Hesitation or fear of nose diving

Check The Wave When You're Paddling

Ask yourself what stage of breaking the wave is at. Is it looking steep? Is it looking soft?

Look over your shoulder every 2-3 strokes to see how the water is forming.

If you find that you're missing a lot of waves, try sitting a few meters closer to the shore. If most of the waves are breaking on you, sit further out.

We want to catch the wave between stages 2 & 3.

How to catch unbroken waves surf course

Weight Distribution

We want to catch a green wave as early as possible so it doesn't become too steep.

When we watch the wave, we adjust our weight distribution and paddling technique accordingly.

  • Too Steep / Closing Out: Arch your back and get ready for a quick take-off. Use slower paddles or prepare for an emergency stop.

  • Looking Soft: Paddle harder, chin down, legs up. Push your weight forward towards the nose for more momentum.

Surf courses for women how to catch green waves

Steep Wave: Head up, arch back, legs down Soft Wave: Chin down, legs up, weight forward

The Final Stage

A common issue we see is people paddling too hard for waves. When it's time for that final burst of speed just before catching the wave, their arms are exhausted, making it difficult to have the energy needed to pop up.

When you feel the wave lifting your tail, try lifting your chin and dropping your legs. This allows you to thrust your legs forward for an extra boost as you glide into the top half of the wave, helping you catch the wave earlier. This approach also gives you momentum for your pop-up, allowing you to work with the wave's gravity.

The goal is to glide smoothly into the wave, avoiding the sensation of air under the nose of your board as you catch it. 

This stage requires endurance and strength, so if you don't get to surf consistently, it's beneficial to do some training on land.

Can you see the extra push before gliding in?

Commit, You Got This!

It’s all trial and error. You'll experience hundreds of nose dives and miss just as many waves, but the only way to master the timing is to keep getting back on the horse. 

Continuously observe the wave as you paddle into it, paying close attention to its shape and behaviour, this is how you will start to instinctively change your paddle speed and shift your weight.

Be kind to yourself; this stage is difficult to master and can take years, from personal experience (because I've been there!), I can tell you it's worth it.

Nothing compares to those incredible moments when everything clicks, and you start catching your first unbroken waves!


For more, check out our Improver courses, where we cover all the fundamentals and foundations for successfully catching green waves.

See you out there!



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