Surfing is a popular summer water sport which involves riding on waves on a lightweight fibreglass board, known as a surfboard.
The sport of surfing as it is known today originated in Hawaii before the 15th century and was introduced to the rest of the world in the mid 20th century.
In the intervening years surfing has grown in popularity with many surf clubs and surfing leagues currently active throughout Australia. Surfing has become an integral part of Australian culture and learning to surf is considered a rite of passage for many Australian kids.
A video of Surfing for Kids
Information on Surfing for Kids in Australia
Is surfing for your kid(s)?
Learning to surf can benefit children in many ways, that's what makes it one of the most popular kids' activities in Australia, including:
- Increased confidence
- Improved health and fitness, and especially breathing, muscular endurance and back strength
- Lifesaving water safety skills
- Improved balance
- Interest in weather conditions: being able to read and understand weather forecasts (swell size and orientation, wind force and orientation, tides) and being able to determine the level of safety of their environment.
- Awareness of the outdoors and enjoyment of the outdoors, especially the ocean
- Social skills, dealing with and meeting other surfers in the local surf
Surfing lessonsare equally suitable for boys and girls. Surf instruction usually starts at around age 6 for beginners. For safety reasons it is obviously better to get your child to learn how to swim correctly before taking him or her to surfing lessons. You may need to check out swimming lessons in your area in the ActiveActivities directory.
Get your kids started!
Many families introduce their kids to the surf by purchasing a small cheap boogie (body board) or surfboard and letting them try it out at the local beach. This is a relatively inexpensive way to give your children the opportunity to try surfing and can be a lot of fun, although parents need to ensrue they supervise their children constantly while in the surf.
Some parents opt for more formal surfing tuition. Surfingschools offer group lessons and holiday programmes for children aged 6 and above. These programmes usually provide coaching from professional Australian surfers and can be a great way for kids to learn to surf in a safe and well supervised environment.
For younger kids or if you want more of a one on one surf experience for your child, individual tuition can be usually arranged through your local surf school or club. Costs for surfing lessons can vary considerably but you can generally expect to pay around $30 - $50 for a two hour group session and $100 for a private lesson, including equipment.
Essential equipment such as a surfboard, wetsuits and rash vests are usually provided by your surf school or are available to hire. The types of boards on offer differ widely and it is advisable to get professional advice before deciding which size would be most suitable for your child. The two main options for surfboards include:
- Long boards - generally considered the best for beginners as the thickness and length provide more stability and make it easy to catch waves.
- Short boards - suitable for experienced surfers as they are faster and more manoeuvrable.
- Foam Boards: Both of the above are available as Foam Boards. It is generally recommended for children who are just beginning to surf to use a foam board. This is a safety measure. Our childrens heads are soft and precious we do not want their heads connecting with hard surfboards, which could cause major injury.
There are a number of variants of each type of surf board which are generally considered more suitable for experienced surfers. If your child is just starting out they will probably be most suited to a basic long board.
Although surf lessons generally take place in a sheltered area of the beach, once your child has progressed from the beginner stage they might want to surf in more challenging conditions such as sandbanks, breaks or bigger waves.
There are a number of safety considerations that parents should be aware of, particularly if they are teaching their children to surf. Certain tidal patterns and features can make the surf extremely dangerous including:
- Rocks under the surface
- Changing weather conditions
It is important to always be aware of the flags and listen to any warnings or advice from surf lifesaving staff. With proper supervision and plenty of common sense your child can enjoy this great summer sport with the minimum of danger.
Stars and Events not to be missed!
Australia is home to some of the world's premier surfing champions including Mark Occhilupo and Layne Beachley. International surf tournaments take place on many beaches between November and April with the main one being the World Qualifying Series which starts in February and goes through to April at a number of stunning locations throughout Australia.