One of the most important aspects of surfing is knowing where to be, and when to be there. Countless times have I seen a beginner out there paddle for a wave—no wait, look back and stare at a wave without moving from one spot. THEN come the paddles. But only straight for the beach. Then either they miss the wave, or they get dumped on and get wrecked or go over the falls. I also see surfers that chase their peaks, but don’t chase them early enough, or hard enough.

Our main goal is to teach you how to find and attack the peak of each wave. Start by checking the water through a couple of sets before you go out at all, and watch for patterns. See where most of the peaks on your waves that day tend to be. Then once you paddle out past the break, go to the spot you were watching from the beach. Then remember when you see a wave to check for the peak. Paddle toward the peak; you’re allowed to travel horizontal, not just vertical, in the water.
You can never practice watching for peaks enough, because no matter how good you get, there are always new breaks where you’re not familiar with your waves and their shapes. Plus, it’s something you do every session. Chase your peaks, because good surf won’t come to you. You gotta go to good surf.

Written by Learn To Surf instructor, Jake McNulty.
Follow Jake on Instagram!