As a parent, it is sometimes difficult to know the right time to start your child in a new sport or activity. Surfing is a unique sport because participants need to be competent swimmers and strong enough to control their surfboard.
I was speaking to a parent the other day and I was asked, “What is the Best Age for Kids to Start Surfing?”
I spoke with a bunch of surf stoked moms and dads, did a bit of research and summarized the information in this post.
The best time to start your kids in the sport of surfing will depend on their interest level, physical strength and swimming ability. For most kids, 8-10 years old is a great time to start surfing because they will have the ability to catch waves on their own.
Keep reading to learn all the tips and tricks to The Best Age to Start Your Kids Surfing!
What is The Best Age to Start to Start Kids Surfing?
The best age to start your kids surfing is about 8-10 years of age when they can paddle and catch waves on their own.
Most kids under the age of 8 don’t have the strength to control a surfboard on their own. As well, giving kids time to develop strong swimming skills will help increase their comfort in the water.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t expose them to the sport of surfing when they are younger by playing at the beach, bodyboarding or even taking a surfing lesson together, but keep expectations in check and this will help keep it fun for you and your child.
Kids progress by developing skills through many hours of experience and repetition. Think of a surf beach like 4 different developmental areas for your child.
- The Beach – At first, kids just want to play on the beach. Experience is developed by playing games, running around, making sand castles and exploring tide pools. Kids may not even want to go in the water at first.
- Shore Break. – The shore break is the area where small waves break onto the shore. Most kids start to build their comfort level by dipping their toes in the water, running away from waves and playing on a bodyboard.
- Beginner Waves – Is the area where small waves break in shallow water. Most kids will first learn to catch waves by getting pushed into waves by a parent or instructor. As young surfers progress, they will be able to catch waves on their own.
- Main Break – the main break is the area where surfers sit outside the breaking waves. Before venturing out to this area on their own, young surfers should have many years of experience and strong swimming skills.
It is important to point out that your child’s development will come down to experience and comfort level.
The ocean can be scary and intimidating and it may take many years for your child to be comfortable enough to try surfing, no matter what age they start.
How Do You Get Your Child Interested in Surfing?
As a parent, I want my daughter to lead a healthy lifestyle and participate in outdoor sports and activities. Sports help children build confidence, meet friends and develop problem solving skills.
Selfishly, I hope my daughter wants to become a surfer someday just like her dad.
According to GoodHousekeeping.com, helping your child find their passion can be challenging in the modern world especially with so many competing distractions, especially like cell phones and video games.
According to the article titled Help Your Kid Find Her Passion, the best way to encourage interest in sports and extra curricular activities includes the following strategies.
- Keep Trying – The learning process takes many different forms and kids may try something, quit and then come back to it at a later stage. This is perfectly normal so don’t expect your child to take to a sport like surfing right away.
- Search for a Spark – Kids will show you what interests them by their energy level for certain activities. Try not to push because you may be able to see what sparks their interest by asking questions, listening and watching what they do.
- Take it Slow – Kids are presented with so many opportunities at a young age, don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t take to something right away. In most surfing communities, young kids start out by playing at the beach for the first few years before they transition to a bodyboarding or surfing.
How Do Kids Develop Water Safety Skills for Surfing?
As a parent, water safety is my biggest concern because of the possibility of drowning.
Surfers must understand ocean hazards and develop the skills necessary to survive in the ocean.
The best way to help your child become comfortable around the water is to put your child in swimming or life saving lessons.
When I was in my early teens, my friend and I expressed an interest in becoming surfers. My mom recommended that we try and become lifeguards first to develop our swimming and life saving skills.
As we worked through the various swimming badges, we began to improve our skills, became stronger surfers and developed the skills to save ourselves and others.
If you haven’t been sufficiently motivated to support your child’s swimming development, this is your kick in the pants to start.
If you want your child to become a surfer, at some point they will be presented with a situation that requires them to save themselves from a sticky situation or have to save someone else from drowning.
In Australia, Surf Life Saving Programs are very popular. The kids program, called Nippers, has memberships of 50,000 kids between 5-14 years of age. Nippers uses water based activities to teach beach related skills and life saving.
In the USA and Canada, traditional swimming lessons are the most common way for kids to develop swimming and life saving skills. According to USA Swimming and the Canadian Red Cross, kids can start proper swimming lessons at 4-5 years of age.
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