falling correctly when surfing

How to wipe out without hurting yourself?

We all know that wipeouts are an inevitable part of surfing. Check out our tips on how to fall in safety, for you and for others.

Let's just clear one thing up to start with: Avoiding "wipeouts" when surfing is almost impossible! So you might as well do what you can to make them less painful and, most importantly, always surf as safely as possible. This surfing guide gives you some tips on how to prepare for your wipeouts!

1/ Analyse the different surfing wipeouts

In addition to giving you a good scare, a wipeout when surfing can be dangerous not only for you but also for other surfers.

Being able to identify the risks will help you to react well if you find yourself in a critical situation. Here are some of the main risks to try to avoid during a wipeout:

  • surfing wipeouts

    Wipe out onto your equipment 

    The tail, fins and rails are the most dangerous parts of your surfboard in the event of a collision. Wear a helmet!

  • collision between surfers

    Colliding with another surfer

    If there are lots of people in the water, watch out for your surfboard and particularly for other people's. There is a high risk of collision. Keep your distance!

  • washing machine

    The washing machine

    Depending on the size and power of the wave, you could get thrown towards the seabed and shaken around in all directions in the ""washing machine"". Stay calm...

2/ How to see the fall coming

Wipeouts are often due to a lack of concentration during take-off.

When paddling, you may find that when you stand up on the board, you are already at the top of the lip, ready to fall off. The wave may have quickly hollowed out and suddenly become very steep.

Maybe you started too late! In this case, it is better to go back to square one to avoid any damage.

You will quickly realise how important it is to analyse the waves at a spot before you go for it. Don't feel stressed: making mistakes is how you learn and improve!

How to wipe out (properly)

3/ How to wipe out safely

Is the wipeout unavoidable? Dive in before it's too late!

This will keep you in control of this tricky situation, because going with the flow is never a good idea when it comes to wipeouts… But how should you dive?

The surface dive: on a shallow-water wave, dive flat, but not head first otherwise you might get to know the seabed very quickly!

The deep dive: on an imposing and powerful wave out at sea, dive deep to escape the force of the wave and avoid being thrown around too much;

The belly flop in broken waves: on a rocky or coral bottom, try to fall flat, and remember not to push off with your feet to get to the surface if you do touch the bottom.

4/ Good habits during a wipeout

Was the fall unavoidable? Here are some good habits to get into, so that your time underwater goes without a hitch.

— When you fall, protect your head with your hands;

— If you are not too sure of yourself, and to prevent your board from hitting other surfers (hoping that they will do the same!), try to find an open area to throw yourself in!

— Dive, then swim underwater until the wave has passed;

— Do not panic underwater, even if you are disoriented from being in a spin cycle! Stay calm and think of something nice (your last holiday, your favourite cake, etc.) to help you hold your breath;

— Keep your eyes open so that you can see what is going on. In this way, you will be able to see the bottom, the surface or your board;

- Pull on your leash and/or look for light in order to return to the surface in peace of mind.

5/ Our five tips to prevent wipeouts

There are, however, some "preventive" actions that can reduce the risk of wiping out. Here are five tips to keep in mind once in the water:

1 — Get off the wave when you see that it is closing out. Lie on the back of the board while keeping the front out of the water. You will then be able to ride the foam and glide out of the impact zone;

2 — Carefully observe the spot and the wave formation before entering the water;

3 — Do not surf waves that are too big for your level of proficiency;

4 — Get out of the water when you feel tired;

5 — Stay focused and hydrate yourself to avoid injury.


6/ One step further: breath training

Big-wave surfers tend to do special breathing training. A wipeout on one of these monsters means they are forced to spend more than 30 seconds underwater!

To be more at ease and more confident in these sometimes nerve-racking moments, taking some lessons and improving your breathing capacity can be a great help. Even for an intermediate-level surfer.

You have seen how important it is to have a good understanding of the spot you are going to surf in. Knowing how much water is under your feet or knowing what is on the seabed will help you to wipe out better when surfing, without hurting yourself.

Don't feel stressed: wipeouts are a frequent occurrence when surfing. Don't let them put you off. Especially now that you now know "how" to wipe out thanks to this guide!

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