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Sport Spotlight

Tips for outdoor recreation and outdoor sportsOutdoor Sport Spotlight

Wild or mild outdoor sports and recreation are a passion of the camping.com editors.  Here we profile different sports and outdoor recreation activities.  We'll give you tips on getting started, tell you about the great places for outdoor sports and show you what gear you need to be comfortable in all conditions.  So whether you're a seasoned outdoor sports enthusiast or a enthusiastic beginner we have tips and advice to make the most of your outdoor recreation passion.

Surfing Safari

Lovers of water sports will find a new and exhilarating way to enjoy the water in the sport of surfing.

The next time you visit an ocean spot with decent waves, find a good instructor and a good board and and launch yourself into this exciting sport. You can find places all around the United States to surf. Expert surfers travel the world to tackle some of the world's greatest waves.

Most surfing takes place on the ocean, but you can also find places in fresh water to ride some waves. As surfing has evolved, there have been increasing permutations to the sport. Now you can try bodyboarding or bodysurfing, windsurfing or kiteboarding, longboarding, shortboarding or even tow-in surfing.

As in all water sports, beginning surfers need to be aware of water safety. First, you need to know how to swim and be confident enough to swim in the open ocean. In the unlikely event that something were to happen and you lost your board, you would have to be able to swim to safety. Second, you need to familiarize yourself with the potential dangers of the ocean. You'll need to understand local currents, tides, underwater terrain, wave behavior, and how the weather can affect the conditions. All of these things are essential to your safety when you take up surfing.

Beginning surfers need to pick out the right starting board. Surfboards come in all sizes and makes. You can rent a board or buy a used or new board. A beginner may want to invest in a used board, as they are cheaper (beginners can do a lot of damage to their first board). You should select your board based on your own size and weight. Smaller people will use a slightly smaller board. A beginner shouldn't choose a shortboard as their first board, since these boards are more unstable and much more difficult for a beginner to learn to use. Once you master your larger board, you can downsize.

The best way to learn to surf is to take lessons. In some of the more prominent surfing spots you will find surf schools. There, instructors will take you to an appropriate spot where they can teach you the basic surfing maneuvers.

The first skill you need to learn is the surfing popup. This is the maneuver in which you pop up from lying prone on the board. Basically, you place your hands flat on the board near your ribcage, and then you lift your chest off the board, leaving your pelvis and legs on the board. Bringing your front foot forward follows this partial push-up.  Place this foot at about the same place as your hands and let your back foot follow your front.

After you have practiced the popup on dry land, you are ready to take your board into the water. First, you should practice catching and riding waves on your belly. This will familiarize you with the waves and your board. After you are used to riding on your belly, you need to learn to stand up on your board, using the popup maneuver you practiced on land. Beginning surfers also need to learn how to paddle. Once you have learned these skills you are ready to catch and ride your first real wave.

As you gain experience, you can find new places to ride bigger waves. Hawaii and California have many amazing surfing locations for surfers of all levels. You will learn all sorts of new and increasingly complex surfing moves. You will also open yourself to the entire culture of surfing.  If you really want to devote yourself to surfing, you can compete in surfing competitions all over the world.

No matter how experienced or serious you are about surfing, you will always have an amazing way to enjoy the power of the ocean once you learn the sport. Surfing will open a whole new world for you. So, grab a board and start practicing popups.
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