Getting Used To A New Surfboard (How Long & How To Get Used)

Walking through a surf shop and looking in awe at all the different board sizes and shapes makes many surfers feel like kids in a candy store. Most surfers start on a soft-top, then make the transfer to a hardtop, and then move on to more performance types of surfboards. But how do you get used to all these different surfboards?

To gain confidence and control on your new surfboard, it helps to start by doing some basic maneuvers. It can take some time to get used to your new surfboard, especially when your new board is different from your previous surfboard.

Knowing how to get used to a new surfboard will make the transfer more fun and possibly save you from wrecking your new surfboard. This article will point out a few different ways to make the transfer easier and more enjoyable.

How do You Get Used to a New Surfboard?

Getting used to a new surfboard takes time. The more time you spend on it, the better you’ll understand it. Try to start slow, performing some basic turns and maneuvers to get the feeling of your board. Don’t get frustrated, and don’t write the board off if it doesn’t go perfectly straight away.

Getting used to a new surfboard can turn out to be more difficult than expected.

Some people tend to get frustrated because they can’t straight away and surf at the level which they’re used to.

But blaming your surfboard makes no sense because you can eventually surf any surfboard with enough practice.

Types of surfboards

To learn how to get used to a new surfboard, you should first know the different main types of surfboards.

Getting used to a new surfboard from the same category as your last surfboard is a lot easier than getting used to a new surfboard from a different category.

Soft tops:

Soft tops are the first type of surfboard on which people learn how to surf.

Due to the soft deck and the soft fins of a soft top, the surfer has less chance of getting hurt by the board.

Soft tops are generally used in whitewater. In addition, soft tops are very stable and have a lot of buoyancy. This makes it easier to paddle into waves and perform a push-up.

Surf instructor teaching a kid how to surf


Minimal, also known as funboards, are the equivalent of a soft top, but with a hard deck. The shape is similar to a longboard (the width at the nose is almost the same as by the tail).

However, a longboard is 8ft and more, but a minimum is between 7 and 8 ft. The rail is thinner than a soft top, and the board is easier to turn and maneuver along with the wave.

Once a beginner has learned how to do a push-up on a soft top, the minimal is a great board to learn the next few steps. 

But be aware, it does depend on the rider’s length and weight. A minimal might be too big for a small kid to progress on after switching from a soft top.

Minimal or funboards standing on the beach


Longboards are generally between 8 and 11ft. The first-ever surfboards were longboards, and it’s a different style of surfing compared to shortboard surfing.

Most longboards come with one (big) fin, but some have a double or triplefin set. Longboards have little to no rocker (the bottom curve), have lots of buoyancy, and a wide nose.

They excel in small waves and are easy to paddle with. However, there are beginner and high-performance longboards.

While paddling with a longboard is relatively easy, becoming a good longboard surfer takes time and is just as hard as becoming a good shortboard surfer.

Surfer with a longboard


Shortboards come in all different types and shapes, but they’re all less than 7ft in length.

Shortboards have less buoyancy, making it harder to paddle. But they enable you to duck dive (a technique to get behind the break zone by diving under the wave with your board).

Most of them come with three fins, but there are also twin fin and quad fin setups.

Shortboards are quick to react when making slight movements with your body. Compared to longboards, or funboards, shortboards turn quickly and with more ease.

It’s possible to do aerials and more aggressive turns. Surfing a shortboard takes lots of practice, and you need to have already learned the basics on any of the previous boards.

Girl with a shortboard

Tips for getting used to a new surfboard

Now that we know the main surfboard categories, it’ll be easier to understand why getting used to your new surfboard is difficult or relatively easy.

The best thing you can do to get used to your new surfboard is to start at the basics and understand your board.

Different boards have different lineups:

While a longboard surfer can catch waves quite far out, a shortboard surfer will have to be closer to the breakpoint.

If you understand your board, you’ll have an easier time positioning yourself at the right spot.

Paddle around for a bit:

Paddling around on your new surfboard will help you understand how far forward or backward you should lay on your board.

It also allows you to get a feeling of its balance.

Spend some time doing basic maneuvers:

Give yourself some time doing basic maneuvers like a bottom turn, top turn, pumping, and cutbacks.

This will help you understand how your new board reacts to your body movements.

However, trying too much, too quick, can be demotivating and possibly result in a new, broken surfboard.

Try surfing some less crowded spots at first:

By surfing less crowded spots, you increase the number of waves you can surf, so you’ll get more board time.

It also decreases the chance of you crashing into someone else because you’re still getting used to the board.

Give yourself time and have fun:

Although it can be frustrating sometimes when you feel like you’re back at the beginning, just because you surf a different board, it could be fun too.

Give yourself a few good surf sessions to get the feeling of your board! Realize that it takes practice and just have some fun while practicing!

Just remember, you’re out there to have fun.

How Long Does it Take to Get Used to a New Surfboard?

The short answer:

The amount of time it takes to get used to a new surfboard depends on the surfer, their skill, what type of surfboard the new surfboard is, and what type of surfboard the old surfboard was.

The extended answer:

While some people adapt very quickly, others need a bit more time.

The amount of time it takes to get used to a new surfboard is not a clear and easy answer. Although, certain variables influence the amount of time it might cost.

The surfer:

First is the surfer. If the surfer has a garage full of different types of surfboards or somehow gets to ride different kinds of surfboards all the time, they will get used more quickly to a new surfboard.

That said, there are also these people who somehow have an amazing sense of board control and understand and get used to a new board a lot quicker than your average Joe.

Skill level:

Secondly, there is the skill level of the surfer. An intermediate or advanced surfer will have more knowledge about surfboards.

Therefore, the surfer will better understand their new surfboard.

They’ll also have a better sense of balance and surfing in general.

For example, for a beginning surfer to make the transfer from a funboard to a shortboard will be way more difficult than for an advanced longboard surfer to transfer to a shortboard.


Then there is the amount of time spent surfing on it.

If you have a new surfboard but only surf it once or twice per month, getting used to it will most likely cost you a lot of time.

The best thing to get used to it quickly is to surf it a few times per week. This way, your muscles will remember how your board reacts, and you’ll be quicker to control it.

Difference between boards:

Last but not least is the difference between the old and the new surfboard. As I stated before in this article, there are many different types of surfboards.

Switching from one type of shortboard to another can be difficult. Still, it will be a lot easier than changing from a longboard to a shortboard. The same thing goes the other way around too.

So, how long can you expect?

This said, for an intermediate or advanced surfer to get used to their new board, it often takes a few surf sessions.

However, give yourself some time when you’re a beginning surfer, and you just made the transfer from a funboard to a longboard or a shortboard!

You only just started to learn the basic maneuvers, and you have lots more fun ahead of you. It can take months or years to really rip those waves.


Getting used to your first real surfboard (after riding a soft top or funboard) can be frustrating and might take some time.

However, the more experience you get and the more surfboards you’ve been riding, the quicker you’ll get used to a new surfboard.

Therefore, it’s helpful to repeat the basics once you’re riding your new board and slowly surf yourself back to your previous level of surfing.

Marcus Campbell

Surfing is the biggest passion in my life. Transferring my knowledge about surfing to others is what I love doing most! I do this through my own surf school and through my articles on this website. This is how I hope to get everyone excited about this amazing sport!
January 18, 2022
Published: January 18, 2022