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Professional surfers get the most out of every ride – even those that end in a less than graceful way. The secret lies in knowing how to wipe out properly and then taking a moment to evaluate mistakes.

The Pros understand that a gnarly wipe out is part of the learning process. Hawaiian big-wave surfer Kohl Christenson explains, “I always figure that I’m going to eat it or get caught inside at least once during a big-wave session. If I don’t then I feel like I got really lucky or I wasn’t pushing it hard enough.”

Avoid injuries and get back on your board faster with these easy to follow tips:

1. Jump Back

Use your last moment of balance to jump off the board. Jump over the wave into whitewater or towards the wave off the back of your board. Never jump off the front of your surfboard as the wave could push it right towards you.


When jumping off your board into shallow water, try to land butt first with your legs up to avoid injury.

2. Protect Your Body

When jumping into shallow water, the best strategy is to land butt first and keep your legs up. This will help keep your head and ankles out of harms way. Keep an eye out for incoming surfers or boards and get low in the water to avoid the impact of the wave.

3. Relax

Once you’re in the water, you may get tumbled by the force of the passing waves. Cover your head, hold your breath, and let the wave roll past you. If the water is clear, you may even open your eyes to keep a lookout for rocks.

4. Come Up Slow

Come up slowly with one hand extended overhead. This will help you avoid bumping your head on floating surfboards and allow other surfers to spot you. Watch for fellow surfers, stray boards (including your own), and other obstacles when popping up for air.

5.  Retrieve Your Board

Swim to your surfboard or use your leash to pull it towards you. Climb onto the board and paddle into the safe zone. Once you’re clear of the active surfing zone, you should take a moment to think about what caused you to wipe out and how you can improve.

Wiping out is part of the learning process. These 5 simple steps can help you stay safe while surfing. And remember, to get the most out of each surf session be aware of what caused you to lose balance in the first place.

For more wipe out fun, take a moment to check out these 10 gnarly surf wipe outs.

Kohl Christensen Surf Quote

Stay safe and happy surfing!