People often wonder whether they should take a private surf lesson or a group lesson. Typically there is not much difference between the two. A surf school will teach their private lessons pretty much in the same way they teach a group lesson. The real difference among surf schools is in the student to instructor ratio of those group lessons. This ratio plays a major role in determining whether or not a student receives the assistance or attention from a surf instructor that is required to ensure the student’s safety and development as a surfer.
Private Surf Lessons
As with any private class or lesson, a private surf lesson will provide a student with the surf instructor’s undivided attention. In terms of safety, this is the best possible scenario for a student. Students with no previous experience can get a lot out of private lessons; however, the drawback is that private surfing lessons are more expensive.
Students who are past the beginner stage, that have either taken surf lessons and/or have the ability to catch a wave and stand up can also benefit from private surf lessons, or surf coaching. At this point in the learning process a student will look to begin to try performing basic surfing maneuvers such as carves, cut-backs, and generating down-the-line speed. Having some one-on-one surf instruction can provide a student with the personalized attention to help him or her progress quickly.
Group Surfing Lessons
Group surf lessons are the most popular, probably because it’s a great activity to take up with friends and/or family. A group lesson is great for individuals who have absolutely no experience or perhaps one or two previous lessons but did not continue practicing and need a refresher course before getting back out in the water.
The important thing to keep in mind when looking into enrolling in a group surf lesson is that the surf school enforce a reasonable student to instructor ratio in order to assure the safety of its students.
What is a reasonable group size for surf lessons? The International Surfing Association, the world governing body for the sport of surfing, requires it’s registered surf schools to enforce a maximum ratio of 8 students per 1 instructor. At Bodhi Surf School in Costa Rica we maintain a ratio of 5 students per 1 instructor in order to provide the best instruction possible.
Multi-day Surf Clinics
A third option for individuals learning to surf is to enroll in a multi-day surf clinic. Surf clinics are generally geared towards both beginner and intermediate surfers and their goal is to maximize a student’s time in the water. Surfing clinics are a good option for absolute beginners because it provides ample time for beach instruction and maximizes their time in the water of the course of a few days. After a multi-day surfing clinic, an individual who had no previous experience is typically able to surf independently and have a solid foundation to continue building on.
Because surf clinics look to maximize water time for students, they are ideal for beginners who have taken a few lessons and know how to stand up but are in need of significant time in the water. The only way to truly improve at surfing once you have the basic techniques for paddling, catching waves, and standing up, is to spend hours upon hours in the water, catching wave after wave.