Jose teaching on the beach the importance of sup surf safety to a dad and daughter.

5 Levels of Learning to Paddleboard Surf

Levels of SUP Surf

The sport of SUPSurf is often referred to as paddleboard surfing. If you are getting involved enough in the sport to know the different levels then chances are you will refer to it as SUPSurf. 

When learning the different levels of SUPSurf just remember that the best SUPSurf is not directly related to the highest level. It is the SUPSurf that is having the most fun in the process!


Level 1:

The level 1 SUPSurfer has yet to successfully out alone and rides a wave cleanly. They need to learn ocean etiquette, accelerating, stalling, turning, and functional stance.

  • Goal: to become comfortable and confident in the ocean catching your first whitewater wave.
  • Skills:
    • Ocean etiquette as applied to current skill level
    • Powerful and fast starts, paddling into the wave
    • Foot mobility on the board
    • Transition to surf stance in motion
    • Paddling in transition stance


Level 2:

The Level 2 SUPSurfer can successfully paddle out alone at a familiar location and catch whitewater waves.

  • Goal: Paddle out and catch a whitewater wave.
  • Skills: 
    • Paddle out foot position
    • Elevating the nose to paddle over the wave
    • Shifting weight on board to accelerate and stall
    • Functional surf stance


Level 3:

The level 3 SUP Surfer can successfully do a proper wipe-out and surf the wave’s green section. They begin to surf and catch the wave before it has broken and surf the face and ride the line.

  • Goal: Start to feel like a real SUPSurfer
  • Skills: 
    • ride the line
    • focus vision on the wave
    • position board for an angled take off
    • be able to execute a proper wipe-out
    • bottom turn 


Level 4:

The level 4 SUPSurfer, once out in the line up can do a successful pivot in both directions allowing them to increase their wave selection, use pumping to generate speed, ride high or low sections of the face the wave, and top turns.

  • Goals: Learn new areas of the wave and the ability to catch many more waves.
  • Skills: 
    • master the pivot
    • pumping for speed
    • ride top and bottom sections
    • top turn.


Level 5:

The Level 5 SUPSurfer can successfully execute forehand & backhand cutbacks, ride whitewater on top of the wave, and re-enter the wave.

  • Goal: Look and feel like a pro.
  • Skills: 
    • Ride whitewater on top of the wave
    • Forehand and backhand cutbacks
    • Re-entry to wave

If you are looking to master these levels, one of the top places on the planet is Nosara Costa Rica. The Tropical SUPSurf Academy offers camps with some of the best SUPSurf coaches sponsored by the top brands.

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