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Can Short People Surf? The Advantages of Short Surfers

Your height plays an important role in determining how good you are at surfing. The shorter you are, the more frequently you will have to adjust to constantly shifting waves. Moreover, surfing also requires short people to react to motion on all axis, making it a challenging task for them. Sometimes, people assume that short people lack these abilities, but is that true? 

Despite their size, short people can be exceptionally good surfers. Due to their lower center of gravity, surfers with a shorter height can have more balance and control over their surfboards in contrast to their taller peers. The most important thing is to pick a surfboard that suits your level.

Short people can utilize their height in multiple ways to gain the most out of surfing. With some minor tweaks in their technique and balance, their hidden potential can allow them to surf nearly any type of rideable wave. 

surfer kid and a skateboard on a pier

Advantages of Surfing if you are Short

There are numerous advantages associated with surfing if you’re short. Like being able to maintain yourself on a surfboard better, and ‘standing up’ in a barrel requires less effort.. No matter how tall you are, the most important is being strong, flexible, being able to bend your knees.

Because of their relatively short stature, small people have a lower center of gravity, which allows them to have a good balance and a stable foundation on a surfboard. Short people also find it easier to establish themselves on their toes while doing a hang-five on a surfboard. 

While this is technically true, surfers also benefit from a balanced life. A taller and fit surfer will have more balance compared to someone who is short and not too fit. It’s all pretty relative.

A shorter surfer might be able to go through barrels more easily than someone who is overweight. If both have the same knowledge and experience, the short surfer would have an advantage.

How To Surf If You Are Short

When starting out, short people can find surfing fairly easier as compared to people with a taller stature. However, that does not mean you can slack off in your training. Here are some tips that will help you improve as a surfer.

Maintain a Low Center of Gravity 

Maintaining a good balance on your board at all times is the key to becoming a good surfer. If you lose your balance while riding a wave, chances are that you may end up getting wiped out or, worst-case scenario, get injured.

Therefore, regardless of your height, you need to be able to maintain your center of gravity. You can achieve a good balance on your board by bending your body into a low, crouching stance, and pointing your shoulders in the direction you want to surf. 

Align your Feet and Hips

Another way you can maintain a low center of gravity is by properly aligning your feet and hips. 

To achieve this, start by either standing on your toes or by slightly bending your knees. Moreover, posture yourself in such a way that you are able to stretch a straight line from the top of your head to the center of your feet.

Keep in mind that both your head and hips should not protrude more than a few inches beyond your feet. Then, gradually return to your center, with both of your knees, until your body is in a straight line. 

Furthermore, if you’re short in stature, you need to make sure your hips are properly balanced, or else you will sway more frequently while you are riding a wave. You can achieve this by turning your elbow along with your knees at the same time while you are surfing.

This drill will help you in developing a proper stance that will ensure that your weight is well distributed and properly aligned to the upper half of your body,  allowing you to surf more effectively.

Stay Calm and Breathe Properly

Once you have balanced yourself, make sure you are breathing properly and consistently. Otherwise, you might end up losing your balance and composure when a wave starts to break out on you. It’s important to practice your breathing regularly to ensure you are not panting throughout your surfing session. 

Save Your Energy

If you consider yourself short and have been paddling like crazy without paying attention to steadying yourself, it will be tough for you to be able to deal with an oncoming wave. Therefore, it is essential to preserve your energy so that you can deal with such a wave more successfully. 

To save as much energy as possible, you need to be patient while paddling so that you can store a large amount of air in your lungs when you see a wave breaking out on you. This will allow you a few precious seconds to catch your breath. If you run out of energy even before the wave arrives, you’re going to be in big trouble.

Types Of Board You Can Choose

Choosing an appropriate board is essential to becoming a proficient surfer. Surfboards are chosen based on multiple factors, including the size of the board, their weight, the skill level of the surfer, and their height.

People under 5’10 may prefer shortboards, whereas others who are taller might prefer using a funboard or a longboard. However, the final choice depends on the individual’s preferences. 


Shortboards are five to seven feet long and feature an inverted tip along with 2 to 5 fins. Due to their small surface area, shorter surfboards are better for making fast cuts in the waves and gaining speed. Moreover, these boards are more responsive and agile, allowing professional surfers to do incredible feats on them. 

However, a shortboard is relatively more difficult to control. If you’re a beginner, you will find it hard to balance yourself on this surfboard. These surfboards are typically designed for experienced surfers who want to improve their skills.

Once you are at an intermediate level, you could consider a shortboard. Don’t overdo it though, you might benefit more from a shortboard with more volume instead of buying a really small shortboard.


Longboards, as the name implies, are longer than most surfboards. These boards usually have lengths of eight feet or more, broader noses, and a significantly more foam capacity. 

Longboards are the most commonly used surfboards. They are excellent for beginners, who enjoy the elegance and grace of longboarding. They are also more forgiving and steady, offering learners the stability they need to learn how to balance on a surfboard. 

However, due to their extra length, short people can sometimes find it difficult to move these longboards around. This also depends on your stance and positioning yourself properly. Your weight also plays a part, if you small and don’t weigh much, a longboard will be harder to turn. A short and heavier surfer will have less trouble.


Funboards are great for beginners, no matter your height or weight. As long as you pick a board that has the right volume, width, and length that suits your body type. Funboards are forgiving and playful, however, once you get better, the fun in board goes away and they can become a bit boring and slow.

Funboards strike a middle ground, in terms of length, between a shortboard and a longboard while not compromising on integrating the best features of both models. Funboards are available in a range of lengths, thicknesses, and nose designs, and are intended mostly for stability and simplicity of usage.

Funboards are ideal for assisting beginners in making the switch from a longboard, or to a shortboard. If you’re having problems transitioning from a longboard to a shortboard, consider buying a funboard.

They provide enough mobility to make bottom turns and offer a great amount of stability for you to surf with freedom. 

Consider Your Skill Level Before Buying a Surfboard

An important question you need yourself is whether you consider yourself a beginner or an advanced surfer. If you are short and just starting out on learning how to surf, you should choose a surfboard designed for beginners, which offers more stability and an extra bit of volume.

For that, you can consider buying a soft-top foam surfboard, which offers excellent buoyancy and balance. The foam also makes paddling easier, making the task of catching waves a lot simpler. If you’re a more experienced surfer, you can go with a shortboard which will allow you to ride steep waves effortlessly.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Height Affect Surfing?

While there are no disadvantages of being either too tall or too short, although, your height can affect the way your surfing style and how you ride a wave. 

Are Short People Better at Surfing Than Taller People?

Short people can find surfing to be a lot easier than most tall people, but it really depends on a lot of factors. Their small stature gives them a lower center of gravity and keeps them more balanced than taller people. Also, most of the top surfers around the world have a height of around 5’9”. 

Does the Length Of My Board Affect My Surfing Performance?

It’s more about volume than length and your body type. The volume contributes to the bulk of the board and helps it float. Longboards provide enough momentum to keep you moving on a tiny wave. However, they often require more energy when it comes to changing your direction.

Honestly, momentum is something you have control over. If you build up enough momentum you’ll less likely to sink which makes paddling easier. Even small waves can be powerful, but less powerful waves are easier to catch if you time properly.

Take a bottom turn for example. It’s really hard to do on a weaker wave and large board. It takes a lot more effort to get up to speed. It all comes down to poper technique and knowing how a wave behaves.

Is it Difficult For Short People To Surf Large Waves?

Big waves are more challenging to handle than smaller ones. No matter how short or tall you are, it all comes down to your skill level. Large waves require skill, balance, flexibility, agility, and endurance. Perhaps for pros there is a difference but not for the average surfer.


No matter how short or tall you are, surfing is about the basic principles of being healthy. You need to be strong, fast, agile, and have the proper knowledge and guts.

In the the most imporant thing is picking the right surfboard with the right volume for your skill level and body type. Being shorter doesn’t always give you and advantage over taller surfers. Perhaps it is easier to walk to the front of a surfboard when you’re shorter, but inthe end in comes down to body type and the volume of your surfboard.

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