Over the last decades, surfing has evolved from just a leisure activity into a dynamic lifestyle. Being one of the most popular extreme sports, it has gained up to 35 million fans worldwide. That’s why so many people are eager to turn their passion for surfing into a meaningful career. In this article, we explore ways in which you can make this a reality.
Why become a pro surfer?
Surfing has become a full-fledged industry that is expected to reach $5 billion in value by 2027. Its popularity has given this sport a wide range of activities, products, and services.
This includes various events and competitions, professional organizations and associations, schools, media coverage, and even so-called surf tourism. For top surfers, professional competitions offer an opportunity to display their skills and artistic prowess.
Achieving recognition brings athletes personal satisfaction and can lead to sponsorship deals and advertising contracts. This is one of the reasons why many surfing fans are considering this sport as a career option.
Tips on how to become a professional surfer
Learning to surf and achieving a professional level requires a combination of physical fitness, technical skills, experience, and understanding of the environment. Here are a few steps that can help you become a professional surfer:
1. Start with the basics
Learn the basics of surfing, including proper board positioning, stand-up technique, and control. Gain experience on soft boards for beginners before moving on to hard boards.
2. Take surfing courses
Consider taking surfing lessons or enrolling in courses from experienced instructors, as they can teach you safe and effective techniques.
3. Physical training
Work on your physical development by strengthening your core and legs, as this is important for board control and balance.
4. Understanding the nature of waves
Gaining an understanding of water conditions helps you practice surfing safely and effectively. That’s why you should study the behavior of waves, ebbs and flows, sea currents, and other aspects of the environment.
5. Constant practice
Train regularly to improve your skills. Constant self-improvement is the key to success in surfing.
6. Participate in competitions
Join local surfing competitions and events. It will help you to gain competitive experience, meet the pros and build your network of contacts in the surfing community.
7. Be patient and enjoy
As with any other sport, the journey from being a passionate surfer to a professional athlete requires constant training and skill improvement. It takes time and patience, so enjoy the learning process and your every moment on the waves.
Surfing career opportunities
If you browse the internet, you find that there are many options to combine surfing with money-making. The most obvious one, besides being a pro athlete with sponsorship and advertising contracts, is surfing teaching and instruction.
Becoming a surf instructor will allow you to share your joy of riding the waves with others. Surf schools and camps attract people of all skill levels, creating a demand for qualified instructors. By turning the beach into a classroom, you can not only pass on your knowledge but also develop the next generation of surf enthusiasts.
According to the American worldwide employment website Indeed, there are more than a dozen professions associated with surfing: besides being an instructor, you can become an event organizer or marketing specialist.
So, if you are a professional writer who’s passionate about surfing, you can combine both of these professions and become a surfer writer or journalist. For instance, Mikala Jones, one of the most famous surfers in the world, was also a professional photographer and filmmaker.
Besides this, there are some other exciting career opportunities for pro surfers, such as film-making. 2013’s movie “Drift” involves pro athletes performing as surf stunt doubles for actors. So, the possibilities of turning your hobby into a profession are certainly unlimited.
Difficulties in becoming a pro surfer
Despite millions of surf enthusiasts around the world, it’s reported that there are only around 3,000 pro surfers. The reason is that along with the exciting prospects of a surfing career, there are also challenges.
Competition in professional surfing is intense, and success often requires persistence and determination. Factors such as location, economic fluctuations, and seasonal changes can affect the stability of a surfing career. That’s why you have to be prepared to overcome these hurdles.
First, you need to invest in your training and equipment. The cost of getting started with surfing can vary depending on several factors, such as your location, experience level, preferences, and equipment availability. Here's a general overview of the costs you may incur:
Prices for surf lessons vary depending on location and instructor. Typically, this can range from several tens to hundreds of dollars per hour. The better instructor you have, the faster you will achieve results in riding waves like a pro.
2. Special clothing and equipment
To become a pro surfer, you will eventually have to get your surfboard or even a few of them. A surf suit and board wax may be necessary.
Prices for suits vary, and wax can cost anywhere from a few dollars. Altogether, this will cost you approximately $830 up to $2,300, depending on which type of water you are going to surf – warm or cold.
Some surfing locations may require or recommend insurance for personal injury or equipment damage. Insurance costs may also vary. But usually, they are between $50 to $125.
Besides purchasing clothing and equipment, you might also have some additional expenses. Such as spending on accessories like a surfboard bag, which might cost more than $400, or board transportation.
Also, if you don’t live in Bali, Hawaii, San Diego, or another suitable place for surfing, you will probably have to move somewhere else so that you can actually catch a wave!
If you decide to move to another country or just a city to chase your dream, you should also think about possible rental and utilities fees, as well as other living expenses. They can vary from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on your preferred location.