Welcome to the Surf Simply Tree of Knowledge!

Use your mouse to zoom and explore the image.

The Tree of Knowledge forms the core of our coaching curriculum, and as far as we know there is nothing like this available anywhere else. This flowchart is a visual guide to all the key surfing skills you’ll want to master as you go from having never seen a surfboard, through to being a very competent athlete. The graphic is the result of years of tweaking our methodology to find the most intuitive and logical path to developing your surfing skills.

Some of the skills are physical, and involve learning the correct biomechanics and timing to succeed. Other skills are more mental, and involve learning how to read the waves and conditions to get the most out of any session. Most surfers will find themselves working on several different skills at any one time in their development, and a good tactic is to try to take 1 physical skill and 1 mental skill into the water each session.

It’s important to note that while it’s not essential to master all the boxes, the more you skip, the more likely you are to encounter problems at some point in the future. Boxes in earlier levels form the foundation of skills further along the chart, and the more holes you have in your foundation, the more likely it becomes that your development will to plateau. That said, don’t feel like you have to be perfect at one skill before moving on to something else, just make sure to come back and re-visit any skills that might still need more work.

One thing this chart does not illustrate is the exponential increase in time that each level will take to master. Because of the way each skill builds on its predecessors, so the more advanced skills have increasingly more components, and may also require more specific conditions in order to practice them. Consequently, if we assume someone was able to surf regularly on a majority of days, the timeline for working through the Tree might look like this

  • Level 1 – A few days to a few weeks
  • Level 2 – A few weeks to a few months
  • Level 3 – A few months to a few years
  • Level 4 – A few years to a few decades

The end of Level 4 does not represent the end of your development, as these sections are just introductions to those specific areas of advanced surfing. If you have mastered even one of section of Level 4 and are still looking to progress, you should probably be thinking about long term professional coaching. Surfing is a wonderful sport because there really is no end to the potential for development.

You may also want to check out our Surfboard Volume Calculator.