We’ve all seen the sun-kissed surfers effortlessly ride those waves with great finesse, and many of us have dreamt of doing the same. Signing up for surfing lessons is a great way to learn this exhilarating sport, but there are a couple of things you need to prepare before you jump into the water.

To help you ace your first surf lesson, here are 7 pro tips you should keep in mind.

1. Get Your Gear Ready

If you’re completely new to the surfing world, it might be wise to start with a foam, soft-top surfboard. These are specifically designed to be as light and buoyant as possible, making them ideal for beginners. As for the board length, the longer the board is, the easier you’ll be able to catch waves. Somewhere between 7 and 9 ft would be a great length for a novice.

2. Choose the Right Wetsuit

When it comes to your wetsuit, you’ll want to look for a reputable brand for maximum comfort. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank. You can easily find great deals on rip curl surf gear, and sportswear online with just a few clicks. Of course, you can surf in a swimsuit if the water is warm enough, but you’ll want to wear a wetsuit if the water is cold. You should try the suit on before the lesson and make sure that you can move freely in it. You also want to ensure that the fabric offers enough protection without being too thick, otherwise, you’ll be stuck in an uncomfortable, heavy wetsuit.

3. Improve Your Pop-Up Technique

The first thing that you’re probably going to learn in your surf lesson is how to stand up on the surfboard. This is something that you can easily practice by yourself without a surfboard. You can practice on the bed, couch, yoga mat, or pretty much anywhere in your house. Simply draw or imagine a straight line, and make sure your feet land in the middle of that line. Practicing the pop-up technique will make you better prepared for the lesson.

4. Work on Your Physical Fitness

From paddling out and angling the surfboard to catching a wave and standing up on the board, surfing requires an extensive range of physical abilities. So, before your first lesson, take the time to work on your physical fitness to make sure that you’re in the best surfing shape possible. Surfing involves short spurts of cardiovascular activities, so try to focus on doing intense workouts that target your shoulders, back, chest, and arm muscles in short intervals. Also, don’t forget to stretch, or else, you’ll end up with very sore muscles.

5. Get Familiar with Rip Currents

Knowing how to recognize and escape rip tides can potentially save your life at sea. Rip currents are powerful, fast-moving channels of water that move directly away from the shore and cut through the breaking waves. You can easily recognize them if you spot a disputed pattern of incoming waves or a line of seaweed or rubble flowing steadily out to sea. They are capable of carrying even the strongest of swimmers away from the shore. So if you get caught in the current, fight your instinct to swim against the current as this will only tire you out.

Instead of swimming directly towards the shore, try to swim sideways, parallel to the beach, until you escape the current. If you can’t do that, your next option will be to ride the current out and follow it to calmer waters. No matter what route you choose, it’s very important to try and stay calm. You don’t want to waste energy thrashing around and panicking.

6. Don’t Forget to Wear Sunscreen

Even on a nice and breezy day, direct exposure to UV rays can cause painful skin burns. And in the long run, it can lead to various skin diseases, such as skin cancer. So don’t take any risks and always be sure to wear an SPF-rated sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you head out because it takes between 15-30 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen.

7. Set Realistic Expectations

You need to prepare yourself mentally for the mistakes and challenges that come with the learning process. This way, you can avoid the frustrations and disappointments of unrealistic expectations which, in turn, will allow you to live in the moment and enjoy the exhilarating experience that is surfing.

When it comes to enjoying the sea, sun, and sand, nothing beats surfing. But as you can see, surfing requires a lot of effort and dedication. So before you head to the beach, be sure to do some prep work to get the most out of your lesson. It is also very important to go into it with a positive mindset and a willingness to learn. Now, put your sunscreen on, get your gear ready, flash those pearly whites, and get ready to have some fun!