Life Lessons that board sports can teach you

Board sports are fun, exhilarating and great workouts, but can they really teach you life lessons? Yes, there are many life lessons that board sports can teach you, if you look closely enough. For example, any activity has a learning curve, with some being steeper than others. These learning curves can teach us one important concept: persistence. As quoted from the movie, The Founder, Ray Kroc (played by Michael Keaton), states that persistence and persistence alone is all powerful. Some people might be tempted to quit if they fall too hard or fail to catch a wave, but true athletes rise above this. Some life lessons that Board sports can teach you not only persistence, but adaptability, environmental science, and a healthy lifestyle.


life lessons board sports can teach us

Board sports are unlike common sports because they require both upper and lower body strength, along with balance. Wakeboarding and Surfing demand above average strength and stamina. In fact, wakeboarding burns 245 calories per hour, while surfing burns 125 cal/hr. Not only do these board sports burn tons of calories, but they have steep learning curves.

Surfing requires perfect timing to catch and stand on a wave, while wakeboarding demands the same when being pulled out of the water. It's quite common for beginner surfers to take at least 2-3 lessons before they can successfully catch waves on their own. This figure can vary based on the student, teacher and location. Generally, its recommended to choose an uncrowded beach break at low tide with 2-3 ft. surf.

Beginner wakeboarders want to get up too soon and/or fight the boat, leading to failure. Wake sports require proper positioning and timing to rise out of the water. Novice wakeboarders can expect 4-5 failed attempts before getting up for the first time. However, some beginners can get up on the first try, but this varies with the student. It's also recommended to use a short rope between 30-50 long and be towed at approximately 20 mph.


Unlike a tennis court or running track, board sports take place on various streets, the ocean, lakes and mountains. These playgrounds are constantly changing, making adaptability a crucial trait. For example, waves constantly change and are easily impacted by variables like wind, tide and swell. If you're riding a wave and it crashes in front of you, different strategies must be performed. It's hard to do tricks like snaps and nose rides with a large wall of white water impeding your progress. Therefore, the best waves that offer trick opportunities are those that have long, steep shoulders (unbroken part of the wave.) Being on the shoulder will allow you to maneuver with ease.

life lessons board sports teach us

Some board sports share common themes like balance and weight shifting techniques, but each one is quite unique.  For instance, strong winds destroy waves, making terrible conditions for surfing, but epic ones for kiteboarding. Therefore, it's important to be able to go with the flow when playing these sports. If there's no wind, it could be a great time to surf or paddle board, but impossible to windsurf. When the afternoon wind picks up, choose your favorite wind sport and enjoy!

life lessons board sports can teach us

Long or shortboard?

Using different equipment like multiple surfboards or skateboards teaches adaptability too. For instance, some places like fast, steep beach breaks are better for shortboarding, while long, slow reef breaks are perfect for longboarding. Skateboarding shares this feature with surfing, as shorter boards with elevated noses and tails are ideal for tricks at the skate park. However, longer flatter boards are better for cruising down the board walk.

Environmental Science

You probably didn't think you could learn environmental science while working out. Well guess again, as board sports are a fun way to learn about the earth. It's important to learn about fundamental science topics like topography for these sports. Topography is just a fancy word that refers to what's on the sea floor like reefs, sandbars, and canyons. Topography significantly influences waves because beach breaks, reef breaks, point breaks and man made structures like piers can make or a break a spot. As mentioned in a previous post, Nazare is a XXL surf break in Portugal created by the Nazare canyon just offshore. Large canyons like this one among others have created phenomenal big wave areas such as Mavericks.

life lessons board sports can teach us

XXL Wave at Mavericks

Wind, tide, and marine wildlife impact sports like surfing, windsurfing, and wake sports. For instance, its important to know the stingray shuffle when surfing to avoid being stung by a sting ray. Some surf schools like the Mission Bay Aquatic Center, have instructors give brief lessons to students on ocean conditions and creatures before paddling out. Without wind, it'd be impossible to sail, windsurf or kiteboard, making it crucial to know how it works. You can't sail or kiteboard directly into the wind, but must instead learn tacking, jibbing and the points of sail. This might sound complex, but it boils down to sailing up wind at an angle.

Healthy Lifestyle

Some sports can be easily played if you're slightly out of shape, but board sports enforce a healthy lifestyle. For example, the best times to surf or wakeboard are early in the morning, when there is no wind. If you're partying hard the night before, it's pretty tough to wake up at this time and enjoy optimal conditions. As board sports burn many calories per hour, you should be in good shape to reap the benefits. Therefore, it's highly recommended to consistently work out and have a proper diet if you consistently ride. It can be hard to find the time to play these sports making cross training important. Some cross training exercises include swimming for surfing and lower body exercises like squats and dead lifts for wakeboarding.

life lessons board sports can teach us

Besides working out the entire body, these sports are great cardio workouts. Thus, it's important to limit smoking as you don't want to find yourself panting for breath every few paddles. Also, these sports provide many mental health benefits like better sleep and lower rates of depression. In fact, numerous medical studies have found that exercise is just as effective in combating depression as antidepressants.

These board sports are not only fun, but can teach us many key lessons. It may not seem like it, but it's possible to learn through pure play. These board sports teach us many life lessons like persistence, adaptability, environmental science, and healthy choices.

What other life lessons can board sports teach you? Please tell us below!

← Older Post Newer Post →