With no less than 75 surf breaks in the Margaret River Region, there are a few good spots to teach the groms (kids) how to surf.
For over 25 years, former pro-surfer Josh Palmateer taught people to surf from as young as four to as old as 88. Now run by Simon Tien since 2022, the Margaret River Surfing Academy still practices the same philosophy – tailoring its teaching methods to suit the individual, even in group lessons. “Sometimes kids are a little nervous and that’s totally normal. We’d allocate a coach to them and sometimes that might mean sitting back and watching the other kids for a while, or just spending time getting comfortable in the water,” Josh says.
“It would always start with surf safety, ocean awareness and knowledge, things like identifying rips, explaining how they work, pointing out the shallow sand bars, teaching them how to fall off their surfboard safely and get back on. Then do some practise on how to quickly go from lying down to standing on a board.”
And there’s different methods for different sized people, fitness levels and those with dodgy knees and the like. “By identifying the dangers in the ocean that they are going to face, by educating everyone how to enjoy the surf and stay safe, their confidence grows, they have a better feel for it and aren’t as nervous. We would go through how to control the surfboard, how to enter the ocean carrying a board, how to turn around and paddle, also landmarks so they know where they are in the ocean and know where to stay. With the little ones between four and six years old, we’d do a bit of a safety talk, have them do an activity, go back to the safety talk, another activity – they have shorter attention spans and won’t sit still for long.”