isa level 1 surfing skills

Your personal surfing assessment: Surf Insight ISA Level 1

Over the many years of running surfing instructor courses we have seen no part of the course that creates more tension, misunderstanding and apprehension than the level of surfing required of instructors and the their assessment that we run on an ISA 1. On our Surf Insight Level 1 courses we are not here to teach you to surf. We are here to turn you into a great instructor.

But please don’t worry about this level as it’s quite basic, but it’s solid in technique. This can all be done on a short board, mid range or longboard and at Level 1 we’ve seen many pass their ISA Level 1 test on a soft board.

Let’s look first at the level of surfing you need on a Surf Insight ISA Level 1 Instructor Course.

Surf Insight ISA Level 1 Personal Surfing Assessment

We are lucky in Sri Lanka to have good small to average wave conditions to carry out this assessment. Watching instructors trying to paddle out for ½ an hour in heavy waves in shallow reefs tells us nothing. Most tests last ½ to ¾ of an hour depending on conditions.

So let’s be really honest: Have you ever seen a ski instructor fall down the slopes on a beginner lesson?  We owe it to those we coach at all levels to be competent surfers. We don’t have to be Steph Gilmore or Kelly Slater but just competent.

To reassure you it’s pretty basic, but don’t forget those you coach will be watching you demonstrate and you are their role model.

We video these assessments for obvious reasons and if you fail you can retake again in your 20 hours practical or later supply video evidence. But it’s so much better to pass this test on the actual course.

riding unbroken waves

You are assessed at Level 1 on the points below:

1. Paddling

Can you paddle, simple as that, effectively and efficiently and don’t forget this will relate to any rescue incidents too.

2. Duck dive or turtle roll

Can you affectively pass through waves?

3. Wave negotiation

Are you able to use the surf you’re given to ride on the day effectively?

4. Take off on unbroken waves

Seems obvious but straight handing closeouts is not what we want. We always try to give you conditions where good peeling wave are possible to catch. A stumble of the knees just doesn’t work but a good solid take off does. Your jump up should always be better than those you teach.

5. Make a bottom turn

This is a true functional bottom turn that sets up the rest of the wave.

6. Go backhand and forehand across that unbroken wave

In control and that’s the key. Your comfortable and in flow with your board at all times in the ride. Done once with control is enough.

7. You can exit the wave over the back of the wave

A flick out that shows control and vision of the wave.

8. Get back to shore safely and under control

You can see that control is a key in all of this and that’s what we want from those we teach and coach.

Control is the key, so here’s a video of a few super short waves that shows all these elements.

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