FAQ Surf Teams
We've updated our FAQs to reflect current COVID-Safe practices, please look for bolded text to see some of the many changes being made to keep our students and instructors safe and healthy.
How to join
We are now using MindBody scheduling for Surf Teams! Sign up on the Enroll Now page of our site. You can sign-in to your practices from the Surf Teams page or you can download the Mindbody App for your mobile phone. MindBody allows you to sign up for multiple and re-occuring practices at one time!
For your initial account set up through MindBody, please register from a computer (not the mobile app). *If you have more than 1 child on surf team, please create a separate account for each, including different emails (login). Once you have created your account(s) and purchased your membership you can use the mobile app (download below) to sign-in to practices. If you need HELP with MindBody, please click HERE.
Parent School Team Managers
Please go to the school specific page on the "Surf Team" tab drop down menu to find contact info for parent team managers. Every school team we host has a unique team email address that you can write to with specific questions regarding participation.
Is there a cost?
Yes. For 2021/22, see dues/payments options below for the school year (or click here). Team uniforms are a school specific and rash guards are mandatory and can be purchased for $30. Families may choose to purchase multiple rashguards. All surfers must pay their dues and wear their rashguard to every practice. There are no scholarships available at this time.
$1,600 - $400 quarterly (4 payments every 3 months)
$1,500 - $750 semester (2 payments)
$1,400 year (1 time payment in full)
$850 - 1 Semester only (Fall or Spring) membership
When to join
Sign-ups can happen from the start of the school year until September 31, 2021. Payments must be made prior to your first practice. We do not prorate for later sign ups.
Practice Times, Locations & Parking
Parking is at South Lot 4, 2030 Ocean Ave. and please note there are TWO (2) entrances to this lot: long term parking entrance is at Ocean and Bicknell, and short term parking is at Hollister and Ocean. BE AWARE: Waze app and other GPS maps send people to the Jonathon Club if you plug Tower 24 into maps. Please use the cross streets provided here as a means to find our location.
Long term parking is $10/day or a Santa Monica issued beach pass and Short term parking is $2/2-hours. Yearly/half yearly, and monthly beach passes are allowed at these lots (they can be purchased at the SM Business Office) or you can choose to pay for parking via the kiosks. There is no charge for simply picking up and dropping off your children.
SAMOHI, JAMS, Lincoln, SMASH, Paul Revere, and Mar Vista weekly practices meet at Towers 22 and 24, respectively. This year, we do not congregate at the strand, we meet down at the tower--all mask and social distance LA County and Santa Monica rules apply to our sand meetings.
Parking is at South Lot 4, 2030 Ocean Ave.–long term parking entrance is at Ocean and Bicknell, long term and short term parking is at Hollister and Ocean. Long term parking is $10/day or a Santa Monica issued beach pass and Short term parking is $2/2-hours.
ALL TEAMS (up to 30 students) practice on Saturdays at Tower 24. There is both long and short term parking available.
What can my child expect to learn?
Children can expect to learn basic ocean safety skills (how to identify wave sizes and rip currents), ocean swim skills (how to move with the sea), board handling skills, and surfing skills. We help kids improve their skills from wherever they are starting their surfing journey. All students move through beginner, intermediate, and advanced skill cards. These cards cover beginner fundamentals and as a student advances, the skill cards reflect more physically challenging ocean activities that surfers do within every surf session: swimming, running, and paddling. Regardless of current starting ability, surf team is a large group setting, where the learning curve is going to be slower than if they took a few private lessons to complement their group experience. They will know the joys of surfing in a very controlled environment when we have a larger ratio, but they will get 1/10th the one-on-one time they would get if they do a private lesson.
What if my child has never surfed?
At Surf Academy we welcome everyone. But given the circumstances of this unprecedented year, we have some requirements for the 20/21 school year: four (4) private lessons prior to joining the team if your child has never surfed, OR must have attended previous surf team or summer camp sessions (at least two weeks of summer camp with Surf Academy), OR have foundational surf/ocean skills learned through Junior Lifeguards or our own Ocean Ambassadors program. Regardless of current starting ability, surf team is a large group setting, where the learning curve is going to be slower than if they took a few tailored private lessons to complement their group experience. They will know the joys of surfing in a very controlled environment when we have a larger ratio, but they will get 1/10th the one-on-one time they would get if they do a private lesson. **Please note that some of our old methods for testing water literacy are no longer possible due to COVID-19. To minimize instructor/student contact, we are now requiring that students know how to swim and tread water, and be comfortable in the ocean. If you are unsure of your child’s competency, a private lesson or two might be needed to assess their level of comfort. We can have kids that only go into the water waist deep, if they are not strong enough swimmers.
Do the kids compete?
Yes! The kids who wish to can compete in five regular season surf contests hosted by Surf Academy between all area public schools with teams. The once-a-month contests begin October 2021 thru June 2022. All ISPE earners must compete in all surf contests to satisfy SMMUSD requirements.
What are the requirements to join the team?
Pay dues or initiate payment plans due September 8th, 2021.
Sign the WAIVER for Surf Academy found on the "Download Forms" page as a pdf.
Refer to your specific surf team's page to find necessary information on this year's overall schedule. Make sure
This year, 2021/22, "Ocean Assessments" will occur for every new student at their first practice. It includes a short buoy swim past the surf break, a paddle, two minutes of treading water, shoreline entries/exits, and other ocean safety basics. This assessment is NOT in lieu of the private surf lessons required if your child has never surfed and wishes to join one of the teams.
We strongly suggest two practices a week. We provide space for EVERYONE to come to one of their team practices twice a week; with the possibility for more practices as family schedules allow. Any student who is using their time on the team to earn ISPE credit MUST come the required amount of minutes in their ISPE contract.
How many practices a week are there?
Each child’s dues pay for TWO (2) practices to attend a week (70 practices are included in the membership). The "1 semester only" membership is for half a school year and includes 35 practices. You will be able to purchase packages of more practices if they use up the 70 by attending more than 2 per week. CLICK HERE to see the complete schedule on MindBody. Students who wish to earn ISPE credit MUST attend an afternoon practice, and they have option to either attend the other afternoon practice OR their weekday dawn patrol session. No one earns ISPE credit for Saturday practice. **Afternoon practices change by 30 minutes after daylight savings in Spring.**
There are 10 unique practice times, and within those scheduled times and days there are up to 3 teams practicing per time schedule. Students in middle school can go to their specific team practice OR any other middle school practice that fits into their schedule, as long as they sign up in advance. The same goes for high school students. You are not allowed to attend a practice that you did not sign up for without checking with the coaches to see if there is space available. For COVID safety of staff and students, we are limiting the number that we coach per session, and walk-ups are not allowed.
**This year, all middle school practices, regardless of school, are limited to 15 students per session. All High School practices are capped at 20 students per session.**
What if my child wants to surf more than the allotted weekly practices?
If you want more instruction for your grom:
Come to more than 2 practices a week! You can do this by signing into any other surf practice offered. If you run out of practices, you may purchase more packages of practices when you run out. They will be available through MindBody later in the season.
Do we have to sign up for the whole year?
You have the option of a single semester or the entire year.
If you'd like to take a test drive of surf team, we offer a "1 semester only" membership option.
During the school year, Surf Team is a commitment for several reasons:
Our program is designed to be progressive. For that reason, we don't allow sign ups during the season. Throughout the season we expect to see many changes in your child's physical abilities and their mental and physical fortitude. Surfing is not just a set of skills, but many different skill sets that must be applied according to continually varying surf/weather conditions. That's why this program is so amazing, we will be surfing through seasons! There are MANY ups and downs in surfing and it takes years of dedication to become a competent surfer physically and mentally!
In addition to you and your child's commitment, we are a service based business that cares about our (and your) coaches and staff. This job is in a sense a commitment to our coaches and from them to you as well, and we want nothing but the best! Your dues are paying for your coaches and at a 1:10 ratio that is our biggest expense of Surf Team.
In terms of value, if you are not getting independent PE credit and think dedication might fizzle out when it gets cold and dark, or if there are section when school gets rough, you can come to more than 2 practices per week when the weather is great (in the early and late season) and still use most if not all of your sessions. If you run out of sessions, you can purchase more later in the season.
What are the instructor to student ratios on the beach and in the water?
Surf Academy coaches to groms (kids who surf) is 1:10 or better. There are times when we have coaches covering land and water and students are moving through stations, getting technical feedback, and/or being video'd.
Can my child earn Independent P.E. credit for surfing?
Yes they can. You must fill out the school forms for your child, get their signature, get Head Coach Marion Clark’s information, and turn the forms into the appropriate administrators at your child’s school by the school's spring time deadline. Each school has their own rules for when to turn in the forms, so be sure to talk to the people at your school about deadlines. Please refer to your school's specific required number of minutes needed, and we will help you figure out the amount of practices you should commit yourself to. No PE credit is given for Saturday practice. Depending on their school's unique schedule, groms earning ISPE credit will have to come to two to three practices a week in order to earn the 200 weekly minutes that are a minimum requirement for ISPE. Ohana Nalu contests also count towards the total required minutes for a semester.
How come they have to run, stretch, and do sit ups and push ups?
Everything we do at surf practice is designed to help children be more comfortable, confident, and strong in their bodies. Running, paddling, sit ups, push ups, and stretching are all components of surfing. We practice all of these things to get stronger and be more well-rounded athletes.
Does Surf Academy supply the equipment?
Surf Academy provides equipment for summer camps, private and semi private lessons, and special events. We do not provide equipment for students at surf practices.
Where is the best place to get a board and wetsuit?
Check out local surf shops! We recommend these family owned surf shops: Rider Shack in Culver City, Dive'n'Surf in Redondo Beach, El Porto Surf Shop in Manhattan Beach, Bay Street Boards and Jack's Surf Shop in Santa Monica, and E.T. Surf in Hermosa Beach. You can also check out online re-selling platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc for used for boards. But when in doubt, our Surf Academy favorite is INT Surfboards. (Please ask your instructors for advice/guidance if you are unsure). Every team manager will organize an order for Bodyglove wetsuits and surf team members enjoy deep discounts on top of the line suits.
How do I know what size wetsuit my child needs?
Kids sizes typically match their age (for example, a 12 year old wears a size 12). This is not always the case, however, and most wetsuit brands you can look up online and cross-check your child’s height/weight with the brand size chart to pick the best fit. Each team is doing a wetsuit order with BodyGlove within the first month of practice. Please talk to your team manager about getting on the list for a wetsuit at wholesale cost.
How do I know what is the right board for my child?
In the beginning, the rule is generally, “the bigger the board, the faster a child will learn.” Surf Academy recommends foam boards in the 7’0” – 9’8” range depending on height/weight of the child. The coaches working closely with your child in practice can give good advice about sizing as your child becomes more proficient in the water. We are doing a board order with INT softboards. You can get a high end foam board or a hybrid board (foam top, fiberglass bottom) for 20-30% above wholesale. If you are interested in this option, please check the site and then email Marion with your requests.
Should my child’s board have a leash?
How long should it be? It depends. For beginners, Surf Academy’s philosophy is NO LEASH while they are learning on a foam board. This ensures that the coaches can be hands-on with our help for your grom. If your grom is using a fiberglass or epoxy board, then a leash is MUST. Real fins and harder boards hurt a lot when they get away from their owner and hit someone. The leash ensures the board will stay in relatively close proximity to the owner. The downside to a leash is that Surf Academy coaches and other volunteers cannot do hands-on work with your grom because of safety concerns. Leashes have a tendency to coil around ankles/legs/waists/necks and cause much harm to the person who gets snagged. Another pitfall of leash use is that students using leashes are less mindful of keeping their board close to them. We want our groms to learn good boardhandling skills, and this means how to terminate a wave properly and how to wipeout properly — keep your board close! When a leash is involved, students are more apt to let their board go flying or simply jump off at the end of a wave–both bad habits! Newbies learn discernment faster when a leash is taken out of their surfing equation.
What are the dangers of surfing?
All sorts of things! Wipeouts, ego bruising, salty eyes, sandy noses and ears, sting ray stings (especially when the water is warm and the waves are mellow), getting hit by surfboards, getting tripped up by leashes…Surfing is considered an extreme sport and we are in the ocean, which means we are level with all the creatures living in the sea. The thing about these perceived dangers are that they are also what makes surfing so delightfully different from all other past-times! And Surf Academy is one of the safest places to be in learning how to avoid these dangers as we can.
How are the children protected from those dangers?
Surf Academy coaching staff teaches students how to handle themselves and their surfboards in the ocean. We go over safety protocols (how to point the board in relationship to a wave, how to wipe out safely, how to exit a wave, how to hang on to equipment, etc) before each surf session and remind all throughout practice. Kids don’t remember everything they are told the first time, and we are like broken records when it comes to safety of self and others in the water.
Am I allowed to stay and watch practice?
Yes you are! We do ask that parents who are not volunteering their surf knowledge in the water stay on shore and remain a safe distance from their children. We have learned over the years that children behave differently when their parents aren’t around. We don’t want any of the groms to get confused about who is “in charge” at surf practice: the parents or the coaches? We don’t want you to miss your child’s first wave triumphs and epic wipeouts; we do however, ask that you back up the coaches by deferring to their good judgment in the water. When you come to the beach, please watch at a safe distance from the water line. This way, our students don’t feel like they are on stage. Surfing can be pretty tough on the mind sometimes, and we want as much space for growth as possible!
What happens when the weather is unsavory?
Practice is cancelled in the case of: High Surf Advisories, Heavy Rain (rain advisories), Heavy Winds, Thunderstorms, and Sewage Spills, and changing state/city regulations in response to COVID. If practice falls within 72 hours of a heavy rain, there is no water practice and only land practice. Homework assignments will be given (for those that earn independent PE credit) if we have to cancel a practice and it isn't easy for the kids to make it up in their own time.
All team members are encouraged (and ISPE earners are required) to compete and have the option to enter Surf Academy sponsored "Ohana Nalu" contests throughout the surf season!
Middle Schoolers are competing together in longboard and shortboard events. Heats are split by gender; and boys and girls have an equal number of spots available. High Schoolers are offered an equal number of spots across gender for both long and shortboard divisions. Any middle and high school student is welcome to enter the Ohana Nalu surf series, regardless of team membership.
Samohi also competes in the South Bay Scholastic Surfing Association with other schools from across Southern California. These events are hosted during the week and students are excused from school to participate. High School Athletes are chosen to represent their school for competition based on points earned at practice in three categories: Attitude, Ability, and Attendance. Surf Academy strives to turn out surfers who epitomize the qualities put forth in The Surfer Code. Students who exhibit high quality sportsmanship at practice, showing talent and hard work on a consistent basis. Students must have good attendance at all regularly scheduled practices and team bonding events. Only surfers who exemplify ‘The Stoke,’ exhibit the highest ethics, in and out of the water, and make themselves a fixture at all practices and team events are asked to compete for their school.
All team members must wear their brightly colored team rashguard to every practice. These identifying rashguards help County Lifeguards, parents, and Coaches keep track of surfers in the water. No rashguard, no water entry, no exceptions. Rashguards can be purchased for $30 each.
You are committing to the membership package/contract you signed up for. Surf team dues are non-refundable and non-transferrable. Team dues cover two (2) 75 minute-90 minute practices per week for a total of 35 or 70 practices (depending on your membership) during the season, and allow for the possibility of make-up days the following week should there be illness, family emergencies, or weather related misses/cancellations. Sign-ins prior to practices must be done at least 24-hour in advance. If your child is signed in for a practice and they “no show” without notice or do not cancel through their MindBody account more than 8 hours before the practice, they will be marked "late cancel" and the session will be forfeit.