ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Course

About the ISA Programs

International Surfing Development provide ISA Surfing Programs throughout the world for Surf Instructors, SUP Instructors and Surf Judges.

Recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the world governing authority for the sport of surfing, the ISA Surf Coaching & Instructing Educational Program is the international standard for accreditation of Coaches and Instructors in the surf school industry.

The ISA Coaching & Instructing Program is designed to develop the skills, knowledge and abilities of those individuals who wish to obtain a scientific approach to the Coaching and Instructing of surfing.

The objectives of the ISA Coaching & Instructing Program:

· To establish an international system of Coaching and Instructing Courses, improving the safety and efficacy of surf instruction around the world.

· To further develop, through educational programs, a body of knowledge on which Coaches and Instructors may draw.

· To provide Coaches and Instructors with employment opportunities, encouragement and support.

· To advance Surf Coaching and Instructing as a globally standardised and highly professional activity with stringent requirements.

Over time this program will expand to many other areas of professional development education for our great sport of surfing.  All ISA Coaches and Instructors must abide by the local laws and regulations of the area in which they work. All ISA Instructors must be a minimum of 16 years of age to become an accredited ISA Instructor but must work under supervision of an ISA Instructor over 18 years of age.  An ISA Instructor must be a minimum of 18 years of age to instruct without supervision.

ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Course

The ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor qualification is the only internationally recognised Surf Instructor qualification recognised by the International Surfing Association and member organisations. All ISA courses set the international standard for accreditation for Instructors and Coaches in the surf school industry.

The Level 1 Instructor Qualification is the basic Instructor accreditation and minimum requirement for professional instructors to hold. It covers the teaching of entry level and basic beginner surfers through to an early intermediate level.

All level 1 Instructors must be a minimum age of 16 years old. Instructors under the age of 18 must work with a supervising instructor until they reach 18 years of age, at which time they are able to instruct on their own.

The requirements for accreditation and gaining the ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor qualification are

  • Attend the 2 Day ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Course
  • Satisfactorily complete all requirements of the course including
  • Venue Analysis
  • Design a basic learn to surf lesson plan
  • Deliver a basic learn to surf lesson
  • Demonstrate basic surf skills
  • Complete 20 practical instructing hours with a Supervisor Instructor who signs off a competency Check List for the Trainee Instructor
  • Fully complete the Level 1 Surf Instructor Work Book
  • Complete and be proficient in an Ocean Rescue Award
  • It is also strongly recommended that all instructors are a member of their National Governing Body

* Please note that there may be additional location specific requirements that must be met prior to the issuing of the Qualification. This may include for example, the requirement to have any working with children checks completed

Once these are all completed, the Trainee Instructor submits their Work Book to the Course Organiser, the National Governing Body or to the person identified during the course to whom all completed materials must be submitted to.

Once this has been done, it will be submitted to the ISA Head Office for processing. At which time, the successful instructors will be issued with their ISA Level 1 Certificate and added to the ISA Instructor Register.

The 2 Day ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Course will cover all the required material, both the theory and practical components. At the completion of the course, the participants must finish the requirements before they can submit their workbook to become accredited and qualified as an ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor.

Participants have 12 months to fully complete and submit to the ISA all requirements from the date of the start of the course to become accredited and qualified. If not completed within this 12 month time frame, the participant must complete the 2 day course again.

Instructor and Member Registration lasts for 12 months from the date of registration with the ISA. To reregister with the ISA, it is simply a matter of renewing online with the payment of the annual registration fee.

Practical Surfing Skills Assessment

As part of the course, all participants to pass the course, must have basic surfing skills and be able to surf to a minimum of a basic intermediate surfer. If at the time of the course, the participant is not able to show this, there will be an extension given to be able to demonstrate to the Course Presenter (or another person as directed by the Course Presenter) that these skills have been mastered.

The skills required are

  Be able to enter the water safely and paddle out through the break and impact zone successfully and competently negotiating the break and impact zone

  Be able to sit out the back, sit up on the board, turn the board and paddle onto green waves (unbroken waves)

  Do a basic bottom turn to the right and traverse the wave

  Do a basic bottom turn to the left and traverse the wave

  Safely exit and dismount from the wave

  Safely return to shore

  Not only must the participant be able to complete these basic skills but they must be completed competently

These skills are to be shown in gentle small-medium surf which is approximately 2-3 ft surf with a wave face of 3-6ft (waist to maximum head high waves).

Surf Rescue Training Requirements

The basic requirements for the Surf Rescue training are

  A 200m swim completed in under 5 minutes of continuous swimming of a recognised stroke

  A 100m run, 100m surf swim, 100m run completed in under 5 minutes with the run done on the sand and the swim done through the surf with a course to be set during the training

  Have basic surf skills without a board in the water so be able to run and dive through the waves and be able to swim to behind the break and then be able to return to shore in small to medium surf conditions

  Show competency in the rescue skills taught throughout the course

  Show competency in the basic first aid skills taught throughout the course

  Show competency in the rescue basic CPR taught throughout the course

  Show competency in the other skills taught throughout the course

These requirements and skills must be shown during the course prior to the end of the training. Unfortunately no extensions can be given to this one so it is important, especially for the fitness components (the swimming and run swim run) that participants do training prior to the course to ensure that they can complete these tasks


Day 1   9am to 4pm    ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Course

Day 2   9am to 4pm    ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Course

Day 3   9am to 4pm    Practical teaching of learn to surf classes with supervising instructors to begin to gain the required 20 hours practical experience

Day 4   9am to 4pm    Practical teaching of learn to surf classes with supervising instructors to begin to gain the required 20 hours practical experience

Day 5   9am to 4pm    Basic Surf Rescue, Basic First Aid and Basic CPR training (non accredited)

ISA Surf Instructor Workshop : Venue, Fee & Dates:

Venue: Mahabalipuram (Mahabs)

Fee: Rs 25,000 (Instructor Course + ISA Certification + Rescue Training + Surf School License from SFI)

Dates: July 11th – July 15th  2014

Note: The cost of the workshop might come down if there are more number of participants or if we are able to find a sponsor for the workshop. 


* I hereby agree that I am willing to participate in the ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Workshop conducted by Surfing Federation of India under International Surfing Association. 

* I accept the course procedures and standards set by the Surf Course Presenter in collaboration with Surfing Federation of India under International Surfing Association guidelines.

* I promise that my conduct, behaviour and interaction during the course shall be well mannered at all times with due respect to the course presenter, organisers, association and fellow participants.

Wrapup of ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Course:

The surfing industry in India took a huge development step forward with running it’s first ever International Surfing Association (ISA) Level 1 Surf Instructor qualification course combined with safety and rescue training and practical instructing in a five day long intensive professional workshop. The ISA is the International Governing Body of the sport of surfing throughout the world and is the authority for stipulating and creating the minimum international requirements to be accredited and qualified as a Surf Instructor.

Surf Instructor Course - 2014

The course ran from July 11 – July 15th which marked the beginning of the professional growth and development for surfing in India. There were 23 participants in Mahabalipuram, with 21 from India and two from Sri Lanka. The Indian participants came from all the country from as far north as Vizag on the East Coast and from Gokarna, Mulki, Goa, Kovalam, Kerala on the West Coast with a number of locals coming from Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry. There were 4 enthusiastic participants from Lakshadweep Islands too who were part of the course.
Surf Instructor Course - 2014
The professional training week included the ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor course, a Safety and Surf Rescue Course and finished with two days of free surf lessons to provide the trainee instructors an immediate opportunity to put their new skills and knowledge into practice and to also give the local people a chance to try this exciting new emerging sport for free.
Surf Instructor Course - 2014
The professional training and week long qualification workshop was organised by the Surfing Federation of India (SFI). The SFI, which is based in Mulki in Karnataka, is the recognised National Governing Body of surfing in India being a member of the ISA.
The SFI has run a number of surfing competitions, along with other contests run by local organisations, in various areas to assist with the growth of the competitive side of the sport but this is the first formal training workshop and results in professional qualifications for all those that complete the additional requirements to finalise the qualification. All participants have either fully finished all the extra training or are very close to it, resulting in 23 newly trained and qualified instructors in the country. The ISA Surf Instructor accreditation is internationally recognised enabling these new Instructors to also gain employment throughout the surfing world.
Surf Instructor Course - 2014
The workshop was run by Jamo Borthwick, who trains ISA Surf Instructors and Surf Judges and assists the development of surfing around the world. He also has a surf school on the Gold Coast in Australia. Borthwick commented that he was extremely impressed with the progression of the instructors throughout the week. “The instructors have all worked really hard this week, with long days of training with a large amount of information to understand and implement. They have all realised the need now for them to really work to maintain a professional high standard and provide high quality safe surf lessons for all ages, abilities and water competency levels. It was a great pleasure and extremely satisfying week working with such an enthusiastic and motivated group. Surfing in India definitely has a bright exciting future.”
Surf Instructor Course - 2014
Some of these newly trained Surf Instructors already have their own surf school operation teaching people how to surf in a safe and enjoyable way. Others are working in these surf schools or planning to open their own operation. This is great news for those who are keen to try surfing, feel the thrill and excitement of being out in the waves and experience the exhilaration of riding a wave.
The training taught the new Instructors how to best introduce people to this fantastic new sport in a safe and enjoyable way. Even for those of us who are not the strongest of swimmers, the training demonstrated the most effective way to teach people with maximum safety in shallow water, which is generally no deeper than waist deep, in simple easy to understand steps ensuring everyone feels comfortable and secure throughout the duration of the lessons.
The free learn to surf sessions were extremely well attended and a huge success. Three ladies from Mumbai said it was the best fun and a highlight of their beach holiday. One Swiss family of four extended their stay in Mahabalipuram for two extra nights to take advantage of these sessions. A couple from Northern India also extended their stay in the coastal town to surf both days and be taught by the new instructors delaying their departure also by two days before continuing on an epic bike road trip around South India. They enjoyed their time so much that their next stop was down the road in Pondicherry to continue their surfing at one of the surf schools where three of the newly trained instructors have been operating for a number of years. The gentleman, Sateesh, also has an affiliation with the Swimming Federation of India and expressed the desire to bring a number of the Indian swimmers who are part of the Swimming Federation to try surfing. There were a number of local people, especially children, who tried it for the first time and who will be targeted for continued involvement in the sport due to their amazing natural talent for the sport.
While only in its infancy, there is great potential in India for surfing and the surf industry. With such a vast coastline there are many possible locations throughout India for surfing and with such a big population, there is an extremely large pool to choose from for talent identification.
This is only just the beginning of the surfing industry growth with plans and structures in place to continue this professional development as well as athlete development and expansion of the sport. The 2014/15 surf competition season begins from September to Novemnber. Other plans include offering more free introduction sessions and forming a development squad to begin training with the aim of having a surf team from India representing the country at international ISA contests.
We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Coastal Security Group, Tamil Nadu for their co-operation and sending their men for surf training. We would like to thank Sea Breeze Hotel, Mamalla Heritage Hotel for hosting and assisting our workshop. A big thanks goes to Red Bull for being our energy drink sponsors at the workshop.
For a list of the newly accredited Surf Instructors and the newly licensed and recognised SFI surf schools, please visit the SFI website –