Learning to surf and increasing overall surfing skill can be a "trial and error" process for many people. Let's have a look at areas that you can concentrate on to improve your surfing abilities.
Technique: This includes things like where to lie on the board, where to put your feet on the board, where to put your hands, what is the correct stance, etc. In surfing, even an inch in how you position yourself on the board can make all the difference. Some techniques can, and should, be practiced out of the water.
Equipment: Not every surfboard does the same thing. That's why there are so many different types. The board needs to suit the skill level of the user, their height and weight, and the wave conditions they anticipate encountering. For example, a beginner on a short board will generally have a great deal of difficulty in getting to their feet.
The Playing Field: Surfing is not like most sports. The ocean is an ever-changing playing field with water conditions and tides changing daily and no two waves ever being the same. Being able to "read" the waves, knowing which wave is correct for surfing and understanding how the ocean works, is fundamental to being able to surf.
How good are you at solving problems and making judgments instantly? Waves don't stop to allow you to make up your mind about where and how you want to surf on the wave. A high level of fitness is important. The surfer needs:
Muscle strength in the arms and legs for paddling, crouching and turning the board.
Aerobic fitness for constant paddling and ducking under/over waves.
Flexibility to "get your legs under you".
Fear of the waves and the ocean can make it difficult for those learning to surf. But not having respect for the ocean can cause the surfer to take risks that put themselves and others in danger.