2020/2021 Edition NSSIA Instructor Training Manual and Self Study Guide
for Surf & SUP Instructors and Coaches
Authored by many. Compiled and edited by Dr. Bruce Gabrielson

Thanks for your interest in the NSSIA certified instructor or coaching program. You are about to join the growing ranks of professionals in our exciting sport of surfing. This course was prepared by some of the most prominant names in the surf instruction and surf coaching field. It contains a significant amount of both background information and practical tips aimed at helping you become the best that you can be. Primary authors of the current required chapters include: Dr. Robert Scott, Dr. Bruce Gabrielson, Peter Pan, Ian Cairns, Kim Hamrock, Cathy Liberatori, Jill Nakano, and Ryan Rustin.

This manual is for all certified instructors and coaches and is updated continuously. We realize all instructors and coaches will benefit from reading this and hope it helps in improving the level of instruction and coaching wordwide. While annual renewals are required for our certified instructors, no further examination at your level is necessary once you complete our entire NSSIA process. For first time applicants, the certification process consists of the following steps. Note that applicants are not sent the self study exam until a formal application and application fees are received.

Initial Application Submission Requirements

$50 Application Fee plus $10 for each additional certification
Resume of Experience (Note: Must support level applying for)
Reference Letters
CPR Training Certificate

Self Study training exam is Provided to the Applicant

Applicant returns Signed NSSIA Waiver
Applicant returns Self Study Examination

Upon completion of the self study, you are provisionally certified. You are expected to attend and complete the formal online NSSIA Training Course and course exam when the self study is received. There is an additional $50 fee required for the final class and exam.

Membership cards issued for annual reaffirming of continuing experience as a coach or instructor. Annual reaffirming is required to meet the ISO annual audit requirement.

Only upon submission of the background material and after completing the examination with a passing grade, you will have completed the initial process and receive your certificate.

Please note that this course was compiled and is for the use of NSSIA applicants only. Do not pass the along to other potential instructors without receiving written permission from the NSSIA.

The course material is provided in several parts. The parts are focused on: history and background about the NSSIA, core information about surfing and the environment, basic instructional concepts, basic coaching skills unique to surfing, business information and laws that you need to know about, and finally basic information all instructors should know about board building and board repair. The exam you receive is tailored to cover material for all certifications applied for. Note that self study exam questions may be drawn from all sections.

S = Req for Surf Instructor Certification
C = Req for Coching Certification
SUP = Req for SUP Certification
D= Req for Surf Dog Instructor Certification


  • Introduction to the NSSIA S,C,SUP
    ANSI Certification Requirements

  • Early History of Surfing S,C,SUP (Ocean only)
  • Modern History of Surfing S,C,SUP (Ocean only)

  • Beach Environment S,C,SUP

  • Teaching Fundamentals and Theory S,C,SUP

  • Surf Instruction Techniques-Beginners S,C
    On The Beach Lesson Plan

  • Surf Instruction Techniques-Advanced Students S
  • Surf Etiquette S,C,SUP
    Law of the Surf Forum

  • Camps and Events S,C
    Camp Environmental Impact Plan

  • Injuries and Treatments S,C,SUP
    Skin Cancer Bruchure S,C,SUP
    DRBC Plan
    Emergency/Contingency Plan & When Blood is Exposed
    Sample Accident Report Form

  • Conditioning, Warm-ups and Muscle Building S,C,SUP (recommended for all)
    Surf Training and Conditioning for Overweight Old Folks

  • Business and Laws S,C,SUP
    Employee Training Guide for School Owners
    Creating a Marketing Plan
    Surf School Proposal
    Site Plan Example
    Formal Risk Analysis Scoring

  • Team and Professional Coaching S,C

  • Contest Judging S,C,SUP
    Sample Judges Sheet
    Sample Judges Sheet Filled Out
    Video required for Coaching Cert - must be requested
    Judges Score Sheet Key

  • Dangers in the Water S,C,SUP
    Surf Rescue Techniques

  • Academic Outreach and Formal Course Development - Academic Outreach for Teachers
    Sample Surf Class Lesson Plan
    Oregon State University Surf Class Course Outline


  • SUP General Instructions - SUP
    US Coast Guart SUP Watercraft Regulations

  • SUP Ocean Surf Instructions - SUP

  • SUP Flatwater Surf Instructions - SUP

  • SUP Coaching Certification Supplement SUP C Only


  • Certification Program Manual D only

  • Instructors Annual Review Course - Pt 1
  • Instructors Annual Review Course - Pt 2 Pandemic Startup Information

  • Guidelines for School Startup after Pandemic


  • Agenda for a Foil Clinic (includes background and history)

  • SELECTED SECTIONS from "The Complete Surfing Guide for Coaches"

  • Learning to Surf S,C

  • Shaping Surfboards S,C

  • Board Glassing S,C

  • Surfboard Repairs S,C,SUP
  • If you are newly certifying and have completed this course, submit your exam and you will receive your provisional certificate and membership card. Good Luck!!!

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