What Is A Grom In Surfing? - Green Iguana Surf Camp

What Is A Grom In Surfing?

Moreso than almost any other industry, the surfing world is a smorgasbord of creative, fascinating, and sometimes confusing slang (thanks Australia).

What Is A Grom In Surfing?

While some terms are obvious or common enough to be easily translated, such as ‘wipeout’, ‘pop-up’, or ‘white water’, there are some that require a little more of an explanation to understand.  That’s where we come in. 

What Is A Grom?

‘Grom’ is a shortened form of the slang term ‘Grommet’ and plainly speaking a grommet is a child.  When someone refers to a grom or grommet while talking about surfing, they will be referring to a child or adolescent surfer.

It is a term that is most commonly used within Australian and Californian surfing groups.  The term grommet seems to have evolved from ‘gremmie’ or ‘gremlin’ used to refer to young and novice surfers in the UK in the 60’s. 

The History Of A Grom

Once a derogatory term used to describe surfers with little skill or talent, it has evolved over the years into a term that encompasses all young participants of surfing and other extreme sports. 

If you are a surfer under the age of 16, you will likely be referred to as a grom or a grommet but don’t worry, it’s all in good faith! While in the past young or newbie surfers would have found themselves on the receiving end of a bit of prejudice or light hazing, attitudes have changed.

This is largely in part due to the incredible talent that has emerged from young professional surfers who weren’t hindered by having to use boards that were too big for them, thanks to the development of grom surfboards.

What Is A Grom Surfboard?

With a newfound understanding of what a grom is, it is easy to work out that a grom surfboard is for child and adolescent surfers, but why are they important? And how do they differ from an adult surfboard?

Firstly, the main feature of a grom surfboard is its dimensions. A grom surfboard is typically 19-20” wide, narrower than an average surfboard.

This is so that a young surfer, a grom, can reach over the board to paddle effectively. Children, whilst growing all the time, have a smaller arm span than full-grown adults, and therefore require a narrower board.

More than just convenience and ease of use, there are important safety issues to consider with a board that cannot be effectively paddled or controlled because it is too large for the surfer.

It’s important to remember that surfing is an extreme sport and minimizing the chance of things going wrong is the most important thing.

A grom surfboard is also more voluminous than an adult surfboard. This facilitates an easier paddle out past the impact zone and into waves, a great feature in both the interests of safety again and in assisting surfers whose muscles aren’t fully developed yet.

Once a surfer reaches their last few years as a grom this will become less necessary, but still a nice bonus, especially towards the end of longer sessions.

With the right surfboard, groms can experience modern surfing technology and master surfing at a much younger age.

With their development and skill never hindered, it paves the way for even more incredible skills to be developed and invented at a professional level.

What Is A Grom In Surfing?

What Should You Look For In A Grom Surfboard?

As with any extreme sport, the equipment you use is instrumental in whether you will be successful or not. If you are buying a grom surfboard, there are a few extra things you need to consider than you would with an adult surfboard.  

First off, as mentioned above, the width is paramount. Although grom surfboards don’t vary wildly in their width, it is important to make sure that the grommet using the board can comfortably reach both sides of the board deck when laying on it.

Once the correct width has been established, and the grom is confident they could paddle easily, we can move on to more measurements.

We all know that kids grow ludicrously quickly, but don’t worry, with some smart measuring you won’t be buying a new board every few months. As a child grows their height obviously increases, but so does their weight.

The latter of which is very important when selecting an appropriate surfboard.  Surfboard companies recommend when buying a grom surfboard you select a board that is 1-2 feet longer than the grom’s height.

This extra length ensures that the grom’s next few growth spurts are covered as well as adding a little extra volume to assist with easy paddling. 

A final important feature to think about when purchasing a grom surfboard is the shape of the tail. Because of the nature of grom surfboards, there is no need to look at overly technical tails, groms aren’t going to be catching any huge waves or hanging 10.

Sticking with a simple square or squash tail is good enough for the type of surfing that grom surfboards allow, smaller, playful waves, perfect for learning the basics.

Once you have selected a board for your grom, the more they use it the better. More than just simply a board to practice and improve on, a grom surfboard is a great way for young surfers to begin to find what different board shapes can do, and what shapes they prefer, helping to shape them into accomplished and comfortable surfers.

Final Thoughts

Groms, while historically an easy target for hazing and poking fun, are ultimately the future of surfing. With advances in technology and attitudes, groms have gained access to more and better surfing technology than ever before, helping to shape a bright future for the sport.  

Next time you’re in the lineup and you see a grom, don’t just call them a kook, offer them advice or encouragement, and build up the future of surfing!

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