Thanks. This is all really helpful. I usually end up paddling like hell for every damn wave I see and wear myself out. By commit you mean "dont pansy out" right? Don't bail at the last second or get freaked? I can totally understand that. It always seems like I'm about to bust my ass right before I catch it.
Try angling your board down the face of the wave. So if the wave is breaking left angle left and if the wave is breaking right angle right. It might help with the going over the falls thing. I can't imagine being torpedoed by a giant nsp would be too much fun.
I was a skater and snowboarder all my life and was suprised how long it took me to pick up surfing. I like you knew nobody to surf with so I was pritty much on my own and did get some tips here and there from other guys in the water.
First when your going for a wave always look around to see who else is going for it and watch to see if there is someone already on. If someone else catches it and they have right away pull out.
If you feel like your paddling but it feels sluggish or not going anywhere scoot up on your board some. If your nose dipps down into the water scoot back a little on your board.
Wind and swell direction have alot do with how the waves are breaking. If the entire wave face is breaking all at once, not pealing down the beach, then ride the whitewash, its not a good day.
If there is a peak and the waves are pealing down the beach pay attension to which direction they are going. That is the direction you want to go. If you feel that you keep going over the falls or having the wave break right on you, paddle out a little further so you can better paddle into the wave/ be moving before the wave gets to you. Mabe sit off of paddle to just the side of the peak. This may help since you may still be a little slow at poping up and will help you figure out the timing of catching a wave. Paddle hard untill you feel the lift of the wave and that it is pushing you along. Pop up you in the wave. Lean forward into the wave if you feel like you on top of it and not down in front.
Have fun and keep going it takes time to build your muscles and get the timing and knowhow down.