After a certain amount of time, you're going to find yourself comfortably being able to stand up on your board with a measurable amount of consistency. You can successfully paddle in to the wave, you recognize the feeling of your board moving on its own, and you can pop up to your feet. For a lot of beginners, your time standing on the board will have been limited to "surfing" a slough of whitewater as you careen straight towards shore as your big, beefy board wobbles through the soupy mess. You may be completely satisfied with this experience. But, you're really missing out on the good stuff. You possibly left a nice clean wave face behind you that you could've been surfing on had you not gone straight.
Here's the deal. You don't want to ride whitewater. It sucks. It's messy, bumpy, slow, disorganized, etc. Whitewater usually is indicative of the end of your ride; not the beginning. This is why you see surfers riding their boards along the nice open face of the wave - the "shoulder". They are riding away from the whitewater. And any wave good enough to surf will require you to pretty much ride somewhat parallel to the beach to stay out of the whitewater rather than straight towards the beach.
So how do you get your board to go parallel to the beach? I mean, you're basically pointing towards the beach when you're paddling for the wave, right? Ah...maybe you should rethink that. Why? Your board will basically go where you point it if you don't adjust its position by applying pressure to the board to make a turn towards another angle on our surfing compass. As a beginner, thinking about trying to turn your board towards the open face the second you stand up may be too much to concentrate on in the heat of the moment. After all, surfing can be a complicated combination of physical movements. So why don't you cut yourself a break and give your board a head start towards that open shoulder while you're paddling. When the wave approaches you, look which way it is breaking (left or right). If the whitewater or peak is coming from your left shoulder (with your back to the wave), the wave is breaking to the right and vice-versa.
Now, point your board 35-45 degrees away from that peak and start paddling. You're basically aiming to split the 90 degree angle between "straight ahead" and that open face you see before you. It's very important to look where you want to go and not what your board is doing. As stated before, your board goes where you point it. Where you are looking is a big factor on where that board will point. As you stand up, keep EYEBALLING where you want that board to continue going. You're already ahead of the game by having your board going halfway parallel to the beach on takeoff. Now just keep looking down that nice open face as you drop in and you will be surprised at how your body automatically starts doing its thing to get that board going towards the direction you are looking.
What will also surprise you is how your board will probably pearl less often if you quit pointing your board straight to the beach on takeoff. When you angle your drop, your board gets to utilize more rail surface. This rail surface kind of gouges itself into the face of the wave and helps to keep it steady and locked in for you. Eventually, when you get better at turning your board, you can augment that angled drop by immediately hard-turning your board even further parallel to shore as you're dropping down the face. It'll really sink that inside rail into the face and you can handle steeper waves like that.
So, to reiterate...
- Point your board towards the open face of the wave.
- Look where you want to go along that open face.
- Avoid going straight until the end of your ride.