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Surf lifesaving is a great activity for growing a child’s confidence, knowledge and skills in the beach environment. Not only will your child have fun and meet new friends, they will become part of an iconic organisation that has served the Australian community for over 100 years.

Nippers is a fun way for children aged 5 to Under 14 to enjoy the beach in a safe environment. The Junior Development Program is designed to ensure children have fun at the beach while participating in lessons that will give them a pathway to becoming a fully rounded participant in both lifesaving and sport.

Nippers includes the Junior Development Program which is designed to ensure children have fun at the beach, while participating in lessons that will provide them with a pathway to become a qualified surf lifesaver and a junior competitor (surf sport). Competition plays an important role in helping to strengthen and develop the skills of surf lifesavers.

Nippers at the beach;

Surf Life Saving Clubs create and tailor a program to suit the needs of their members and their beach conditions. The program will be focused on participation and enjoyment and will not just be built around competition. The goal is to increase the confidence and skill base of the nippers in the water and the sand.


A child may join nippers as soon as they turn five years of age.

A child who reaches five years of age after 30 September may join nippers at that time; however, this child will be required to stay in the U6 nippers age group again the following season.

The age group that your child will be in is determined by the age they are as at the 30th September the year you are joining.

For example, if your child was 11 on the 30th September (turning 12 on the 5th Oct) they will be in the Under 12 age group (even though they are 12).

No. The age group that your child will be in for the whole season is determined by the age they are as at the 30th September the year you are joining.

Most members join the club nearest to their home, or where their friends or family are members.

To find out more about Surf Life Saving Clubs in NSW including nipper days, times, costs and club size, please click here to find your closest club.

This varies at each club, yet the majority do ask that a parent join and remain a member for the duration of nippers.

Contact your local club for more information and requirements.

It certainly helps.

Your child will need to complete a Preliminary Skills Assessment including a swim and a float which clubs will conduct either at the beach or in a pool environment.

This is carried out before participating in any junior activity to assess their swimming and self-survival ability in the water.

This will determine whether they can progress to the water based junior activities under normal water safety supervision or they will require closer supervision.

Surf Life Saving does not provide specific learn to swim training or stroke correction. This is strongly encouraged to be taken up externally.

Some clubs may be better placed to assist with the provision of this coaching and links to these programs. However, your child will benefit enormously and increase their confidence through exposure to water-based activities including swimming and board paddling.

A Water Safety Supervisor (WSS) is appointed for all water-based activities.

The WSS conducts a risk assessment at the start of each session, and monitors conditions throughout – activities are adapted and can be cancelled in hazardous situations.

Water Safety Personnel (WSP) are qualified and proficient lifesavers who provide surveillance and assistance in the water if required with lifesaving equipment.

You will see them on the beach in their orange high-visibility cap and rash shirt stating ‘Water Safety’ on the front and back for easy identification.

The U6 and U7 Surf Play program is all about fun, participation and building confidence.

The lesson plans consist of surf education, personal safety, running and flags, swimming, wading, and lots of other fun games and activities!

Swimmers, club cap, long sleeve t-shirt or rash vest, a sun hat, towel, water, snack and sunscreen.

Most clubs have stocks of their branded apparel – speak to your club for prices and availability.

Each age group has an award which is achieved by participation throughout the season.

The award celebrates the new skills and knowledge which have been learnt.

Your child will need to attend and participate in all the compulsory sessions to attain the award.

Award certificates may be emailed to you by your club or printed and presented at the end of season.

An Age Manager is a member of the club who takes responsibility for the instruction of an age group throughout the season.

All Age Managers are trained and hold a current Working with Children Checks (WWCC) as required in line with state legislation.

If you are interested in helping with the delivery of Nippers and becoming an Age Manager or (or maybe even becoming a surf lifesaver yourself!), speak to your club – we love our parents getting involved!

There are lots of ways you can get involved at the club.

If becoming an Age Manager or surf lifesaver is not for you, there are plenty of other tasks that will need completing at your club!

Perhaps you could help with training, coaching, officiating, fundraising or cooking the Club BBQ? All parents who get involved must become a member of their club.

Clubs can choose to participate in the Active Kids Program if they wish.

To find out if your club is participating, click here.

For more information on the Active Kids Voucher redemption process, please visit this page of our website.

Surf Life Saving NSW continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on nippers.

Clubs have been provided with a range of guidelines, tools, and support to ensure that junior activities can continue safely during the pandemic.

If you wish to see the latest information, please visit our COVID-19 information page.

Note that your club may have additional measures in place over and above what is advised on the SLSNSW webpage.

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