Today we talk about how to surf better by following these simple 8 rules.
1. Powerful Paddling
The experts say we paddle for about 70-80% of our surf session, so it’s needless to stress how important it is to have a decent stroke. It’s easy to forget this in the midst of a panic paddle for a wave, but make it a conscious act next time you’re out. See for yourself how much easier the paddle out feels and how much easier it is to get on to the wave when you have a long and powerful stroke.
2. Deeper Duckdives
Duckdiving requires a lot of upper body strength, something that doesn’t come naturally to most girls. It’s especially difficult if you’re still riding a buoyant beast of a board as a learner (in which case, shifting all your weight forward and using your knee to help sink the board really helps). I started to focus on pushing down harder with my arms to go deeper, then directing the movement of the board forward to oppose the force of the wave, rather than just lazily floating up when the wave had passed. Once you have reached the surface, start paddling immediately! I found that putting more energy into your duckdives, actually helps to conserve your energy by making the paddle
The ability to read the waves comes with experience in the water. At the intermediate level, you should be able to identify where the peak of the wave will be and so position yourself just behind it to get ready for a set. However, it’s not as simple as that for many of us because fear gets in the way. Often we force ourselves away from the peak and sit a few meters across, on the shoulder of the wave where it will be smaller and you won’t have to compete with all the experienced surfers. Seems like a great idea, right? Wrong! It’s actually harder to catch a wave on the shoulder than it is on the peak because it tends to jack up and become steeper in that section, which makes the takeoff extra challenging. However, on the peak it tends to be less steep and more forgiving for the takeoff. So, even though it’s bigger on the peak, it’s actually easier, not to mention heaps more fun. So next time you’re out among the competition, be confident and sit on the peak. You have just as much right to be there as anyone else does.
4.No Knee Pop Up
I don’t know a single female surfer that hasn’t struggled to shake off the step up, instead of pop up, bad habit when moving from a minimal to a shortboard. On a shortboard, your toes are dangling off the end of your board, there’s nowhere for your legs to help you propel up to standing, so we slide up to our knee and step up from there. This becomes a two-step motion, where the knee shifts all your weight back and you lose a lot of speed before you’ve even stood up, causing the wave to race away from you leaving your positioning on the wave all wrong.
I’ve been doing some land training to increase my upper body and core strength every morning to make my popups more explosive. Every time I go to popup, I now focus my attention on my back foot to make sure it goes straight to standing and I know the front foot will take care of itself. Once you’ve mastered the popup, you will see a dramatic improvement in the rest of your surfing because the take off will either set you up for a fail or an ace wave.
5. Angle Your Board
When you start to ride bigger, steeper waves it‘s very important to angle your board diagonally across the wave on the take off. Some waves may look like a vertical decent into certain death when you’re angled straight down the face, but if you change your angle by about 45degrees to face down the line then waves that seemed totally unridable become super fun, fast rides. To do this you’ll need to paddle harder than you would normally as the force of the wave won’t help you as much and dig your inside rail into the wave. Also, it’s vitally important, DON’T LOOK DOWN!!! The rule of surfing is, where you look is where you will go. So if you look down the wave on the takeoff, then, not only will you freak yourself out by how high and steep it is, but you’ll also go that way and it probably won’t be pretty. Instead, set your sights around 5m across the wave and look where you want to go, because that way, you’ll get there.
6. Mind Over Matter
It’s so easy to get bogged down with negative emotions and to beat yourself up during a session when things aren’t going your way. Someone in the line up might be an aggressive surfer and always drop in on you, or you may not be performing as well as usual. Whatever the reason, those negative thoughts are only going to have a negative impact on your surfing. I can’t tell you the amount of times I could have caught a wave, but failed because I didn’t have faith in myself or my board. I firmly believe that a huge proportion of surfing ability comes from mind control. On another fateful sunset surf, I sought advice from a wise old surfer who told me to “Stop thinking!” Genius! As well as the Zen approach, I also find positive affirmations really effective. Change all your I can’t‘s into I can‘s and all your negatives into positives. You’ll be so much happier for it.
7. Say Hi
A friendly smile and a hello can go a long way. Call me a weirdo, but I can’t help but find it awkward when you’re sharing the waves with a stranger in a vast empty ocean and neither of you even acknowledges each other’s existence. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to exchange life stories or anything, I enjoy the peace and tranquility of the sea as much as the next person. But a passing comment from a happy fellow surfer definitely changes the vibe for the better and instills a feeling of unison amongst everyone in the water. It’s all about having fun and as they say, happiness is only real when shared. You’ve got the power to be that happy surfer who changes the vibe, so do it!
Ultimately, most of surfing performance is based on power. It’s vital in every aspect of surfing, from duckdiving, paddling, to popups and turning. You won’t realize how vital it is until you do a bit of land training and see the difference for yourself. Incorporate some sit-ups, press-ups, the plank, squats and popups into your daily morning routine and you’ll see a massive improvement in your surfing after just a couple of weeks. This extra power will be the driving force to propel your surfing onto a whole new level.
These are the top 8 things I concentrate on when I’m in the water, but the one thing I never forget is that, when it comes down to it, it’s all about having fun. Feel free to leave a comment and share any gems of advice you’ve been given about surfing throughout your experience. Share the knowledge and spread the stoke.