Improving Your Surfing
By Cameron Christian
Whether you can barely stand on a surfboard, or you’re flying above the lip of the wave performing aerial stunts, or anywhere in between, you can improve your surfing. There are some tried and true methods and actions that are guaranteed to improve your wavering skills in and out of the water.
1.Commitment: This is like anything else in life, the more you do it, the better you get. Why is your friend doing better turns than you? He could be naturally better at surfing, but more likely he is putting in more hours than you. Simply put, if you want to be the best surfer you can be, surf every day (maybe more). This is much easier if you live in a surf friendly city!
2. Watch yourself: This is a less known improvement technique that doesn’t get used enough. Just like in any other sport, watching yourself perform is the best way to improve your own game. If you can get video of yourself surfing, you can see generally what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. This might require buying a camera, or paying a friend or local videographer. Taking this to the next level would be considering…
3. Coaching: There are an array of surf coaches out there, whether you just ask your friend who started years before you, or hire a professional to tell you how to improve, the results will be noticeable. Just listen to what they have to say. The most frustrating thing for a coach is to give advice and be ignored, so make sure you listen up. There are various online surf coaching courses available for purchase, but nothing beats hiring someone and surfing and learning under their expert guidance. Pro-tip hire a surf coach that will film you!
4. Physical Fitness: Every surf instructor has struggled with someone who cannot stand up, cannot balance on their surfboard, or cannot paddle into a wave. These are all aspects of the individuals physical fitness level. Obviously surfing is a physically demanding sport, if you want to excel, get fit. The most important skill to have when surfing, beyond the ability to swim, is one's balance. Without being able to balance on a surfboard, you’ll never be able to stand up on a wave. If you cannot stand try bodyboarding, or knee boarding, both sick alternatives. Professional surfers will always train to be in top physical shape when the waves aren’t up to their standards to practice. The most relevant skills for surfing are balance, endurance, and explosiveness.
5. Surf different waves: Every self respecting surfer must be able to ride a host of different waves, so start trying out some new breaks and see how it goes. You can find local surf breaks on Surfline. Faster, steeper waves require more technical surfing skill, so just by surfing these more difficult waves you will improve at a faster rate than if you were to stick to one mushy wave that you’re comfortable on. For an example of a fast and steep wave check out The Pipeline in Hawaii.
6. Know the waves: Personally I believe reading and understanding the waves is at least half of the skill of surfing. The better you know a wave, and how and when it breaks, the better you can ride it. Kind of like the more times you drive on a winding road, you’ll know when to hit the breaks and what turns you can take more quickly than others. Same thing with the waves. Sometimes a wave will start off with a hollow, barrel section or perhaps it will end with one. You have to know what to expect to perfect your rides. This also applies to knowing where to go…and when. If surfing better waves makes you a better surfer (it does) than a necessary skill to improve is to know where and when the good waves appear. It can take a lifetime to really understand how and what conditions breed good waves in your local area, but it is a worthy investment.
It’s possible that you have improved your surfing already just by reading this article. But probably not. Get out there and Go Surf!