Foundations For Athletes, Humans, Surfers


Foundation training: A couple of years ago I made some videos about stretching “for surfers” and threw them up on YouTube.

I wrote a few blog posts, filmed a few more videos, threw them on the internet, kept on doing it, and here I am a few years later getting to teach seminars to surfers.

It’s pretty rad. You also feel like a total knob watching yourself on YouTube vids, it’s crazy embarrassing at times.

The last month I was fortunate enough to be able to work with a couple different groups of surfers / athletes in California, and got to teach alongside some really great coaches and physical therapists at these recent seminars.

I’ve found that I really enjoy teaching, and presenting seminars gives me some good insight into what the “average” athlete / human / surfer should really work on. I also get to see what the average dude or dudette has problems with.

I’m going to share a few thoughts that stuck out from the last few seminars, what you should work on, some and some things you should consider.… here we go.


Skill practice is in the water. Quit trying to be overly “functional” with your training. Save the “functional training” for your surf time.

Foundations then Skill.. at the top, in the water.

Skill… hire a technique coach. I have, and it was awesome, and I’ll do it again. Unless your Slater, or one of the other top guys, you probably have some really bad habits in the surf, and you’re probably not even aware of it.

Get a coach, get filmed, see how bad you suck, then improve. Skill is gained in the water. The same can be said for golf, playing a piano, bjj, so just hire a coach.

Skill sits on top of Performance (strength, power, endurance), and Performance sits on top of Fundamentals of Movement. You need to improve Fundamentals, then improve Performance, and those foundations help you to improve your skill.

Doing 4 sets of 6reps of strength based dynamic cable chops isn’t going to suddenly make you lay down massive full rail frontside power carves (Pete Mendia style), but they will give you the strength capacity so you have the strength and movement foundations to start working on those turns.

That needs to be very clear, and generally gets completely bastardized. Gym time or training time is to improve your capacity, so that you can continue to expand your skill in the water.

Make sure you can move properly, get stronger in those movements, expand your power potential, and then go surf.

** Fancy elite-level internet “surf fitness”.. it can be good stuff, if you’re a pro, or you’ve been training for a long time and have the movement requirements and strength bases.

Most of you reading this, you need to spend time working on the basics. If you’ve got questions about your training, what to change, what to work on, how to improve.. holler at me, and we can set up a Skype consult.


Most people simply can’t move properly. If you can’t move properly in basic movement patterns (squat, lunge, push, pull, bend, twist…those are the relevant movement patterns in surfing), how do you expect to improve the skill?

Squats and Pushups. Oh my god, tear my eyes out and pour some salt in them…. that’s how I feel when I see most people squat or do pushups. Not to be harsh, but it generally sucks.

No sweat, it’s ok, as that person probably hasn’t had any quality instruction before. Change that, now, really, learn some quality movement training. Holler at me or find someone else credible.

For our sake today, I want to impress upon you the need to be able to do a perfect squat (bodyweight first), and a pushup.

Those basic movements have so much carryover for your movement in the surf, in life, and your training/foundation training.

Being able to control your joints properly, moving efficiently through your hips and ankles, building control around the spine and torso, strengthening your shoulders, core integration, and the list goes on.

This stuff is important and helps to build more durability, athletic capacity, and the fundamentals of movement… so you can get stronger… you can improve your skill… and so you can surf better, or pain free, or shred gnar.

Why a squat pattern? Bottom turns, compression for large turns, landing floaters or airs, having strength through the legs, adequate mobility through the lower body joints so you can get into dynamic positions, improving joint durability, handling the return forces from heavy turns…. you should see why it’s relevant.

Why a pushup?  Basic upper body pushing strength for pop ups, duck dives, shoulder health, core integration, these are important things man!

Want to get to fancy pushups on suspension straps, or high speed medicine ball throws, high speed pushups, or just keep your shoulders strong? Start with basic pushups. No head sag, no core sag, don’t sag into the scapula… tight perfect pushups.

** For upper body joint health, posture, and strong paddling, your pulling mechanics and movements are just as important.



Listen up folks, you have this body that is pretty incredible. It has huge amounts of potential, and people generally treat it like shit. They take better care of their tv’s or their cars, or their golf clubs. There needs to be a better understanding of general body maintenance and how to improve yourself and the way you move.

If you consistently treat your body like shit, do you really expect it to perform well in the surf, or any other athletic movement activity?

Body maintenance extends to nutrition, thoughts, hydration, quality movement…. but right now I’m talking about tissue work. You need to take some time and learn the basics of myofascial release and stretching.

Shoulder pain… learn this stuff. Your knee bothers you.. learn this stuff. Training a lot or surfing a lot… learn this stuff. Is this pattern becoming familiar? Learn this stuff.

The kindergarten explanation is this: Roll around on a tennis ball or foam roller, help to reduce excess muscle tone, adhesion, fascial restriction, whatever you want to call it.

It can help reduce “stiffness” in tissue that may be limiting your range of motion, or help to eliminate tiggerpoints that may be contributing to your pain syndromes.

It’s a feel good hurt, and can make a very big impact on how you feel and how you move. Here’s a recent post about the Tennis Balls:  Improving Flexibility for Surfers & Getting Out of Pain

Generally, surfers / athletes / humans don’t consider this tissue work or actually taking care of themselves until their in the midst of a massive pain syndrome or injury. That’s a bit too late. Get into this stuff now. Get your foundation training right.

Learn how to loosen up the tissue around the shoulder. Get your hips moving better. Improve the tissue quality around your knee joint. Make sure you can rotate properly (if you can’t rotate, how do you expect yourself to turn fast and powerfully in the surf?).

This stuff is easy, can be done with a tennis ball, and can make a massive impact on the way your body feels and moves… just a few minutes per day, a few times per week.



Improve the Way You Move
Eliminate Pain, Prevent Injury, and Move Better in the Water.



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