How To Surf Better: Improve Your Surfing Skill

How to surf better - falling

How to Surf Better – Improve Your Surfing Skill Progression

There’s something special about surfing.  Not only is it damn fun, but there’s an inherent, nearly spiritual attraction to it.  It’s an important and integral part of my life, and I’m sure the same applies to you.

Something that I personally feel is a deeply driven want, a need to improve.  I want to surf as well as I can, and have as much fun as possible in the process. I also want to do it for as long as I possibly can in this wild thing we call life.

Since you’re here reading this blog, I’d be fairly certain you feel that drive as well.

Let’s get better at surfing

I want to give you a framework of mental awareness of How to Surf Better.  It’s essentially Skill Progression, so let’s help you to improve your surfing.

What follows is very a basic template of what I teach on our Surf Coaching Trips.

Embrace the Failure… of How to Surf Better

Progression and success is not linear.  It’s nowhere near being a straight line and is more akin to a scrambled assortment of dots and a knotted line, which over time reflects a slow accuracy of progression.

You need to become completely accepting of this, and mentally aware of the inherent need for failure.  Frustration will arise, along with some self-disappointment at times, which especially true for those of you that are driven Type-A’s.  Just respect the process and appreciate the culmination of lessons in the water over time.   Within those moments of frustration, don’t forget the fun! Never ever ever ever forgot that surfing is truly fun and deeply good for the soul.

How to Surf Better - embrace failure
As with anything in life, success takes time and effort. This rings heavily true for things that are difficult in terms of physical skill. Surfing is hard when we talk about getting better, especially when you pick it up later in life.

You’ve heard of that 10,000 hours rule?  To accumulate that time, and truly improve a skill that is inherently difficult (surfing),  you’re going to have to suck for a while, and you’re going to need to fall.  A lot.  And then fall some more.

How to surf better - falling
Check this image of me falling at HT's. That wave still haunts my thoughts, as it would've been an absolute cracker! I proceeded to hit the reef, broke a leash, and swam across the reef to get my board that had washed up on the beach. Since this failure IS the process, you better embrace the inherent need for failure, and then learn from it.

I see surfing as an intrinsic reflection of life.  Learn from it.  Learn from the failures, learn from the mental hurdles, and apply awareness and growth to those failures (lessons).  Learn from the falls.

**Get some coaching on the way too!  Cough Cough Cough… join our Surf Coaching Trips!   It will dramatically improve that non-linear line to success.  As I mentioned, surfing is hard, and most people blindly throw themselves at it with no understanding, no practice, and just try to piece it together.  Any other sport or activity that is inherently technical and requires broad scopes of understanding… people hire coaches.  They get coached to learn the fundamentals and then break their bad habits.  They practice a golf swing over and over and over.

How To Surf Better – Stages of Learning

This image is a wonderful example of what I see to be the most relevant stages of learning when pursuing surf improvement.

Unconscious Incompetence:

This stage is all about the reality that you do stuff wrong (surfing), but you’re not even aware of it. Ignorance is bliss.

Conscious Incompetence:

Become aware.  Aware of what surfing truly is, the movements, the actual technique, the fundamentals of the actual skill.  Once you become aware, you can look at your own surfing through a more realistic lens, and realise, “oh shit (face palm), I embarrassingly suck!”  Don’t worry, we’ve all been there, and there will be aspects of that realisation for the rest of your surfing life no matter your skill level.  This stage is all about the reality that you do stuff wrong, like the full-wave poo-man, but now you’re aware of it.  You’re conscious of the sucking.   Now you need that coaching, so get signed up for one of our Coaching Trips.  This is the learning process, the repetition, the building of new motor patterns.

Conscious Competence:

This is all about learning and application.  Repeated efforts, repeated fails, culminating in more consistent success.  You’re becoming competent at better skills, improved surfing, and breaking bad habits.  You are succeeding, yet it’s still taking a focused effort. The “aha!” moments on the wave face are happening with more consistency.

Unconscious Competence:

You’re shredding.  You’re surfing in flow.  It’s becoming instinctual and reactionary.  You intake the information down the line, and you simply respond…successfully!

This process will then repeat, forever.

There is always more to work on, some habits holding you back, progression to larger surf, new boards, complexity, and flow.

That is why surfing is so absolutely damn incredible, and a life long pursuit.

1 Comment

  • great stuff! Just surfed the Dorian swell in Florida ...and I think i will be utilizing your stuff more.

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