Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Surfing

5 Ways to SHREEDDDDDDD!!!!! The best way to improve your surfing, is surfing. Clearly. For those of us that aren’t fortunate enough to get in the water and surf perfect 3-5foot everyday, we need to do some land based training. I’m going to give you the top 5 ways to improve your surfing.

There are simple and effective methods to keep your body strong, flexible, pain free (mostly), and more capable of performing in the ocean.

These are the essentials to keeping yourself athletically surf-capable and combat all the gnarly stiffness, tension, sitting too much at a desk, old-man syndrome, weak-kookness. Let’s improve your surfing.

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity lately to run some seminars here in Australia going over the fundamentals of “surf-fitness”. I use that term in quotations, as it now has a similar silliness and marketing bastardization as the term holistic.

The fundamentals of surf athleticism are strikingly similar to the foundations of any type of athleticism regarding necessary joint mobility, basic strength foundations, core control, balance, coordination, and power.

After the fundamentals have been sorted out, that’s when “surf-fitness” becomes more of a different focus of training, becoming more sport specific in terms of power development and energy system training.

More people need to work on the fundamentals, which you’ll find below, so keep on reading.

 Upper Body Mobility

This extends to far more than just keeping your shoulders pain free. Optimal mobility through

This posture doesn’t help your surfing.

your thoracic spine and shoulders are paramount to paddling efficiency, rotational capacity (like doing a turn without looking like a stiff arthritic old man), and keeping your shoulder joints healthy.

If you can restore, maintain, or improve optimal thoracic spine flexibility, you’re taking a big step towards keeping all the joints of your upper body moving better. Add some quality tissue work around the shoulder girdle, and you can make a big improvement keeping the upper body moving properly…. And out of pain.

Here’s a link to a series of thoracic spine mobility drills that are a great combination with the video tissue releases from above. Thoracic Spine Mobility Drills

Hip Mobility

Watch the video here

I recently spoke to a guy who tore his MCL (medial collateral knee ligament). He tore it because his back foot slipped off his board, he went into the splits, and pop… MCL tear. If he had more hip mobility, he may have been able to avoid that knee injury, which lead to a surgery.

Your hip joint requires a large range of motion to be able to support the necessary movements surfing requires. Chronic seated postures rob people of hip mobility, but there’s a lot of simple things you can do to restore it.

Not only will it help you move more fluidly while surfing, having optimal flexibility through the hips helps to relieve possible torque on the low back and knee joints… that’s a good thing. A bit of tissue release, and some targeted stretching can considerably improve the way your hips move.


All I hope to convey is that the food you put into your body is literally the foundation of your performance, your health, your ability to recover, your ability to heal, and one of the easiest ways to improve your overall life performance.

The only requirement is that you begin to focus your effort on sourcing, and consuming the best quality real food you can find and afford. Until that basic nutritional foundation is in order, no other aspects of nutritional specifics should be considered.

If you want to start making improvements in your nutrition, give this article a read: Foundations of Surfing Nutrition

Foundational Core Strength

Hip problems? You could likely use more core strength. Back problems? You could likely use more core strength. Do you surf? You could likely use more core strength. You get the idea. The average person has a sloppy core, and I don’t mean just a few extra bread loaves around the mid-section.

I’m implying that there isn’t enough muscular control around the pelvis, the spine, and the rib cage. Surfing is rotational, and application of forces through rotation…. That is core strength.

Surfing also requires huge amounts of endurance through your back muscles, think of paddling postures. I want you to drastically reconsider the way you train your “core”. Work on breathing, work on fundamental core “stability”, and eventually progress into core movements and rotational training. Lose the long tempo planks and crunches.

Here’s an entire article covering core training for surfers: Core Training for Surfers


The quality of your breathing is a foundation of core control, shoulder health, breath control in the water, and positively influencing the nervous system. All of that is paramount to your surfing.

Even more importantly is that breathing is a foundation of your life and health, so consider this as a necessary foundation of your health. Work on your breathing. Get zen. Improve or reinstill your body’s ability to breathe diaphragmatically.

That’s the key here, utilising the diaphragm properly. Belly breaths. 3 Dimensional rib cage expansion is what we’re looking for. Stop breathing with your neck and adding unnecessary tension to the neck, shoulder musculature, and upper cervical muscles… they don’t like extra tension and can become quite painful over time.

Do you want to start breathing properly? Give these a look: Can You Breathe?

Breath Training

Those 5 Foundations, IF you work on them, can have have a dramatic improvement in how your body performs, and more importantly, how your body performs in the water.

A Few Other Things to Work On

Conditioning:  Surfing requires that your body is able to produce muscular “force”, or effort, or basically keep paddling your ass off or duck diving repeatedly.  Surfing requires that you have some basic cardiovascular capacity, or “conditioning”, also know as metabolic efficiency.

Jumprope, interval sprints, circuit training, a row machine, boxing, all of these activities require and help to improve your base ability to keep a sustained effort, which helps you keep a sustained effort in the water. So I ask, how is your condtioniong?

Foundational Strength Training: Yep, if you were stronger, it would improve your surfing. This doesn’t even need to be all the fancy “surf fitness” stuff you see nowadays most of which could do more harm than good to the average gym goer.

Basic pushups, squats, jumps, lunges, chin-ups, and basic rotational core training are the go, and progressions of those movements. If you’re stronger, if you can control your joints more efficiently, and you can produce more force, you’re obviously going to be able to transfer that to your surfing.

Get stronger, but do it in a smart way. Take a look at my fully comprehensive surf fitness program SURF ATHLETE TRAINING PROGRAM

 Skill and Technique Coaching: I recently had the chance to link up with a surfing skill coach whom I think was the best technique coach I’ve worked with. We haven’t even done in the water stuff yet, just land based movement techniques, and it’s absolutely changed my surfing. Hire a good technique coach.

How to Implement These Top 5 Methods for Improving Your Surfing

Take 15minutes per day to do something beneficial for your body. I see too many clients that had they taken some time and invested effort and maintenance in their body, they wouldn’t be seeing me for pain issues.

Consider the 5 methods I’ve mentioned and determine you which aspect you’re most deficient in. Now improve it!

Do You Want Some Guidance on How to Quickly Improve?

If you’re unsure of where to start, or what your body and your training truly requires, get in touch. [email protected] We can set up a free consult and see how I can best help you improve your surfing, your training, and your health.

Grab the Surf Athlete Program & Enhance Your Surfing & Health Today…and Forever


  • Thank you for this surf coaching. I just moved to the coast and I really want to learn how to surf. It has been on my list of things I want to accomplish for years. Your advice on improving upper mobility was most helpful. I'll be sure to do that. Susan Hirst |
  • That is so cool that there are surf coaching that will help you to become a better surfer. Didn't know that you could do yoga like this to better your surfing skills. All of things things will help you with your technique and keeping your body in great shape.

Leave a Reply