5 Lessons from 5 Conversations about Surf Mastery

    Surfing is pretty good, but it gets better. The better you get at surfing the more fun it is, and as we sharpen our surfing skills we can surf a broader variety of waves and conditions. The question then is how do we get better? How do I get better at surfing while I drive to work? When it's dark outside? When stuck inland?

One way is education. There is so much to learn about surfing, and every little thing we learn helps us to develop and inspires us to surf more. Surf coaching and physical strength/fitness are obvious ways to improve, but listening to Tom Carroll’s perspective on the way he ‘sees’ a wave and how he learnt to observe more detail in a wave gives us a paradigm shift. We have so much to learn from those who have surfed before us, not just from their technique and experience, but from their perspectives, and attitudes. A conversation with a great surfer or coach can be life changing… and has been for me.

Education and inspiration for better surfing, that is what the 'Surf Mastery Podcast' is all about. I have been privileged to interview some successful and inspiring people in the surf world, and the goal of each interview is to find out how they (or how they have helped others) to progress in the water.

Below is a quick summary some of the things I have learnt from the first 5 interviews.

1         Episode 1Matt Grainger - High-Performance Coach: Surf with surfers that are better than you, it will inspire you to get better. Watch them very closely, what they do with their arms, foot placement etc. Good surfers paddle hard, pop up fast then create ‘lift’ to generate speed. What happens before your first bottom turn is what sets up the rest of your wave. Great surfers are great paddlers and can pop up very fast. When the waves are under 4ft they throw their arms up and forward to create lift & forward momentum to generate speed, watch some surf movies in slo-mo to see this and go out and try it!

2.         Episode 2Tom Carroll - 2X World Champ: Look for the detail on the wave. Pay close attention to the finer details of the wave, the wind chops, the secondary swell, the backwash, every bump, nook, and cranny. Look at the way the light reflects off of every small ripple, look to see where and how water is moving and where it is moving most so you can generate speed. If you want to surf small waves better, then this is how. Get focused and start paying attention… and put the time in - lots of practice! 

3.         Episode 3Matt Griggs - Elite Performance Coach: Become more aware of the feeling of surfing. “you don't think balance, you feel it” Good surfers are very in touch with the ‘feeling’ of surfing, when you arefocused on the feeling then you are in the present moment, you are in touch with your body awareness, spatial awareness, and board-feel. As soon as you focus solely on your vision (what you can see) and looking for the next section 5 m away then you are living in the future... “You can't feel up ahead, your not there yet” Learn how to detach from fear, doubt, and brain chatter so you can focus on the feeling of surfing in the present moment and increase your surfing awareness. Every technical mistake in preceded by a mental one, to be in the zone we need to be present, you cannot be in the present moment if you are thinking about the future i.e. a section 5 meters away. The greater your self-awareness is, the more space and time you have to implement change and create new and better habits, be it technique, posture, grace etc.

4.   Episode 4Dr. Jeremy Sheppard - Strength & Conditioning Coach: Next level surfing requires next level strength, mobility, and athleticism and you can fast track your development using smart strength training and mobility protocols. Jeremy goes into detail on some exercises and benchmarks that have been proven beneficial for surfing. Chin-up strength has a strong correlation to sprint paddling speed - Jeremy goes into detail on this at the 15:40min mark. Top to bottom surfing can be likened to jumping and landing, learning how to jump and land correctly can increase performance and help prevent injury. If you exercise outside of surfing then this is a must listen, if you don't then this episode will inspire you to train.

5.   Episode 5Matt Scorringe - Surf Coach: Try isolating one specific aspect of your surfing i.e. speed. Spend 20 mins racing to the end of each wave as fast as you can. Experiment with how fast you can surf, forget about turns, just get to the end of the wave as quick as possible. You will be surprised how fast you can surf. Foot placement is very important, a 1cm shift can make a big difference in the way your board feels and performs. Play around with some subtle adjustments next time you surf. 

These are just some of the lessons I have learnt, but each interview has many, many gold nuggets of wisdom. Tune in and send us some feedback