5 Top tips that will help improve your surfing (without actually surfing)
There is no better way than surfing every day to improve your surfing but because of the surfing conditions, your schedule or your location it is sometimes hard to surf as much as we would like to.
Also, you will notice as you pass through the stages of surfing development that you can stagnate because of your lack of strength, confidence or dedication.
We’re going to give you some tips to improve your surfing wherever you are.
You will need some to do some endurance type of exercise to feel ready when you finally do make it back in the surf. You can choose between many sports like running, boxing and tennis but specificity is really the key. Swimming is easily the sport with the most cross-over to surfing. It’s in the water for starters, forces you to train your breathing and uses the same muscle groups as paddling. Let’s face it, you never really forget how to surf, but getting out the back and catching waves is the biggest problem for weekend warriors and part time surfers alike. Swimming will definitely help keep you fit for your next surf but also take your surfing to the next level by helping you get into position much better when on your board.
Breath Training for surfers
While you are down at the swimming pool there is another excercise which is great to do that will not only improve your paddle fitness, but also help your confidence in the ocean. Breath Enhancement Training. It involves relaxing under water, holding your breath and trying to slow your heart rate down so your body doesn’t use up oxygen at a fast rate. You should definitely get advice before trying this but there are a number of techniques that can really help you hold your breath for longer. Make sure you do some research before you do it, but give it a go. Next time you get held under a five wave set and get caught on the inside you will think back and thank all the training you did.
Apnea Australia run breath training courses for surfing that will really help.
Yoga / Pilates for Surfers
Like the training above, yoga is also great for breathing control. The one thing that causes most drownings is when people panic. Their heart rate goes up, they stop thinking logically and lose control of their breath. By controling your breath you can settle your mind and be clear in your actions.
Yoga is as good for your your mental side as it is your physical side.
Mentally it helps you stay clear and calm. There is no rushing in surfing and that’s evident when you meet most surfers. The best athletes look like they have all the time in the world and it’s no different here. With positive though and a calm approach surfing is a much easier activity.
Physically, yoga is great for surfers. It helps you release tension in your muscles, become more flexible and gets you stronger in your core. Surfers that are flexible find the take-off much easier. This will allow you to get in a much better position on the wave from the start. If you are in a good position you will have more speed and having more speed means you can do bigger manoeuvres. You need good core strength to pull off these manoeuvres and yoga will help this also.
Check out Yoga for Surfers to find some good poses that support strength and flexibility for your surfing muscles.
Ok, so you don’t have an ocean or a wave pool in your back yard. Don’t worry! I’m sure there’s a hill around somewhere… And there’s some fantastic new skateboards on the market that help imitate the movement patterns of surfing. Streetboardz are probably the best on the market at this point and are great fun. We use them in our Surf Camps as a great way of helping our students understand how to move their arms and create speed. They are also great for practising your bottom turns and top turns and they’re not too expensive. A really easy and fun way to keep the feeling of surfing alive without having the beach on your doorstep.
Another good way of keeping your feet on the board without being in the ocean is to try a balance board. Again, there are a few options out there when it comes to balance boarding and the best thing is you don’t even have to leave the lounge room to use them. While they don’t completely replicate the movement of surfing, they do help improve your surfing by improving your balance, leg and core strength which are both important physical attributes of a good surfer. Wonky Boards are a great one as they allow you to good forward and back, spin around and angle left and right due to their inventive design. But if you can’t afford one, grab a piece of wood and a round cylinder and do your best!
“Your body is your temple” or so they say. Now for most people their temple consists of bread, coffee and beer. Although this also sounds good, it’s not the best preparation for a physical sport like surfing. With all the yoga, balance boarding, skateboarding and swimming you’re about to do, you need to remember to refuel with the right stuff.
Plenty of vegetables, a bit of meat and limited bread and other processed food. Eat fruit, don’t have too much alcohol and try to limit your coffee to one a day. If you can go further, cut the bad stuff out altogether. Eat raw food where possible, add some fermented vegetables in your diet for a healthy gut. Eat as many anti-oxidant high foods as you can.
If you stick to the motto Fresh, Local, Organic you can’t really go wrong. But above all, do everything in moderation.
Weight Training and Strength Exercises
I know I know I know. Going to the gym strength sucks, but it does help a lot to improve your surfing. Core strength, upper body strength and hip strength (basically everything) . Those are all super helpful when trying to realise your surfing goals. Not only will it help you paddle, it will also help you throw buckets (reference to throwing a lot of spray) and get a lot of power which will improve your surfing.
Not to mention if you are looking for the ultimate goal of getting barrelled, you’ll definitely need some strength to hold your line. You don’t see too many big wave surfers with chicken legs and shoulders like a snake. They are built and its for good reason: to improve their surfing!! The ocean can be a powerful beast and to take it on and win strength training is key.