Psychology for surfers: Things you didn’t know


Just because you’re in the lineup waiting for a wave doesn’t mean you have to sit there patiently. Next time you’re in the lineup incorporate psychology before your next ride and how you want to approach it.

You may enjoy some wipe outs however majority of the time they suck. Use of psychology assists you to become more mentally prepared. So making takeoffs and pulling into the perfect wave will become common

Surfers can become easily frustrated while they wait between ridden waves. So next time “mindsurf”the waves that are related to the conditions. This is an effective tool to use even by elite athletes such as Kelly Slater. He states that when he is in tune with the waves he mind surfs. “I watch the waves and feel the movements in my body which is kind of useful”.

Although Surfing consists a lot of physical attributes, it is important to understand the mental aspects of  surfing. This is due to the fact that our brain controls everything. If we train it right we can be prepared and execute the perfect takeoffs, turns or even barrels.

Self Communication

Self talk or self communication can be incredibly effective in surfing and using this will improve your surfing. use of psychology techniques is crucial to make positive self talk a habit .

Although this is not easy to do and it takes time to accomplish. Initially during psychology your self talk might be negative. For example: “there is no way I am making this drop”. In this situation it is essential to not take this thought for what it is, instead learn to challenge this negative talk. To achieve a solution use other psychology confidence boosting techniques. Mind surfing would be an ideal option.

Following the procedures will lead to positive talk  For example, “I am going to make this drop” as confidence is already gained and the ride will only be positive from there on.

Take on board this visual imagery to allow you to be prepared and focused.  By doing so it will open new avenues to look at the situation in a different perspective leading to positive talk to arise.

Additionally consider these inspirational words quoted by Mahatma Ghandi : “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviour”.

Psychological techniques improving excitement levels

Before heading to shred on waves, different arousal states will be experienced. Determining factors are height of waves (small or big), amount of people (uncrowded or crowded) and breaks you are surfing (beach or reef). Psychology techniques can help improve your arousal state and surf performance.

It is important to combine other psychological techniques in order to improve your arousal level. Example is the surf being big, crowded and is a reef break. State of anxiety will become reduced as a state of relaxation becomes achieved.

At this stage it is important to assess the conditions and discover where the ideal paddling route is. Once assessed it will become easy to locate the best takeoff spot.

Now arousal levels will have eased off from a state of anxiety towards a state of confidence and relaxation due to introducing a plan of attack.

In the lineup with arousal levels improved, other psychological influences will be introduced including mind surfing and positive self talk.

While in the lineup mind surfing unridden waves will give you a great pathway to master the take off. You will be now boosting in confidence and positive self talk starts to become natural as you pull into the best ride of the session.

Simulation and Rehearsal

In order to sustain this working effectively it is significant that you often simulate and rehearse these techniques. As the saying goes “practice makes perfect” and this is no different. Just as mentioned above in terms of positive self talk, it is crucial that simulation and rehearsal becomes a habit.

All levels of surfers will be able to benefit off different techniques. Feel free to incorporate techniques as you will be shredding more often.

Do these techniques excite you?? Do you want to learn more on how psychology can improve your surfing???

Why not check out our surf development programs we offer and receive professional advice on how this concept can get you shredding. This is not just a coaching clinic it is a once in a life time experience travelling to 20 quality breaks, riding on high performance boards.  Furthermore you will be staying at our AST surf college accommodation and also loving the BBQs we have.


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1-5 April 2021