If you think about it, you only really get to practise riding a wave for maybe up to 5 - 10 mins in one surf session. This adds up eventually, but it takes a lot of time and effort with turning up to the beach regularly to really start making a difference to how well you surf.
If you have ever had a lesson with me,
you will know I spend a good chunk of time going over the OMBE techniques of how to pop up, where to look etc. before we get in the ocean. Then after the lesson, I show you some exercises to practise at home.
This land based practice is an excellent training tool for building muscle memory, skill and then confidence. What happens when you practise on land is your neural pathways in
the brain form new connections. These connections become stronger each time you practise the manoeuvre or watch the wave and imagine you doing the manoeuvre. Yes, that’s right you don't have to just physically practise. Studies have shown that visualising a movement can help with building a skill just as much as actually doing it!
Land training really does work with helping you improve, but what about when you get to the ocean, paddle out and your mind goes blank? You need to set yourself up so you can implement the new skills you have been practising at home.
Set yourself some realistic expectations of your performance. If you are rushing and thinking too big it can become overwhelming and will probably result in tensions and stress. This stress triggers your fight flight part of the nervous system, which speeds up t
he breathing, encouraging faster and shallower breathing mostly from the mouth. The brain then goes offline and it's hard to make rational decisions about what to do. Plus on top of that, feeling tense and stressed is exhausting and you will burn through your energy really quickly.
The goal when you get into the water is to create a sense of calm and focus. Take time to concentrate on your breathing before you jump in. Breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 6 through your nose, quietly, softly and into the belly. Do this until you feel your heart slow and your body relax.
While you are breathing. take some time to watch the waves and make a plan of what you are going to do. Where will you paddle out and which section do you want to surf? Do you need to position yourself where everyone else is sitting or is there another wave breaking that people have missed? And most importantly, assess the conditions! Is there a sweep, what's the tide doing etc. If you are unsure, have a chat with the lifeguard or other surfers.
When you have a plan and you are feeling calm, get out there and find some waves you can glide into, then look along the wave and pop up with ease.
The ocean conditions are forever changing and no two waves are ever the same, so to make sure you are prepared both mentally and physically for your next surf session, practise your breathing and pop ups (or other manoeuvres) at home daily. You will quickly start to become familiar with how this feels.
If you would like to improve your surfing and learn more land based drills there are a heap of different ways you can start to improve.
Tips for practising at home:
How To Perfect Your Pop Up The more you practice out the water, the easier it will be when you get onto a wave. You can practise pop ups multiple times. You can do this with a bosu ball or on the ground.
Surfing Mistakes Beginners Make It’s always easier to learn if you have some visuals of what you are working towards. Here is a video of Ant and Clayton from OMBE talking about the foundation manoeuvres of surfing and mistakes people tend to make.
Surf simulation on land can really help fast forward your surfing progression. This video talks about some of the techniques you can be practising on land in between surfs. Ep 1 | Surf Hacks | The Importance Of Surf Simulation (cardboard surfer, bosu surfer, surf skates)