effective surf training
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Effective surf training to develop muscle memory - Slow is smooth and smooth is fast

In this guide, found out how you can easily and effectively get more out of your surf training to make sure you get the most out of it.

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The Full Guide

When it comes to surf training, we all want to get the most out of the time we spend training. We want it to be effective and lead to change or improvement in our surfing. 

Do you do any surfing training? And if you do, do you feel like you are just blindly following or actively working on the drill and making sure you have the correct technique?

There’s a motto out there called “slow is smooth and smooth is fast” and this should form the basis of every drill or piece of training you do if you want to master the movement. 

I’ve done a few other guides on surf training and making sure you train properly, but those guides were more about the process as a whole. You can find those guides here:

This guide is all about when doing a single drill and how to make sure you get the most out of that process.

This is what we call effective training.

Effective Training

Effective training is made up of six steps:

  1. Minimize distractions
  2. Start slowly
  3. Gradually increase the speed of the quality repetitions
  4. Frequent repetitions with lots of breaks
  5. Create a daily routine where you train in short bursts multiple times a day
  6. Visualisation

Minimising distractions

This one is straightforward, we all know it, it’s obvious but we don’t all follow it. Just ask yourself before you start, are there any distractions that will prevent me from fully focusing on this and can I block those out?

Training any drill starts slowly

Whatever you are working on, whether that’s a drill, surfing manoeuvre or technique, the focus should always be on learning the technique efficiently and not focus on output or X number of repetitions.

This starts with slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

Always start with the idea of doing the movement slowly until that movement is smooth.

But what does that mean?

Practising slow is smooth

To move smoothly is simply to create one flowing movement. No holding positions halfway, no jarring, stopping or anything like that. One movement flows to the next.

How you control this is the speed you move at, hence slow is smooth.

By moving in this way, you are teaching your neurological pathways, the connections between your brain and muscles how to move the way you want them to.

If you move badly, rushed or train bad technique, you are teaching your body this is the way you want it to move. 

The previous guide ensuring you don’t train bad habits in your surf training is what you’ll follow at this stage if you are unsure about technique and don’t know if you are doing it right.

The more you do this movement, and the smoother you do it, the quicker it will become. Your body will learn the process and become more efficient at performing it.

This is exactly how a beginner at the gym will learn to lift heavier weights quickly and then plateau or slow down progress. The body is learning how to move more efficiently and when the progress slows down, it becomes a balance of muscle growth and improvements in their neurological pathway.  

So for each session, drill and rep, focus on just making that movement smooth, do it as slowly as you need to and over time the pace that you can perform it smoothly will increase.

If you feel averse to this, humble and remind yourself that this phase is quick, your neurological pathways will learn quickly if you practice smooth technique.

Gradually increase the speed of quality repetitions

As you become familiar with the movement, you will begin to notice you can do it quicker or are doing it quicker. 

The focus is all on quality repetitions and not the number of repetitions. A quality repetition is a smooth movement, correct technique, and full range of motion, without feeling awkward.

Gradually increase the speed you can perform the drill but don’t focus on how fast you can do it. Again, the focus is smooth movement.

Most of the speed improvements will come subconsciously, so don’t overthink it.

Frequent repetitions with lots of breaks

Just like the gym, you want to do rounds of repetitions. I would aim for around 5-10 reps and around 3-4 rounds of those repetitions. 

The breaks between repetitions are similar to sleep, when we stop it allows our brains to sift through the information and gives us a chance to reset, focus on moving smoothly and catch our breath.

If you are practising something that takes longer to set up or perform, then adjust the number of repetitions and rounds to suit. 

If you have the opportunity, this is when you want to apply the previous guide Surf Training - how to get the most out of it and create a feedback loop

Train in short bursts across the day

Training across the day, in multiple short bursts is used by many elite athletes. If the goal isn’t endurance and to see how long you can go for, it’s to become more efficient and coordinated at the skill you are learning.

The more often you do it, effectively and with purpose, rather than just going for a long time will help develop muscle memory faster. 

The short bursts keep you focused and allow a break between sessions to think about how you are doing it and let the body and brain learn. 

Setting a routine up for you is simply just finding time to add quick rounds of repetitions into your daily routine. 

You can opt for morning, mid-day and night to quickly do three sessions across the day but ideally, the focus should be on what fits in with your schedule and lifestyle. The less friction to do the training the better, it shouldn’t feel like a chore.

If the training takes longer or requires facilities like a skate park, see if you can work that into a lunch break or before and after work. Just 10-15 minutes if you can or make a daily routine once a day. 


Visualisation is highly underrated. If you can’t see yourself doing better surfing or training, how do you expect to get there? 

There’s a whole other guide on how to use visualisation here.

But you want to focus on just imagining yourself doing the movement, skill or manoeuvre in your mind. Visualise yourself doing it and what it will feel like frequently.

This will force you to think through the stages of the movement, any potential bad habits you have and what it may feel like to do it properly.

It’s an immensely powerful tool and you can do it easily, anytime, anywhere, in just a few minutes. 

Include this as part of your training and try to slip it in between breaks in repetitions, or part of your daily routine.


Effective training and applying slow is smooth and smooth is fast, is easy. It just requires you to slow down and think about what you are doing. 

Focus on the quality of reps by making them smooth. This means slowing the movement down until it becomes a smooth movement and then over time that movement will become faster.

The speed improvements will probably be subconscious so don’t stress over them, continue the focus on smooth and quality repetitions of any drill or movement.

If you feel averse to this, humble and remind yourself that this phase is quick, your neurological pathways will learn quickly if you practice smooth technique.

Train using rounds of 5-10 repetitions or adjust to suit the drill, in rounds of three to four. 

Make that training a part of your daily routine and add in short bursts of training across the day. If you can slip in three sessions of those three to four rounds, perfect, if not, focus on making the introduction of training as pain-free as possible and make it fit your schedule and lifestyle.

Finally, visualise yourself doing the movements every day or during your breaks. Force yourself to think about how it would, look and feel to move smoothly or use the correct technique. 

Next Week

Has this reminded you to focus on the quality of reps and to aim for slow and smooth reps? 

I’d love to know, you can reach out anytime, message me within the app, or send an email to info@ombe.co.

Next week I am going to dive into how you need to get out of your comfort zone to improve your surfing. 

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching