how to become a pro surfer
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How to Become a Pro Surfer

Learning how to hang with the best requires taking your surfing game to the next level. In this article, we go through everything that you need to consider and take into account when making the jump.

surfer riding a wave

So, you have been surfing for a while now and have been enjoying the ride so far. Maybe some of your friends have actually pointed out that you’re pretty good at it, that you have a natural knack and feel for the ocean and amazing reflexes. 

Maybe it was one of those long warm Cabo nights by the bar that planted the seed in your head. Whatever the case might be, you have slowly but surely started to entertain the thought of moving into the next echelon of surfers and attempting to do this for a living. 

Let’s start this off by saying that being a professional surfer is anything but easy. You have to be very disciplined and committed to the craft in order to break into the notable pro surfers group. 

Nevertheless, it’s not as daunting as some make it out to be. It has more to do with the person and their mentality than the actual sport itself. But how do you know if you’re built for the pros? Only one way to find out.

In this article, we will lay out the most important facets of becoming a pro surfer and sustaining a long pro surfer career. It’s not something that comes and goes. In a way, you have to commit to it. Be sure that you want to go down this path because it does require a lot of sacrifices and hard work. 

Pro Surfer Fitness

One of the most obvious things that lead to you being a better surfer and gaining some traction is being physically fit for the job. 

Nowadays, there are dozens upon dozens of surfing fitness programs that are sure to set you on the right path. You can’t really go wrong, per se; it’s more about preference than actual results because most of them will get you where you need to be. It’s just a matter of the road you want to take in order to get there.

To get you started, OMBE has more than a few suggestions. 

Adjusting Your Lifestyle to Your Fitness Program 

We hope that you are ready to forget all about those all-nighters that left you hungover and immobile in the morning. Professional surfers are creatures of habit and repetition, so, in a sense, you are always in top form. 

Unlike sports where you have a season and then an off-season, or a competition that you have to get in shape for when a certain date comes around, in surfing, you have to adopt the lifestyle of the pro surfer or live to tell of your failures. 

One of the most important things that will lead you to great fitness is sleep and a healthy diet. Make sure that you set a proper sleep schedule, wake up early, and make the most of your days. You will find that waking up before dawn gives you the most time to prepare and go through multiple training sessions. Combine this with a great diet, and you’re halfway there.

That being said, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a bit of fun from time to time. Going off track every once in a while is not the end of the world, but you should always keep your priorities in line and your eyes on the prize.

You’re a pro now; you can’t get off that easy. 

The Professional Surfer Workout 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that pro surfers dedicate as much time to training the body as well as the mind. 

The surf industry has everything covered. How far you want to take your preparation is up to you. You can make do with everything from online courses to individual fitness instructors and therapists. 

Having said that, being a professional surfer means investing in your body. You are going after the best of the best, so you have to be able to hang with them. This means that you ultimately might end up needing access to the best training facilities and coaches. Your fitness will mirror your dedication and investment. 

Surfing Workouts

It might be painfully obvious by now, but the best way to get better at surfing is to actually surf. If you were going to the beach once a week on your days off, it’s time to ramp that up to at least five days per week. You want to be surfing as much as possible without causing strain on your body and mind. Most professional surfers are surfing or participating in surfing exercises seven days a week. 

If this seems too much for you to dive into, take it gradually, but always know where you want to end up. You are preparing your body to become at one with the ocean. You want to be able to react on a subconscious level. You should get to a point where your body is going through the motions before you think of them. You want surfing to become second nature.

When you’re surfing, you don’t have to think of which muscle groups you should be targeting—your body does that for you. 

You will want to make a schedule that balances, surfing, workouts, and recovery. Yes, recovery is just as important as anything else. 

You might be surfing every day, but it’s not smart to be working out every day because that way, you aren’t giving your body any time to recover. A good rule of thumb is to allow for 48 hours between workouts on muscle groups so that they can fully recover. 

Even when it comes to surfing, it’s not a bad idea to take a day off every ten days. Maybe even take one day off during the week. You don’t want to burn yourself out, so permit yourself to take a day off when you feel the need to recharge.

Obviously, the reason we aren’t as specific on these particular suggestions is that it’s all subjective at the end of the day. As we said, how intensely you work toward being a pro will depend on your specific aspirations as well as your body and mind. 

The Musts for Professional Surfers

pro surfers

Don’t let the weather bring you down. Yes, surfing is not entirely up to you. You need good weather conditions and surfable waves. Nevertheless, don’t let this stop you from keeping in shape and working on your craft. 

Some days you can focus on your paddling or your pop ups instead of tricks. Be smart about how you spend your time. If the conditions aren’t that great, then work on your paddling and reaction time. 

So how long should you surf? Well, that all depends on how you are feeling on that day, but you should be putting in at least an hour of surfing in order to activate your body properly and take it through the motions. 

Watch Film 

A criminally underrated part of becoming a pro surfer is watching a ton of film of yourself and others. All major sports incorporate film-watching sessions into their training regimes so that they are able to analyze, critique, and better themselves. It’s very different when you are in the eye of the storm and watching a sequence in super-slow motion at 240 frames per second. 

Even after just a couple of film sessions, you are bound to spot places where you can improve or, at the very least, attempt something different. 

Watching film of others can be particularly helpful as well. Today, it’s easier than ever to find a good library of videos from professional surfers and professional surf coaches. Make the most of it. 

Have a Workout Regime

Being fit is one thing, but developing and sticking to a dedicated workout regime is a completely different animal. The main thing here is the discipline and consistency factor. You want a body that will be able to take on the ocean on a day-to-day basis. This means that you want to be as explosive, lean, and nimble as possible. 

Choose your workout sessions in regards to the type of surfs that you will be doing. Target workouts to the types of waves and equipment that you’re using—mainly the type of board that you will be rocking with. 

Don’t worry—there are programs for everything; you just need to establish what you are after and take it from there. 

Air Training

You have a choice to make. You can either focus on going the extra mile and really understanding what a training session does for you and your body or simply go through the motions. Pro surfers focus on every aspect of their preparation, which makes them lean and mean surfing machines.

Air exercises will add to your overall strength, flexibility, and resistance. They are basically short bursts of movements that require you to be all-in. Exercises such as burpees and jumping squats are a good place to start so that you can build up your legs to withstand the long sessions of impact. 

Always remember to retain as much flexibility as possible. There are a million yoga exercises that you can have a steady rotation of so that when push comes to shove, your body is ready to adjust to the impact. 

Watch Your Diet

Remember, your bones have to be healthy and strong on impact. If they aren’t, they break. That might sound extreme, but it’s that simple. This means that apart from developing a foundation and building resistance, you will have to spice up your diet with nutrients that will help you in your journey. 

You want all of the calcium and omega-3-rich foods that you can get. Of course, we cannot forget about vitamin supplements either. Turmeric and vitamin D will do wonders for your bone strength. 

Power Training

You will never make it to the pros unless you have a strong core and foundation. The two most important parts of your body when it comes to pro surfing are your core and your legs.

Yes, you need to be in shape as well because you don’t want the wind kicked out of you. However, you have to stand tall on impact as well. This means that you should have dedicated days of training where you focus on your straight training. 

Deadlifting, kettlebells as well as an inclined bench press should be enough to get you where you want to be. Focus on the motions and how they react with your muscles. You don’t want to overdo them and go stiff right before a surf. 

Big Wave Training

Well, in theory, a wave is a wave, and it shouldn’t make a difference how big it is in terms of technique. While this holds true for the riding aspect of surfing, there is a whole other part that shouldn’t go unnoticed here. 

We might be getting oddly specific here, but the aftermath of the breaking wave is one of the crucial aspects to navigate through in order to successfully make it out of the ocean. In this regard, big waves are very different from waves that aren’t as hefty. It doesn’t mean that they’re more dangerous, but you need a different approach. 

Big wave surfing is no small feat, and you’ll want to be well-rested, recovered, and at the peak of your powers when you go head to head with what is essentially a building made out of water. You’ll need to be able to hold your breath for an extended period of time when falling off a big wave. This means that if you aspire to be a big wave surfer, you will want your cardio to be top-notch.

A Few Words Before You Go… 

Most surfers, regardless if they are sponsored surfers, professional surfers, or aspiring pro surfers, have to have some extra money on the side or even have a part-time job in order to be able to seriously dedicate themselves to and invest in their craft. You have to be able to afford to start surfing on a day-to-day basis. This means making the most out of online resources, hiring a personal surf instructor, and putting yourself out there. 

Surfing might be the best sport in the world, but sustaining a professional career in it requires a certain kind of person. You won’t be able to become a professional surfer if your heart isn’t into it. There is just too much sacrifice on all fronts. 

That being said, if you have already made up your mind to go pro, there is no greater feeling than knowing that you are aspiring to make a living out of an absolute thrill and passion, and we salute you!

Written by
Jeremy Dean
surf coaching