Ego is killing your surfing
Min Read Time

It's time to drop the ego and own your own shit

You will struggle to improve or understand what you need to change in your surfing if you keep the ego alive or make excuses for it in surfing.

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The Full Guide

Quite often you’ll hear us say that tension or stress is the killer of good style. Well, ego is the killer of your progression and being able to move forward.

A lot of surfers have no idea they have brought ego into their surfing or that their ego is one of the things holding them back from getting better.

But what the heck does that look like?

To be honest, it’s a very personal thing to you but all of us have an ego in the surf one way or another, so this guide will help spotlight the common issues where your ego may come into play.

What your ego might look like

There are four general ways your ego can show up, and most people are generally not even aware of their ego. These can be seen as:

  • A million and one excuses
  • Trying too hard or trying to impress someone
  • Failure to admit where you are actually at
  • Refusal to take on feedback

Stop making excuses

The other week, coaching someone skating, every single thing they did came with an excuse. I didn’t even ask or speak, as soon as something was done, an excuse was made. 

This is just a waste of your time and is trying to make you feel good. If you want to improve, get over the hump of accepting where you are at and get on with it.

Or maybe you’ve been at the beach and heard someone blame everything on their equipment? This board sucks, it can’t get on rail and turns bad….

Well, the news flash is the board is just responding to you and most modern boards are pretty good or you are not surfing them to what they were designed for.

The only person your excuses are justified by is yourself, or someone who makes those same excuses.

This is the same with a lot of people saying I’m not surf skating for whatever reason. 95% of those are just excuses for fear, with a few people having a limitation or issue where they shouldn’t. I have a mate who had a head injury windsurfing, still skates, just uses a helmet or doesn’t skate.

The people who make those excuses are giving power to the fear and will never get past it. Skating isn’t scary, what is scary is you facing your fear of it and the anticipation of hurting yourself. Face that and skating becomes easy when you are relaxed.

Failure to accept where your surfing is at

We all have a mate who over evaluates their surfing, they go out and think they rip. Or we have that mate who retells their surfing stories way more extreme than what reality was. 

“Oh I was getting stand up barrels down the beach, you should have come down to the same bank”

This gets you nowhere, especially if the surf isn’t even that big… I had a friend say this and he was called out, he didn’t look so good after it.

The point is, if you accept where your surfing is actually at, you can move forward. Hiding it behind an ego you will be working on the wrong things to improve your surfing. Training the wrong things and surfing the wrong waves.

Think training a cutback when you can’t do a bottom turn.

How this impacts your progression

Firstly, if you have an ego around your ability, surfing, skating etc, you are basically uncoachable. It’s not until that wall is brought down and the ego is lost that a coach can actually give you feedback that you will take on.

This usually is where a coach will tell a student how to change their surfing except the student makes no changes or fights making the changes. It’s not about bad advice, it’s a product of that surfer overvaluing their surfing, their comfort zone or hiding in their excuses.

Why you should accept where you are at

If you accept where your surfing is at and drop the ego, own where your surfing is actually at, you give yourself a baseline of where you are and what you need to do to improve.

Isn’t that what we all want if we are aiming to improve?

Without knowing what you are doing wrong, accepting feedback, and forgetting the excuses, how the hell do you expect to improve?

This will tell you what you should be training on. If you can’t do that cutback, how’s your bottom turn? How are your fundamentals? Do you know how that movement works and how to do it effectively?

How to break the ego

Video analysis and a feedback loop. The video doesn’t lie, when you are training or surfing, get footage of yourself and review it back. 

You can’t lie to yourself. If I coach you and go ok you are doing this and it looks bad so do this instead, your ego could go, nah bugger off, that ain't me.

If you have footage of yourself doing it, good luck lying to yourself and denying what you see.

Examples of bad ego

I remember this surf in Bantham, the south coast of Devon, UK. So memorable but I couldn’t tell you a thing about the surf that day, my surfing or anything other than it was sunny and there was an “Equipment Expert” out there making every excuse under the sun.

He paddled out on his 6’ something fish soft board thing, I am not kook shaming but he had no idea what he was doing, couldn’t find the bus stop, couldn’t catch waves, tried to drop in on everyone and own the lineup but was more just a menace. If he did catch a wave, he had whacky waving inflatable tube man style and control, wild movements and nothing happening.

This is not what stood out.

Halfway through the surf, he swapped boards with a mate. I didn’t notice because it all looked the same. After the surf, in the car park he was a few spaces overrunning his mouth over how bad this other board was. Then highlighting how good his foamie was and how he feels this and that, it really turns well, the rails are blah blah blah. 

I actually can’t tell you much of what he said other than that he was blowing out so much hot air for a good solid 10 minutes and all of it said he has no idea how his board works and what he is doing and saying don’t match. 

So when he got on a board that is designed to turn and do all the BS he was shouting, he couldn’t do it and blamed the board.

Oh it's the boards fault, the board sucks, and it doesn’t move well. 

This guy had no idea how to read the ocean, play in the ocean, he had no knowledge of how things worked, how to calm his mind and how to move or move efficiently. Those are what we need to work on before we change equipment. If he nailed his Ocean, Mind and Body for those conditions, he would then want to change his equipment.

Instead, he blew hot air, blamed everything bar himself and showed how inflated his ego is. I guarantee he was not happy with that surf or himself.

If he just owned his own shit and got on with it, he’d improve, find the issues, figure out how to work on them, lower the expectations and eventually he would find the fun he wants. 

When we lower the bridge down, we allow things to enter. Your ego is a barrier that is holding you back. The more no’s we give and disagree on things, the more we are closing ourselves off to change.


Ask yourself if you have an ego, all of us do, it’s just where it shows and how loud it is. Drop the excuses, accept what you can do, what you can’t do and use that to push yourself forward to where you want to be. Take on the feedback and video analysis, the camera never lies and forget what anyone else thinks. It’s all about you and having fun, just don’t be super hard on yourself for having an ego or for where your surfing is at.

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching