sports learning experience
Min Read Time

One more wave - cementing new feelings

Sometimes paddling in after one more good wave can be doing a disservice to your surfing and improving it. This guide is all about how to flip that experience and use it to improve.

Listen to this Episode

You can listen to this whole guide on our podcast with the player above or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Podcast Playlist

The Full Guide

Do you sometimes think back on a surf and think it was great because you at least had that one good wave? 

Do you sometimes bob around thinking I’ll get one good wave and head in? But, what do you do when you get a really good wave or if you end up never finding it?

Or do you go out and do one thing well and say, yep that’s it, it won’t get any better so I’m going in.

I have a small gripe with one more wave or ending a surf in this fashion.

But… We’ve all done this at one point or another, including me and what I want to do, is introduce you to a pattern interrupter.

Something that is meant to make you stop, think about what you're doing and think should I paddle in, or am I on the verge of a lightbulb moment here?

So what am I talking about here?

It's all about the learning experience and sometimes, by going in and saying that was great, you are doing yourself a massive disservice and negating a vital learning experience.

If on that one last wave, you did something great, something new or different and it made you go, yep that was good. Then...

Why paddle in?

You've just done something you may have been working towards in your surfing and if you go in, you're settling for it being just a brief glimpse.

Instead, I want you to use that one last good wave as motivation. Something that makes you think, maybe I paddle back out or get one on the inside and try that again.

What's the point

There's a point to this and that it's in that moment, you've done something good and I want you to further cement that feeling and make it more natural in your surfing.

That means you need to go and do it again. That's it. Build the muscle memory, do it again and ask questions. Not paddle in and lose that learning experience.

Understanding this from other sports

This is easier to explain and understand if we take surfing out of the conversation and look at it just from the learning experience.

If you suddenly have a lightbulb moment or experience something that may lead you to a breakthrough, you need to go and attempt it again and again.

If you were doing something in the skatepark, you moved slightly better or tried something new and it made you stop and think or you felt something new or different. 

You'd probably want to try it again. If I was coaching you, face to face, I would pull you aside and ask you:

  • What just happened?
  • What did you feel or what did it feel like?
  • Was that a new feeling, was it better?
  • Do you want to go and do it again?

The last one is just more of a challenge/reverse psychology to make someone want to try it again and not push them to do it again. Make them want to do it again. 

If you can do that for yourself after these moments, that will be a huge win in improving your surfing.

In the skatepark, you're then excited to go back and try this again and again. I see this all the time coaching people, there's serious excitement and the only way they will make the breakthrough in their skating, is if they do this over and over, trying to feel it, understand it and create some muscle memory.

If they walk away, it'll be chalked up as an odd experience and nothing is gained.

Why surfing makes this hard

Surfing is frustrating. It's not as easy as doing another run in the skatepark or sitting in a golf driving range repeating things over and over.

you have the crowd and the conditions to contend with, let alone your own fatigue.

I don't want that to put you off though. I want you to be motivated and think, something just happened, I need to go back and try to recreate that again and again.

What if you fail at recreating it

Failure will be inevitable when trying to capture that feeling time after time, and that's fine. Expect it, acknowledge it and just get on with it.

If you fail to recapture or recreate that experience, it's still a massive learning experience.

You will be forced to think, "why couldn't I" or "what was different"? It becomes less about blaming the waves or making excuses for yourself and more about trying to figure it out.

Cementing that learning experience 

If you're finding success in recreating that experience I want you to do one of two things, depending on where you are at.

First, just do it again and again until you are tired. Stop at the point where the stress of not getting it comes in. Don't add stress to your surfing.

Second, if it's becoming easy and doing it over and over seems too simple, tweak it again. Make a micro-adjustment and try to mix it up. Level up the learning experience.

The reality of all this is it takes most adults huge amounts of repetitions to cement something to muscle memory. 

Who is to say when you may have these breakthroughs or light bulb moments next.

So use this as a pattern interrupter and if you've had a really good wave, think "do I want to cement that learning experience and capitalise on the learning experience or do I paddle in".

Example - hitting the close out section

To give you an idea of this, it can be for anything in your surfing. Nose riding, the pop up, bottom turns etc.

A good example is just hitting the closeout section or oncoming whitewash.

For a lot of surfers, they will kick out of a wave when it closes out rather than try to hit that close out or the approaching whitewash section.

Doesn't matter what you are riding, this could be as simple as extending up to the top of the wave and presenting the underside of the board to the foam to use it to turn you back down.

Average surfer hitting the end section
Be this guy right here on close outs

It's not an amazing turn, but it's simple and helps understand and is the building block for later turns. 

To most surfers, they race down the line, looking for a perfect section, then the wave closes out so they kick out.

To implement this idea and pattern interrupter, I would want you to not consider that good enough to paddle in on, go back and work on that again and again.

You'll have no issue finding another wave that wants to close out. If the crowds are bad, get an insider and try it again. 

That's it. That's all it is about.

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching