How to improve your surfing and land training
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Surf training: How to get the most out of it, what not to do, how to progress faster and use a feedback loop

Everything you need to know about how to purposefully train, maximise your time training and see improvement in your surfing.

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The Full Guide

Do you do any surf training, and if you do, do you ever think, am I doing this right?

Should I be doing this differently or how can I get more out of this?

Or is it a case of, how long should I be doing this, how can I maximize my time spent here and not just waste it?

This is so important, we spend time, trying to get better and we want to not waste it, so why then do so many people just end up training and going through the motions, without trying to cement that training.

Trying to improve any skill or sport, isn’t like stretching where you can just do and that will give you the benefits. You need to think and ask questions, play with it and try to feel differences and make sense of that.

This guide is all about how you can maximise your time training to get the most out of it, so you can progress faster.

What not to do

Most people just blindly do, they don’t think and just do reps.

Sure that works in some parts of exercise where it’s just doing 3 sets of 10 reps and mix that in to improve your fitness. Great… but you’re trying to learn, not improve fitness, that is just a positive side effect.

So make the training purposeful, work towards feeling and improving, understanding or having fun with it to work towards a goal.

Understanding the learning experience

If you want to understand the learning experience better, you can check these guides out:

How to improve your time training

There are three main things you should introduce to your training.

Questioning what you are doing, how you can play with that feeling, and creating a feedback loop.

Connect the movement to the mind

By questioning what you are doing, you are trying to connect these movements with an understanding of surfing or whatever it is you are doing.

Asking questions like, what is this movement or thing I am training?

How does it impact my surfing?

If I move like this, how will my board respond?

There are endless questions you can ask and you may not have the answers straight away and that will lead you to then play with the feeling and figure it out. 

This will also trigger you to connect that movement to theory and deeper understanding or will push you to go find the answers and understand surfing better.

Playing with the feeling

When you start asking the questions and your goal is just to feel something, you can begin to play.

When we play, the stakes are lower and we enable ourselves to learn so much better. It’s not about outcomes or winning, it’s just having a good time.

Your goal when playing with it is to find the extremes and then find the sweet spot.

Modify the movement so that it feels horrible, make it feel bad, make it suck and then ask yourself why does that suck and feel so bad. Modify it to feel better.

An understanding of the training and theory will help at this point, which is where our training programs can help which you can start a free 14-day trial.

You start creating this loop, a cycle of making the movement slightly better each time and asking yourself:

  • How did that feel?
  • How did I move?
  • Why did it feel better?
  • What was different about that?

Again, you won’t always have the answers but it makes you curious and forces you to find out.

What you end up working towards is, this is the perfect version, say pop up or stance, and you work around why it’s good to do it that way and why it’s bad to do it another.

If you don’t understand why it’s good to be in a neutral stance versus say poo man, how do you expect to change that in your surfing?

It’s the same with cutbacks and unlocking the front arm and getting it out of the way, if you don’t understand why that will stop your cutback and how to make the movement feel better, how do you expect to do a better cutback?

Your play starts here, this is you trying to put theory into practice and figure it out.

The next step with playing with it is just mixing it up, and do things differently. This is exactly what you want to do in the skate ramps if you are surf skating to improve your surfing.

Unless you’ve figured out exactly what to do and know why, as well as knowing the feeling you are chasing in that movement, I suggest you start mixing it up. 

What this means is that you need to try different things.

Instead, most people just blindly keep doing the same thing over and over and then wonder why it isn’t getting better.

Don’t try the same thing every time, mix in something to tweak it.

But just remember, keep it to one thing at a time so you can actually attribute the change to that one change instead of having to figure out what caused the difference.

Creating a feedback loop

This sounds obvious but not many people do it. It takes so little time and the impact on your learning is huge.

You need a feedback loop as well as asking yourself the questions. By feedback, I mean video feedback loop.

Any of your training can be filmed and should be. Your surfing doesn’t need to be, no need to add pressure to that session, just every so often is good.

The point being is, if you ask questions and explore the feeling, thats one part, if you have a video, it’s undeniable.

If it looks awkward, it will have felt awkward and vice versa. The camera doesn’t lie and it will kill your ego quickly.

It will also show you what is happening, what you may not notice or feel, as well as how it may send messages to your board.

This is so important, it's a moment to pause, ask those questions and connect the theory and develop your understanding deeper.

If you just do, you aren’t making the time to question and learn.

Using Cyclic Training and Video Feedback

Ideally, any land-based training you should do this. Especially when starting a new movement.

You can easily film anything you do with a phone and then review it.

The benefit to this is the feedback loop is 5 minutes long and allows you to progress and make changes rapidly, rather than compounding bad habits.

Here’s how to implement this:

  1. Set your phone up to film the training
  2. Do 3-5 attempts at it or a minute or two if it’s a quick movement
  3. Come back to the camera and review
  4. Identify awkward movements
  5. Ask the questions of how you moved
  6. Think about how you can make this better
  7. Make 1 adjustment to the movement try and start again

In only 5 minutes you’ve identified something wrong in your surfing or training. In 10-30 minutes, you could have a breakthrough.

This the fastest way to find progress in your land-based training, will kill any ego holding you back and constantly pushes you to keep playing, asking questions and finding that feeling or making it better.

How long should you train for or how much time to invest?

Most times it really doesn’t matter. 2 minutes, 5, 10, 30, 60 minutes, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is what you get out of that time and as previously mentioned making it purposeful is more important. Not just doing things blindly.

If you do them in cycles it can be just 2 or 5 cycles, entirely up to you.

You can train a movement every time you walk around your house or make that time in your lunch break or every afternoon.

It’s not about reps, it’s about being in search of the feeling and deciding how long to go for that suits you, your schedule and how you learn.

A couple of minutes a day is great, or 3 cycles if you want a rough answer to that.

What not to do is train for too long where you start declining and you end up chasing your tail. This is especially a problem in skating, where you get fatigued and you can’t perform as well, as this could invite an injury. Only you will know when that is.


Don’t just blindly do, think, ask questions, connect the movement to theory and your understanding of surfing and figure out how that movement will impact your surfing.

Play with the movement and focus on making the movement slightly better each time and asking yourself:

  • How did that feel?
  • How did I move?
  • Why did it feel better?
  • What was different about that?

Answers won’t always come to you and the feedback loop and cyclic training will help identify the answers, as well as giving you the vital feedback to keep progressing.

If you are time sensitive, 3 cycles of any movement is a great rough amount of time, probably about 10-15 minutes. 

Otherwise, let the time be based on how much time you have or how well you learn and what suits you.

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching