The easiest way to improve your surfing
Improve your surfing by practising this one simple method. Use it to catch waves easier, develop your pop up, improve your turns and have more fun!
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.
The Full Guide
Does it ever feel like you're not seeing much progress between surfs or you can't tell if all of your training is showing up in the surf? If you aren't seeing improvement in your surfing, how do you know if your effort is wasted or not?
Do you want to improve your surfing, wave count and have more fun? Who doesn't, we are all trying to improve our surfing. We want better technique, style and confidence, we want to catch waves easily and feel like we are getting the good waves each time we surf. Surfing should all be about having fun, regardless of what the waves are doing or if there is a better surfer in the water. You don't have to be Kelly Slater to have more fun as a surfer.
The Best Surf Coaching Advice
I'm going to give you some surf coaching and explain the best way to improve your surfing step by step so that you can see a difference in every surf and help take your surfing to the next level. This will work for any surfer, regardless of ability, how often you surf, if you ride a short board, bigger board or about to go on a surf trip and haven't surfed in ages.
What You Can Learn from The Good Surfers To Improve Your Surfing
One thing at a time, that's it, forget everything else going on in the surf, what the other surfers are doing or what the wave could do. It's just background noise. When the best surfers want to improve their surfing, they are laser-focused. When they go to train airs, they get on the back of a jet ski and get flung into the lip. Everything else is a waste of their time. I want you to do something similar every time you surf.
How Most surfers never see progress
So before we dive into how to improve your surfing, we have to figure out what the issue is. Most people go out and try to do everything. They get to the beach, paddle out and they are then trying to work on: catching waves, pop up, reading waves, more speed, more power, how to move their body, turning, riding the right part of the wave and more barrels, all in one session. That's just not enough time to or focus to see any change or improvement, or muscle memory in anything.
The best thing you can do to improve your surfing
Said it before and I'll say it again, train one thing at a time and nothing else. That sounds so simple but I'm going to ask you the question, why aren't you training just one thing at a time then?
This is quite difficult as a surfer. There is so much going on constantly, begging for your attention, that it becomes very distracting. After you pop up, do you ride down the line and hit that section or continue working on what you came there to do?
Set the intention
For your next surf, I want you to try setting one intention. One aspect of your surfing to focus on. Nothing else, forget the rest. As an example, let's say you want to work on your bottom turn.
Example: How to improve your bottom turn
You could work on the whole manoeuvre but I prefer to teach surfers to break it down into the elements. This is how I teach someone to work on their bottom turn.
Developing your bottom turn:
- Always looking where you are going
- Up at the lip, not across the wave
- Engage the lean
- Compress more
- Reach further out with the lean, putting the board further onto the rail.
- Draw the turn out for longer
- Count it out, 3-5 seconds
- Extend and create lift up the wave
You only move on from each part when it becomes second nature. This will also drastically improve your style, give you more control over your board and be more fun!
Example: How to catch waves easier
Similar approach again, let's put catching waves trainable steps
- Pick the right board for the conditions and your skill level
- Develop proper paddling technique.
- Learn to read the waves, where they break and how to always find that spot. Example find the peak and read the energy and power in the wave.
- Learn to read different surf spots and how the waves are breaking across the whole beach.
- Position right at the peak (not the shoulder) as you paddle into the wave. Observe the wave as it stands up, glide into the wave while in cobra pose, making space to do your pop up and feel the waves energy.
The Oreo Biscuit Technique
We call part of this process the Oreo Biscuit and you can learn it here. This works for most boards, waves and surf spots, so give it a try and let us know how many more waves you get!
The hidden benefit of training one thing at a time
The goal is that you create small wins for each surf, you can see that you are improving small aspects of a manoeuvre that will eventually link together and create major changes in your surfing ability. You can easily gauge how you are going, it's obvious, you're either doing it or not. If you work on the whole manoeuvre, how do you gauge progress?
Avoiding distractions in the surf
When you train this way, forget the rest. Who cares how well you do anything else. You're doing this to improve, so practice everything 100% and if you fall off, you've been given a chance to learn. Fail forward.
If you were developing your bottom turn, I wouldn't care about your top turns. If you get a chance to do them, great but the focus is on the bottom turn. Do the biggest bottom turn you can. If you do a bottom turn and surprise yourself with soo much speed and lift into the pocket that you completely miss the top turn. Fantastic! That's a win, keep doing it till you can link the two turns on one wave.
Same with your pop up or catching waves, the goal is only to improve your surfing. So just do that action and nothing else, who cares if you miss the best part of the waves, it's better than feeling like a part of your surfing is holding you back. If you do what you are training well, don't tick the box and move on, do it again on the next wave. Do it again and again until it becomes muscle memory and second nature.
Improving your surfing in more than one area at once
I get it though, one thing at a time might be too slow for you. If you want to improve your surfing faster than one thing at a time there's one key aspect to it.Pick opposing areas of your surfing to train. Do not train multiple things within the same part of your surfing.
Example: Training three aspects of your surfing in one session
You could train each of these three things that happen at different times during one surf session.
- Positioning and identifying where to catch the wave (we call that the bus stop)
- Bottom turn or anything else while riding a wave
- Paddling technique
All three are in separate areas of your surfing, there is never a point where they fight for your attention.
Don't match bottom turns with top turns or anything that happens shortly after the other. You need a mental silence to reset and think, "ok what am I doing here now?".
Think of this as baby steps. You do one step, stop, think ok what's next? There is a pause between them, they don't happen one after the other.
Your next surf
So next surf, pick one thing you want to practice in your surfing, break it down into its components and work on one part at a time and focus on just having fun with that!
If you want to go faster, do the same but find non-opposing areas of your surfing to work on. Train something that happens when riding the wave and something before that. Don't match something that happens when you catch a wave and while riding it, they are too close. Paddling back to the line-up and working on technique is different to paddling to catch a wave, so you can always slip that one in easy.
Style is an odd one to practice in the surf as it is involved in everything you do as a surfer. Most people don't know how to train style, it's about slowing down, being relaxed in your body, feeling the waves energy, moving less and controlling the signals you send to your board. Less is more.
Remember, the key to improving is keeping it fun and not bringing stress or tension into your surfing.
Are you going to try this? What are you going to work on? Are you already doing this? Let me know how it goes!