how to improve your surfing
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Using the OMBE Lens to problem solve anything in your surfing

This one technique will help you break down all of your surfing and figure out what may be the issue and how to solve it.

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The Full Guide

When you are stuck in your surfing, not progressing or struggling to break a bad habit, what do you first do or how do you think about that?

Is it pure frustration, try harder, get back on the horse and push through?


Do you stop and think about what is going on? What am I missing? What skill don’t I have? What am I doing wrong? What don’t I know? How am I moving?

To be honest, most of us default to excuses, blaming our equipment, the conditions, what's going on outside of the surf and saying we just aren’t in flow and that’s human.

Not many of us look at the problem and try to figure it out and strip it down to the most basic levels. Simplify.

This is why we want you to know O.M.B.E.

Know O.M.B.E

This isn’t about knowing OMBE, as in OMBE Surf. This is about knowing Ocean, Mind, Body and Equipment for you personally and your surfing.

It’s about how you apply Ocean, Mind, Body and Equipment to your struggles and how that simple framework can give you the tools or awareness of what you are doing wrong.

It’s doing things the easy way, not the hard way.

So what does this all mean and how do I put it into practice?

All it comes down to is using the OMBE lens, viewing your surfing through this lens and changing the way you see things to ask very simple questions.

These basic questions give very simple answers you can action.

Asking the right questions

  • Ocean:
  • What's your ocean awareness, IQ, are you seeing the right parts of the wave, are you in the right position, picking the right lines to surf the wave how it wants to be?
  • Mind:
  • How's your mind? Do you have the right knowledge? Are you calm and relaxed and allowing yourself to flow or are you afraid and overthinking things?
  • Body:
  • How does your body move? Is there tension, are you not looking at the right place, and are you moving efficiently and with flow and intent?
  • Equipment:
  • Are you on the right equipment, does that board match what you are trying to do? Do you know how it works etc.

That’s a rough outline of some of the questions you could ask. This will be confronting and will highlight things you may not be aware of or don’t want to be aware of.

Most surfers want the fix to a symptom and all they see is the symptom of their problems, rather than trying to find the actual cause of the problem.

Hack at the roots of the problem, not the leaves and symptoms of it.

There is an order to O.M.B.E for a reason

The most important thing with this is there is an order to your O.M.B.E. It’s not spelled this way because it sounds good.

It’s because there is an order and it starts with the most important part.


If you cant read the ocean or play in it, you are stuffed. End of discussion, if you can’t read the wave, how can you do what you want. 

Take this out of surfing, if you want to climb a mountain or climb down, you first have to read the mountain, plot a path and figure how you can play or use the environment.


Then the mind follows, where is your mind at, are you responding to fear and incapable of action. Do you have gaps in your knowledge? If you don’t know how to move you will not be able to move that way at all.


Once you have the ocean IQ and a calm mind you can begin to move and play. If you start introducing tension and lack the efficiency of movement you won’t be able to move properly.


Do you have the right tool for the job, do you know how to use the equipment to suit your purpose.

Moving back up the order

When you encounter a problem, you have to move back up the order. If you think the problem is your body and you can’t move well. It’s more likely fear, stress and anxiety from the mind that is killing it for you. Or it’s overthinking. 

Or it’s doing the manoeuvre in the wrong part of the wave, not flowing with the wave and fighting it.

When you have the ocean and mind in the right place at the right time for the right conditions, then if you can’t do it, it’s an issue of the body.

Equipment is the last thing you change

Unfortunately, the common problem and typical response from surfers is it’s the board’s fault. If I was on a better board I’d rip, it’d do this, I’d get more waves.

Equipment is the last thing you change. 

If you change your equipment, you change your Ocean, Mind and Body. You have to change the way you interact with the ocean, your mind is in a different place and your body will have to adjust to suit.

People often go to the wrong equipment, trying too hard and don’t have their Ocean, Mind or Body under control so that when things go wrong the board is blamed. 

Applying O.M.B.E to your surfing

To get this concept, we need to apply it to situations we are familiar with.

Not catching waves

For a lot of surfers, if they can’t catch a wave, they quickly blame their equipment. You need a bigger board, you need more paddle fitness.

If you apply O.M.B.E to this, equipment is the last thing to change.

The issue is first Ocean. Can you actually read the ocean? Where are the waves breaking? Go paddle and sit there. 

If you can do that easily, it’s a question of where’s the mind? Are you afraid that you are paddling off the bus stop where the waves break? Do you have the knowledge to apply the oreo biscuit?

If you can sit in the right spot, read the waves, position yourself, calm the mind and understand how to do the oreo biscuit, what’s going on with your body?

Can you do the movement, are you doing it? Are you tense?

Only after all of that do you turn and go ok, maybe a different board should be used here. MAYBE. 

The easy or hard way

What this is highlighting is not just what you don’t know, what you are doing wrong but that there is an easy way and there is a hard way.

You can paddle harder, or you can read the wave better, position better, do the right technique at the right time and you’ll catch more waves.

Or, you paddle harder, stress paddle, get on a bigger board, it doesn’t move the way you want or you can’t duck dive it and now you are killing your Mind or Body, introducing tension and stress because you’ve limited yourself by the board choice. This isn’t to say you can't pick a bigger board, it’s to say that when you change your equipment, it will change your O.M.B.E and this can be positive or negative.

The S Curve

This builds into a whole other topic, the S curve, and this is where when we introduce new changes, we experience a negative learning experience because we are changing our O.M.B.E. In a nutshell, anytime you change your O or what happens in the ocean, surf bigger waves etc, it will change your Mind, Body and Equipment and this can and usually creates a negative learning experience. You are now confronted with a new Mindset, the body might introduce more tension and you would be on the wrong equipment. Or you don’t know how to get the most out of those smaller waves and it’s similar again.

This will be a whole other guide on navigating this S curve and how you can motivate yourself through these experiences, apply the OMBE Lens to it and identify the skills you need to learn to find your way up the positive side of the S curve.


If you are stuck in bad habits, having a negative experience in the surf and can’t figure something out, stop and view it through the O.M.B.E Lens. Where is your ocean at? Mind, Body and Equipment and identify the problem or what’s lacking in that order.

Any changes to your O.M.B.E means you have to go back through the process, always starting with your Ocean awareness.

Take the easy way and not the hard way. Make long term fixes rather than band-aid fixes like more volume or paddling harder.

If you don’t have the knowledge, the Ocean IQ, your first step is to go learn that. Understand what you need to do and how to read that in the ocean. Learn how the movement is done and then calm the mind.

Apply this to what you are struggling with right now and you should have a few lightbulb moments or you will be confronted with what is actually going wrong in your surfing. It’s up to you and how you respond to the OMBE lens.

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching