how to improve your surfing
Min Read Time

Applying The OMBE Method of Training to anything in your surfing

if you are stuck trying to figure out how to improve your surfing and see lasting change, here's a detailed guide on how you can break bad habits and actually see results in your surfing.

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

Understanding how to get the most out of your training can be difficult, everyone is time-poor these days and the time we invest we want to get the most out of it.

Or do you feel that when you are training and trying to improve your surfing, you just don’t know how to go about it?

This is why we developed The OMBE Method and you can do the full free program here. We developed this to better coach surfers and get more results for surfers to actually improve their surfing and feel they can understand how to get past certain pain points.

To help you better understand and get the most out of your training, this guide will walk through all the stages of the training and how they all connect together.

How is it broken down

There are 6 key pillars to it, and these are all designed to help you break the bad habits and cement those new skills. 

  1. Theory: knowing and understanding
  2. Breaking it down with the OMBE Lens
  3. Skill Development - both land and in the water
  4. Trigger words and pattern interrupters
  5. Finding the feeling
  6. Turning fear into fun

Does this have to go in this order? No, it doesn’t but it definitely helps to have the knowledge and understanding first before you head into any land-based surf training. Everything after that helps break those bad habits or improves the learning experience or can identify why you may not be getting it just yet.

Why is theory so important?

Simply put, if you are doing training, practising the drills, or working on anything but don’t understand why or how this all connects, you won’t learn much from it or put your best effort into it. 

This comes back to the whole unconsciously incompetent, consciously incompetent, consciously competent and unconsciously competent of skill development. Which is really just are you unaware or aware, or do you have to think about it or not, and can you do it or not. You can read the full breakdown of that here.

If you also understand the movement or training on a fundamental movement level, you can feel and understand a good and bad version of that movement to find the sweet spot. 

Also understanding when, where and how to do this manoeuvre gives you the ability to figure it out and help find that feeling in the ocean.

We learn through play but if you don’t know or are missing some of the pieces, you’re making a puzzle without the original image.

The OMBE Lens

You can apply the OMBE Lens to anything in your surfing and it’s just a quick way to make sure you pay attention to the right things in the right order. You can read the full guide on the OMBE Lens here.

You want to always be observing and responding to the ocean first. If you don’t look at it and see what it’s doing, how do you know how to play in it?

Then you need to make sure you know how to do the manoeuvre and calm the mind. Clear it and get out of your head. This is then followed by relaxing the body and allowing it to move freely so you can send the right signals to your board.

Finally, your board is going to either amplify or mute the response to your movements. From here it’s a case of picking the right board for the right job.

Skill Development

Skill development is all about learning the skills and breaking them down into stages so you can build up the reps and work on that muscle memory to develop good habits.

This is best started with work on land which takes away the stress of the ocean and gives you the chance to play with the movement and very quickly work through it at the initial stage. Doing training only in the ocean reduces the time you have and the chances you get to work on it. Doing the ground work on land first works out the basic kinks within 10-30minutes to start properly working on it.

Eventually, as you keep progressing on land, it's then a case of how do I translate this to the water. This is the hard part as now the scenario isn’t so easy with the ocean being out of our control.

Not every skill has land-based training versions of it, but most skills can be problem solved on land.

The difficulty is coming up with the training and this is why we have the OMBE training programs that walk you through the whole process in a structured way.

If you are working on something unique to you, break it down into parts, look at it and see how you can break it down into a fundamental movement and then how can you work that movement on land first. How can you recreate that feeling or how can you play with that feeling? Sometimes it is obvious with practising some manoeuvres on a skateboard in a bowl, and for others it is not obvious.

Some skills are also just mental and theory, you watching the ocean and observing.

When you get to the ocean and practice, it is then how can you best break the old bad habits and create new good habits.

Break bad habits with trigger words and pattern interrupters

There’s a full guide and breakdown on trigger words and pattern interrupters you can read/listen to here.

A trigger word is a word or phrase that connects movement and trains the brain to respond and act based on that. It simplifies the process and quietens the mind while also helping train the muscle memory and connecting it with the neurological pathways connected to that movement.

The general idea is to come up with your own that connects or means something to you. If it has no meaning, it has no power. 

A trigger word can also be a pattern interrupter but a pattern interrupter is typically something you do to reset and stop falling into bad habits.

This can be something like touching your face, resetting your stance, or opening up your shoulders. Anything that resets how you do a movement and sets a new baseline to start from rather than carrying on autopilot making the same mistakes over and over again.

Again, the more connected these are to you, the more powerful.

Finding the feeling begins with play

As the saying goes, only a surfer knows the feeling. But if you’ve never felt that, how the hell do you find it?

For most surfers, this comes down to playing with the movement and trying to move more efficient, doing video analysis, and asking how could this feel and look better.

Because, if it looks awkward it will have felt awkward.

You need to play with the extremes and find the bad version and find the good version and then the sweet spot where it clicks for you.

To do that you really have to start making micro-adjustments to each movement one at a time and just try it. Go out with the attempt of experimenting and finding the feeling, not completing turns.

Completing a turn is often safety surfing, it’s not progress when you need to find the feeling. Keep working and failing at it until you surprise yourself and feel something new. You’ll often fall on that attempt when you experience something new, or you’ll be shocked and not know how to respond after as you’ve suddenly accelerated. 

This is what you are generally chasing, it's now how do I capture that and keep playing with it.

Turn fear into fun

Quite often, the thing holding us back is generally fear, anxiety, or something similar. So to move past it, we need to face it but to be honest, an easy way to conquer it is to instead find a way to enjoy that fear, to turn the hesitation to full send or commit. 

It’s taking this moment to think about what is holding you back from having a go or committing. What would it be like for you to just do it and not think about or if it was someone who did it, what would they do or think? Quite often that response is they don’t think or they see potential, or they just think positively.

That’s not super helpful when fear is loud, so you need to hack your brain, learn to be comfortable falling, not be afraid to waste waves and enjoy the process.

An easy hack for this is to paddle into waves, distracting yourself by either doing a loud full-body sigh and grunt or sticking the tongue out and making the most obscene noises. The sigh says I don’t care, no pressure, whatever happens, happens, whereas the tongue out is a way to hype yourself up and focus on the excitement of the wave. Both will stop the brain from running wild and allow you to enter fight mode so you can actually respond to the wave and not enter freeze or flight mode.

If it’s that uncomfortable moment waiting for waves, it’s about how you can distract and calm yourself from worrying about the event that may happen. Generally, the fear of what might happen is worse than what actually happens.

Either way, each time it’ll be unique to you, the conditions and what you are trying to work on. Just take the time to minimise that fear and make that a fun experience in whatever way you can, because, we learn best when we play.

Bringing it all together

By implementing these steps, you can generally apply them to anything in your surfing to work on it. Sure the skill development and theory may not be obvious at first and that’s why we have our training programs, but if you work through the OMBE Lens, observe other surfers and apply these steps, you can begin to understand how to get the most out of your training or how to keep creating new training for yourself to work on.

When you do apply this to your surfing, remember to break it down into steps, find the easiest way to learn it by focusing on only one thing at a time and relax when you train it.

Next Week

Has this explained how to get the most out of your surf training?

Has it given you a set of steps to work through for whatever it is that you are working on?

Or have you been doing the OMBE Training programs and been loving the approach?

You can start a free 14-day trial here.

I’d love to know, you can reach out anytime, either message me in the app or send an email to

I am going to dive into how visualisation can help your surfing and that if you can visualise yourself doing better surfing, it’s going to be hard getting there.

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching