Groms have more fun in the surf
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What the groms have got that we don't - how to have more fun

The groms always seem to learn faster and have more fun than everyone else, why is that and can we take inspiration from them to improve our surfing and have more fun?

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The Full Guide

Groms... They seem to just learn at some insane pace and they have no fear. We can't go back in time but there is a lot we can learn from the groms.

This all came from a surf I had the other week and I heard the groms talking, as we were paddling out, this one grom (who I should mention rips) yelled to his mate, “next wave, I’m doing a stale fish reverse full rotation”. 

His mate just responded with “huh?!” so he repeated it.

Somewhere inside me, I went, pffft, go on ya grom, you're dreaming, but then I stopped. 

I was actually shocked and appalled with my initial reaction, sure what he was so casually saying like it was nothing is a big feat but I could only look at myself and think, when did we lose that attitude of trying ridiculous things in the surf?

Better yet, when did we stop “trying” things in the surf altogether?

The art of trying

That hurts, and I honestly sat there with that thought for a few weeks and it grinded away at me. 

I would say I try things out in the surf for sure, I have a go and I’m not afraid to fail but I feel those pursuits are too grounded in my comfort zone and not pushing the boundaries.

This is so second nature to groms but for us adults, it can be a lost cause. Maybe we make excuses and this is definitely heard in skating. Maybe you’ve said, I dont want to get injured as that will affect my work or I can’t do this or it will impact that.

I feel you, I think most adults have that in one way or another.

How then, do we capture this essence and attitude from the groms? How do we start actually trying and having more fun in the surf? 

I’m not advocating to start doing big hail mary’s in the surf unless that’s your thing, then go for it!

It's all play

The kids always learn faster when it's simply play and having fun. 

There's no stress, there's no tension or anxiety. They are pushing the boundaries, tweaking things and constantly thinking how they can push the boundaries or do something new. As an adult, when was the last time you simply “played” in the surf? When was the last time you just did something because it felt fun or it felt different or just because? 

Stuff what others think and just did it?

My answer to that question

If I answer that for myself, I always remember this surf trip with a group of friends and the surf was soooo bad. It was tiny and shorebreak but we ended up going in with no expectations and just to stuff around and do something.

So we played in tiny shorebreak, figuring out every way we could contort ourselves to try and get inside the shorebreak. Possibly one of the most fun surfs I’ve had.

How to implement this in your surfing?

Fail forwards. This means just do something with the attempt that through failure you learn.

Don't play it safe. Surf with the attempt of falling off.

Surf with the intention that if you try a turn, you have to go so hard that you'll fall off.

If you fall, then ask, what happened and what went wrong. Or, what did I feel. How can I tweak that feeling?

If you make it through the turn, continue surfing the wave and do it again with intent of falling off again. Keep going on that same wave, trying to fall off by doing something positive that may cause you to fall off.

What’s actually happening here

You’re playing, you are not caring what the outcome is but you are playing around with a movement and trying to see how you can do it better or feel something different. 

And that’s powerful.

Those turns or whatever you did, that you fell on, gave you a feeling, they gave you feedback, they told you something or you experienced something. If you then tried to make sense of that, you are having micro lightbulb moments, you are trying to understand the differences between each attempt. 

This is a massive step in learning something new.

Managing fear

Fear will be huge for some, but letting go of expectations and letting go of the anxiety will help with negating the fear. 

Who says you can’t kick the board away from you mid attempt? If you are worried about hurting yourself, then learn to fail, learn to fall off.

If you want to try to do turns or whatever in bigger waves, then go up and have a crack at it, if you freak out, just safely kick the board away (not into anyone) and notch up your first attempt. That’s better than not even having a go.

Fear is replaced by confidence and confidence is built up by repeating something and gaining and understanding of it.

Make a game of it

The next part is to just make a game of it.

Wherever you are in your surfing and whatever style of surfing you do, just think how can I challenge myself and make a game of this.  

It's not about success and failure, it's just about having a go and making it fun.

The games I play

I have two games I play out in the surf at the moment, very dependent on the conditions. 

Oh and no one else knows I’m playing them so it’s like some secret to why I am having fun yet failing.

The floater game

If I’m on a shortboard and the conditions allow, it’s how long or far can I do a floater. Read not how many floaters can I land, not even about finishing a floater. It’s about making my floaters longer and what I can do to achieve that in those conditions. 

This results in me failing a lot because the whole goal is to hold the floater for as long as possible, not land it.

The nose riding game

The other one is when I am on my log and this is all about cross stepping and nose riding. I’ve only recently got my first nose rider, so I want to learn it quickly. Best thing is a game of trying to nose ride as many sections as possible.

If you ride a log and can nose ride, you may think, woah, there are times and positions to do that and times not to.

100% agreed. Everything has a right place and wrong place.

So how can I easily learn that? Fail often, learn by failing what sections not to do it on and everytime I fall off trying to cross step to the nose or trying to stay on the nose I ask myself what went wrong.

How you can apply this  

You can do this with so many things but the key is success is optional and never important or the goal of the game or why you try. 

The options are endless for what you can apply this to and they are all methods for you to mix it up, try new things that change the feeling. 

Tying it back to, whenever you do something, ask yourself, how did that feel? How did it move? What was different? What went wrong and what should I try differently?

Everything in surfing is nuanced, and everything has a place and time based on where you are on the wave, what you are riding, what you are trying to do and what you are trying to accomplish.

Will you try this? 

Are you convinced to try this? Do you feel like sometimes you’ve lost the fun in the surf and making a silent game sounds exciting? Do you envy the groms and how everything is a laugh?

Do you already do this? 

I’d love to know how you want to apply this to your surfing an what possible game you will make up or what you are going to try to fail doing in the surf?

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching