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Use This Mental Checklist Every Time You Surf

Use This Mental Checklist Every Time You Surf

Advice is only useful if its easy to recall.

Here is my simple mental checklist that you should run through every time you paddle out.

  1. Early
  2. Hips
  3. Back Foot
  4. Pocket

Repeat that list every time you surf.  

I imagine you will want a little more explanation as to why those 4 phrases are helpful to your surfing experience. So, here we go...

1. Catch the wave early.

If you want to make the biggest improvement to your surfing, start catching waves earlier in their formation.  Regardless of what you want to do on a wave, getting in early with make your life easier.

Late takeoffs generally lead to clumsy bottom turns which lead to poor speed-generation, and low success rates.

2. Get your hips closer to the wave. 

Stiff legs and awkward center of gravity will spell disaster while surfing.  The best way to fix this is to bend your knees and get your hips closer to the wave.  If you are comfortable surfing from a controlled, crouched position, you will start to feel when you need to stand tall (which is less often than you think).

If you want more advice on this subject, check out Don't Be A Stiff-Legged Surfer

3. Control comes from your back foot.

If you want to have any semblance of control over your surfboard, you need to get comfortable pivoting off of your back foot. Start with simply shifting your weight back to your back foot slightly and feeling the added control you have, as you rock the board rail-to-rail.  

You can't turn your surfboard from the middle of your board and you definitely can't turn from your front foot.  If you want more advice on this subject read 4 Tips for Improving Your Turns

4. Spend as much time as possible high-up in the pocket.

If you want to surf with speed and power, position yourself in the part of the wave where you are able to harness the most wave energy.  This part of the wave is the pocket, the part right in front of the breaking section.

But more specifically than just being close to the breaking section, you want to make a concerted effort to get yourself higher up on the wave's face.  If you find yourself down in the flats, at the bottom of the wave, there will be no energy to propel you and you will be swiftly overrun. 

I still see surfers guilty of this every time I go to the beach, they catch the wave, pop-up, and position themselves in the flats right in front of the wave.  The wave runs by them like a freight train and they are left wondering why they can't progress. 

Surfboards are wave energy harnessing vehicles, designed to efficiently transfer the energy of the ocean into forward propulsion. 

If you want to race waves out in the flats, get a jet ski.

Closing thoughts:

If you do these things your surfing will almost certainly improve.  If you do all 4 of these steps and your surfing still isn't improving, ask someone more experienced than you to watch you and give you advice, because something is amiss. 

 

If you are serious about becoming a well-rounded surfer, keep repeating that list in your head while you're in the water.

  1. Early
  2. Hips
  3. Back Foot
  4. Pocket

What's Next?