2 Reasons You Aren't Surfing As Well As You Should Be...
Are you are a novice or intermediate surfer, and you aren't surfing as proficiently as you would like to be? It's probably due to these three things:
1. Your Legs Are Too Stiff
Really great surfers compress their bodies like a spring, and know exactly when to expand to maximize their speed and the utilize the power of the wave. Figuring out that timing has a lot to do with feel and knowing where and how to generate the maximum speed out of a wave.
However, if your legs are stiff from a lifetime of standing upright, you likely don't even have the muscle groups necessary to coil your legs and body into a ball that's waiting for the right moment to spring.
No one has ever mastered the art of wave riding while standing stiff-legged atop their surfboard like a tin soldier.
If you want to improve your surfing, improve your ability to crouch. Dropping your hips closer to the surface of the wave improves your balance, control, and ability to generate speed.
2. You Aren't Getting Your Back Foot Close Enough to the Tail.
For all of the talk about board design, the reality is if you get your back foot right on the tail of your board even a 9'8 Lumberjack will turn on a dime.
The problem for most surfers isn't that their board isn't good at turning, its that the surfer isn't comfortable getting their back foot back near the tail of the board where the maximum control is.
If you want more control over the board under your feet and want to make tighter turns, simply get your back foot right on top of your fin(s) and get comfortable with the newfound level of control you have over your surfboard's direction.
3. You Aren't Surfing Often Enough
It's no accident that I saved this one for last. For many of us, simply surfing often enough is the limiting factor. Nothing will progress your surfing faster than getting in the water regularly. Even surfing a blown out midday session is better than not surfing at all—especially when you are trying to progress your skill and proficiency.
All of the little things like reading what the wave is doing and predicting what it will do next, and building up the right muscle groups for paddling with speed and confidence come from one thing, and one thing only: getting into your wetsuit and paddling out.
This is a topic I've written about before. I don't know your schedule, but I do know that if you make surfing a part of your regular rhythm and if you have a surfing buddy to coax you into the water when you'd otherwise sleep in, you are almost guaranteed to get more surf sessions in, more often. And a few more waves each session, multiplied by a couple extra sessions each month, quickly adds up to dozens (or even hundreds) of more waves each year.
If you really want to progress at surfing... make it a goal to surf as regularly as you can.
People often misinterpret Early & Often Surf Club to mean "going surfing early in the morning and going surfing often" which, hey, if that's what you need in this season run with that definition.
For those of you who just read that and are now thinking "that's what I thought it meant..." the truth is, it's meant to be a reminder to catch waves earlier in their formation and catch waves more often while you're in the water.