Surfing is arguably the coolest sport on earth. Literally, we casually ride powerful, moving, crashing waves in the ocean and manage to pul off rad manuevers while we’re at it.
That being said, surfing is not just fun, but it can also be a powerful flow state experience which allows us to tap into deeper states of fulfillment in life.
Surfing is fun but many of us want to actually want to become better surfers. We want to surf bigger waves and land bigger maneuvers. In this blog I’m sharing 5 ways you can rapidly improve your surfing!
These 5 strategies will help you surf better in unexpected but powerful ways!
How To Improve Your Surfing Perforamace
1 | Intentional Visualization
It’s no secret that visualization is key to improving your surfing performance. Most of the top athletes in the world swear by this method and the reason for that is because IT WORKS.
Visualization must, of course, be paired with training itself but visualization works because it trains our brain to learn skills without us having to just keep training harder.
A strong amount of research suggest a “mirror network” effect meaning that visualization literally activates the same neurons you would, if you were actually physically performing what you are picturing.
How does it improve strength? Well, because it trains motor cortex activation.
When we go to contract a muscle, we send a nuero signal down to that muscle to activate. When we visualize a movement or skill, the same areas of our brain actually still activate, just at a lower intensity. Essentially, our brain becomes better at efficiently activating muscles, improving strength.
The point is, visualization works and it’s a key way to improve your surfing without having to just train harder.
How to Practice Visualization for Surfing:
- First, you have to have a specific goal in mind. So for surfing, that means thinking about the exact maneuver you’re trying to accomplish or an exact maneuver combo on wave.
- Next, find a comfortable position where you can close off you eyes and tune out the world.
- Paint a Picture – Visualization doesn’t work unless you allow you to see the environment as real as possible. This means engaging all senses. What does it look like? What does it smell like? Who’s there with you?
- Walk through the whole process – Start at the beginning. Do you have to suit up in a wetsuit? Where are you suiting up? Where’s the sun break? Imagine yourself walking down to the shore, putting on your leash, and paddling out. Imagine waiting in the water with calm and clarity, smelling the salt water, and imagine your chosen wave rolling through. Visualize each microscopic movement you’d make to surf the wave with excellence. Imagine the bottom turn, the pause, the routine, maybe even an aerial. Whatever it may be, see it through with detail in the first person, and perhaps see it in slow motion.
- Guided Visualizations – If you struggle to keep your mind focused on the visualization at hand, I recommend trying my Athlete’s Success Meditation to guide your visualization properly.
- Repeat – If you’re really serious about improving your surfing, do this every day for 14 days. Otherwise, aim for once or twice a week.
2 | Stress Management to Improve Your Surfing
Surfing often puts us into what is known as flow state. Flow state, is a state of consciousness where we experience peak performance. You can click here to read more about flow state (coming soon).
Most surfers can pinpoint that feeling of being in total concentration and peak performance where the outside world fades away.
As surfers we all strive to be in this state of consciousness but it doesn’t ALWAYS happen the way we want it to. Those are the days where we trip on a pop-up, dig the rail too much, and flunk a maneuver.
We want to be able to optimize our ability to enter flow state and not leave it up to chance. To do this, we have to MASTER OUR STRESS.
This may come as a surprise to you. What does stress have to do with flow state? Well, flow state is correlated with the brainwave called gamma. Gamma is the 5th, highest brainwave frequency and we can’t enter that brainwave unless we first go into Alpha.
You can read more about why brainwaves affect our athletic performance here (coming soon).
In order of low to high, the brainwaves go: Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, Gamma
Normally, we rise through the brainwaves. So when we wake up we’re in Theta, then we get more energized and we rise to Alpha, then at the peak of our average, we reach Beta.
Yet to reach Gamma, we have be in Alpha. Once in alpha and the remaining factors (such as concentration and a goal) are present, we can rapidly pass through Beta to enter Gamma.
What does this mean for you as an athlete? It means you can’t be stressed. Beta is our stress state and it’s where most of our waking life takes place. But we have to learn how to skillfully repress our stress to enter Alpha, a calm, creative state, to then enter Gamma and expense peak surfing performance.
The most difficult part is that, we have to practice this every day in our daily life, not just in surfing. How we handle stress in our day to day life is no different than how we will respond when we’re out in the ocean and a big, scary wave is rolling in. The body responds to that, not the mind.
So how do you manage stress?
This is where the warrior mindset comes into play. Practice non-resistance in your life and let feelings flow.
An athlete needs to practice the mentality of a warrior and remind themself to let feeling come, and let feelings go. Be fluid with things that come into your life. Sure, something might anger you at work or you might feel pressure because of an expectations of you.
Feel it, notice it, and let it go. Don’t hold onto it and let it change your nervous system because not only will you then feel stressed (which doesn’t feel good), but it will also change your long term athletic performance.
Related: 3 Ways to Repress Stress for Peak Performance (Brainwave entrainment)
3 | Breathwork for Surfing
Breathwork has myriad of incredible benefits for your health and wellness. It can directly impact your mental state and your lung capacity.
If you’re looking to improve your surfing, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to face bigger waves than you have before. This means that you’re going to be facing harder hold-downs and wipeouts.
Even if you are comfortable in heavy water, breath control can greatly reduce the stress you perceive in wipeouts which can improve your performance on the next set wave.
Hold-downs can seem scary but the reality is that you will rarely ever spend more than 15 seconds underwater, even on a heavy day.
That being said, increasing lung capacity is primarily to control your mind. Anyone can hold their breath for 15 seconds but when you know without doubt that you can comfortably hold your breath for a minute, a 15 second hold down is nothing.
A routine practice of breathwork can improve strength and endurance which is by far more important for surfing performance. What’s difficult about a wipeout is typically not the wipe out, rather, being out of breath and trying to paddle out through a heavy set wave.
There are many breathwork strategies. One method you can do on your own is 10 rounds of breath with a long, slow inhale and exhale. When you reach the bottom, hold for 10 seconds, then repeat for 3-5 rounds.
4 | Address Self Limiting Beliefs
Hope you didn’t think this blog was “woo-woo” before because I suppose it gets “woo-woo” now lol.
In all seriousness, what I’m about to share is heavily researched by Dr David Hawkins in the Map of Consciousness.
95% of what goes on in our brain is subconscious. That means we don’t know what those thoughts are. Within that 95% contains much of our “programmings,” which are things we believe as truth based on our childhood.
In The Map of Consciousness, Hawkins explain that our perception is .000001 seconds delayed. That means we are taking action before we see ourselves taking action.
When you go to surf a wave, you actually stood up on your surfboard before you saw yourself standing up on your surfboard.
The Map of Consciousness explains that we react to the intention, which is something outside the body, before the logical rational mind.
“The movement has already happened by the time you decide you are going to move.”David Hawkins PHD, The Map of Consciousness Explained
Sure, it might be okay for the times when we know we know how to stand up on a surfboard, but what about the new skills that we doubt ourselves in.
Intention comes from the dominant thoughts we hold prior to the event.
But remember, we’re unaware of 95% of our thoughts, so we don’t really know what the dominant thought is. I can tell you one thing though, the odds are in favor of what’s in the subconscious.
So basically, we are not driving our bodies. In a way, our subconscious programmings are manipulating our performance.
SOOOOO, we need to fix that.
Of course, we can’t just uncover all of our subconscious thoughts at once. It takes work.
That’s why in Flow State Warriors, my online course, I walk people step-by-step through the process of uncovering they belief systems because it’s very difficult to do on your own.
- What you can start with is take notice in your life what causes an emotional reaction in you.
- Catch those moments and try to ask yourself why a scenario caused that reaction in you.
- Then, keep asking “Why?” And journal the process.
- Eventually you’ll come to a negative belief you hold about yourself or the world.
5 | Self Hypnosis to Improve Your Surfing
Last, I’ve saved the most hippie hypothesis of them all for the end 😉 It may sound crazy, but at one time, even visualization sounded crazy but now it’s generally accepted by most Olympians.
Hypnosis is simply our theta brainwave. We already hypnotize ourselves every day when we fall asleep at night.
Theta is the dream state. It’s half-conscious, that moment where you are awake and still remember you dream. It’s our deepest relaxation while awake.
What’s most important is that Theta is where our brain is most receptive to new thoughts and ideas which is where hypnosis comes in.
Like I said in #4, we have subconscious beliefs that affect our performance. Hypnosis is when we override those old beliefs and create new ones.
Self-hypnosis is simply where we intentionally combine the input of new thoughts and ideas during a Theta brainwave state.
To do self-hypnosis, all you have to do is fully relax with your eyes closed. You want to be lying back but not all the way as if you’re going to sleep. Then, listen to listen to a guided hypnosis.
Technically, all guided meditations are a form of self hypnosis as long as there’s no intense breathwork involved.
But as an athlete you’re going to want to have the right affirmations and visualizations encouraged as you relax which is why you should download my Athlete’s Success Hypnosis which is designed specifically for athletes to improve performance and positive personal beliefs.
Hope this blog gave you some helpful strategies to improve your surfing! If you liked this blog, be sure to leave a comment below and share this post!
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