The Secret to Surfing
For beginners and developing surfers
We hear it said a lot that surfing is about feel and flow, but what does that mean? How do we get to that point of feeling and flowing? If you ask surfers how they do those turns, most will answer with something like "you look there and you go there", "just feel it".
Basically they can't tell you what they are doing, why? To say it straight, surfing is a non-thinking sport. Don't get me wrong there is some thinking to be done to choose where you will surf, choosing your line-up, where the rips are and where you should go if you are in trouble, but once you are up riding a wave, don't think too much!
There are reasons for surfing being a non-thinking sport, so lets take a look at a few of them.
Firstly, if you think, you will hesitate, and that's when things usually go wrong. The extreme of this is when you watch people surfing in big waves, one second they are paddling, the next minute they are stuck on the lip and being sucked over the falls.
Why does this happen? Well, everyone is scared/excited when they are in big waves, but if you are paddling and saying to yourself "yes,yes,yes and then as you look over the edge for a split second and you think no, that no, is enough for everything to go wrong. In surfing when we decide to do something, we go for it, we do it, and worry about what's going to happen later, because falling off is fun anyway, right?
Secondly, surfing isn't like other boards sports like snowboarding, skateboarding, finger skateboarding, because in those sports in many ways you can plan what you are going to do. For example, A snowboarder will think, on this run I will go up the ramp do this trick then around the tree then continue down the slope, hair blowing in the wind, looking cool, a big smile on the face and all the girls/guys will want me bad.
In surfing you can't do that. When you see surfers doing turns and tricks, they didn't pre-plan to do them, they are reacting to what the wave is doing. Basically reacting spontaneously to what the wave serves up. If you are thinking, you can't do that. The more you think about what you will do and what you are doing on a surfboard, is in proportion to how many wipeouts and kook episodes you will have and no one will want you bad.
The Fun Factor
Thirdly, Listen to the pro-surfers talking about their contest heats. Kelly Slater was a perfect example in his heat against Bruce Irons at Teahupo'o in 2005. In his post heat interview, he described his feelings of getting up-tight about getting the wrong waves and that he was going to lose, then he decided to just have fun and he got a perfect 10 and won.
Why? Because, every surfer knows if you are not thinking too much and just having fun, you are going to surf your best and everything will go right.
Listen to other pro surfers and they will say things like, I changed the song in my head and this is my point.
You know those days when you are leaving to go to work, school or where ever it is you go everyday and there is a tune playing on the TV, radio and it is in your head all day and won't go away. That haunting tune is the best frame of mind for surfing, because it means that you are not thinking too much.
If you are thinking about work, meetings, school, relationships, anything that is giving you a headache or stress, it is better to get out of the water and surf another day, because you are not going to surf your best and you are not going to have fun.
It's actually why you get old surfers like me that have surfed all their lives, because when we paddle out, we leave all our worries and problems on the beach. It's our meditation and have fun time.
So get a tune in your head, it doesn't have to be in the top 100 greatest hits, my favourite is the theme to the 'Brady Bunch'. Google it, if you are too young to know who Marsha Brady is.
The secret is, relax, have fun and go for it.
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