SurfinShape Paddling Technique

3 Techniques to keep in mind when paddling the SurfinShape Board so that you can lower your chances of injury when using it.

In this video on SurfinShape Paddling Technique, I discuss three key techniques to keep in mind when paddling the SurfinShape Board so that we can lower our chance of injury when using it.

1: Enter 8-12 inches (or 20-30 cm) in front of your face.  A slight bend in the elbow is a good visual cue that you are entering around this zone.  Entering here allows us to use our rotator cuff muscles the way they are meant to be used.  A test to see if you are entering in the right location is to see if you can raise your elbow prior to entering the water.  If you can’t raise it to at least 30 degrees, you’ve reached too far.  Enter sooner.

2: Avoid pushing down upon entry.  Pushing down sends us up, not forward.  Pushing down also places undue stress on the elbow and rotator cuff.  The hand and forearm need to reach the Front Propulsive Phase before any force is applied.  Either send the hand and forearm straight to the Front Propulsive Phase immediately upon entering, OR let the hand and forearm drop naturally into this position.  This will depend on whether you are practicing your efficiency stroke, or your power stroke as well as whether you are practicing your shortboard technique, or your longboard and shortboard sprint technique.  Here’s an outline in case you’re not sure: Shortboard efficiency stroke = low entry angle, glide forward underwater, let the hand and forearm drop naturally.  Shortboard power stroke, Longboard efficiency and Longboard power stroke = medium entry angle, no glide underwater, straight to the Front Propulsive Phase. 

3: Progressively Apply Force Backward.  Applying force backwards sends us forward.  However, avoid pushing as hard as you can in the beginning of the stroke.  A progressively applied force curve will yield the best results in the correct direction.  In other words, you’ll move fast in the forward direction with the highest efficiency and effectiveness.  Just like how a car has different gears, you too should shift from low gears to high given the speed you are moving.  You can practice gears 1 through 3 with no bucket attached.  Practice gears 4 through 6 with the bucket attached.  Remember, do not apply all of your force immediately.  Progressively apply force as you move through the underwater armstroke. 

With these three key techniques, you will avoid most of the damage that can be caused due to improper paddling technique.  If you’re interested in more techniques or are having shoulder or paddling issues that these do not correct, feel free to contact me.

See you in the water!

SurfinShape Product Review

In this SurfinShape Product Review video, I took a look at the SurfinShape “O” Model and the “W” Model and put them through the paces.  

A breakdown of the video:

00:00 Intro

00:28 What comes with the Board

01:30 “O” Model test, no bucket

02:50 Thoughts on the test

03:30 Installing the bucket

04:22 Guesses on how it will perform

05:05 “O” Model test, with bucket

05:40 Thoughts on the test and comparisons to other resistance tools

09:32 “W” Model no bucket expectations and predictions

10:18 “W” Model test, no bucket

10:50 Thoughts on the test

12:13 Installing the bucket on the “W” model (no different than the “O” model)

13:13 “W” Model test, with bucket

13:42 Thoughts on the test and comparison to the “O” Model.

14:53 Summary and Recommendation


If you have any questions regarding this SurfinShape Product Review, feel free to contact me.  

See you in the water…


PSA on Using Resistance Tools for Paddling

In this PSA on Using Resistance Tools for Paddling, I discuss the different tools you can use to work on technique and fitness for improving your paddling as well as an important warning

It’s important to use Resistance Training Tools Safely.  There are several different resistance tools you can use to improve surfing paddling technique and paddling fitness, and there are pros and cons to using each tool.  However, across all of the tools, there is one very important safety measure you should take so that you don’t injure yourself while using the tools.  

That important safety measure is to “level down” your effort.  More is explained in the video…

Hope this helps.  As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me

See you in the water!


I don’t speak too much Spanish, but I know what “Baja” should translate to.  “Adventure“.  Because it’s always an adventure when I venture south of the border down that skinny, jagged peninsula.  Or should I say that we get to really test Murphy’s Law (I know, Murphy is an Irish name, but c’mon, when does anything go wrong in Ireland in comparison to Baja?).

When things go wrong, that is where the adventure truly begins.  And boy was it fun. 

For weeks we had been tracking Hurricane Lorena running up the coast of Mainland Mexico.  Is it going to hit our camp?  Is it going to send extra swell and perfect conditions?  The anticipation was killing me as I woke up each day leading up to the trip and checked the new path five different forecasts were reporting.  In the end, Lorena wasn’t the problem.  Mario was (I always preferred Luigi in Super Mario Bros. – should have known).  Hurricane Mario, which was downgraded fairly quickly, swung out wide.  Sorry, not as much swell was forecasted now for the week, and to add insult to injury, lots of onshore winds.  And by the way, you can’t even get out to the camp because the Port where you need to travel by boat from is closed.  So, let’s hang in Loreto until it passes. 

Loreto is a cool little town, especially when you’re with cool people to wander around in it with.  We had a group of eight and the camp held twelve, so we were a little timid about who else was going to join us.  We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the others were even more fun and down to earth than we were!  And the ringleader had a handlebar mustache (good start already), was friendly as can be, and can play a mean game of Liar’s Dice.  We all quickly became good friends, but while in Loreto, we were still just getting to know each other. 

After a night stay in Loreto, we waited to hear when the Port was going to open.  I’d rather be sitting in front of onshore slop than in front of the flat Sea of Cortez and so would many in our group.  Handlebar Mustache Man took the lead on cornering our host.  I quickly followed in support when I heard what he was up to.  But our pleas fell on (somewhat) deaf ears.  Nothing our host could do about a closed Port and he really liked Loreto as a base to wait it out.  We went with it in the end.

We didn’t have to wait much longer until we heard news.  The Port is open and we are off!  Onshore slop, here we come – come hell or high water. 


Turning onto Mexican Highway 1 heading south, conversation was bumping with enthusiasm and joy. 

Until it wasn’t. 

What just happened?!?  We heard the trailer that was holding all of our boards and bags make a terrible sound.  Was that the back gate dragging on the highway?  Oh no!  Are all of our boards rolling out all over Hwy 1 like a yard sale for any Semi to use as speedbumps? 

Phew!!  No.  Trailer is still following us (with the back gate closed), but the trailer sure doesn’t look like it’s tracking straight.  We pull off on an area that had a shoulder (thankfully) to assess what was going on.  Our lead van was ahead of us, but they’ll notice we’re missing soon enough and call or swing back around. 

The tires were still on the trailer.  Okay.  Check.  The hitch was still attached to the trailer.  Okay.  Check.  But the hitch frame doesn’t look like it’s attached to the van!!  What the?!?  The frame isn’t attached on one side.  The bar is completely corroded through and dragging on the ground.  Not sure this one is going to make it. 

While Baja certainly has a high probability that your plan will quickly veer off into another direction no matter how many four leaf clovers and lucky horseshoes you bring with you, it’s also is one of the best places where the seemingly impossible becomes possible.  You just need to take a moment to think.  What did we need? How can we still proceed on?  Let’s make it happen. 

If only we could find a welder.  Soldadora?!  Yeah.  That’s it!  All we need is a welder!  Easy breezy!  Weld the frame back on the car and boom, we’re back in business!  Leaving the trailer with Carlos, we set off to find a welder.  Super simple solution, we thought.  

First place right up the road was closed.  Or just no one was around (siesta time).  That would have been too easy.  Second place was closed, but there was a gent sitting outside that said he could weld.  Looked like a Mexican Chris Malloy.  Except that he also looked like he was drunk, and had some sort of dementia.  Probably not a good choice.  Fourth place had the equipment, sober (we think) employees hanging out doing nothing, but couldn’t work for us because of some contract agreement they had with “corporate”.  But they sent us to someone they knew had the skills.  Hopefully he’s available. 

On our way to that fifth welder, the other side of the hitch frame broke.  Of course it did.  And we were one block away according to the map.  Our jimmied contraption to hold the other side of the frame on was still working so we just checked to make sure it could hold the whole entire hitch frame before finally rolling up to the fifth welder. 

He was working on some kind of window frame lying on a few sawhorses.  All that stood around him was a metal frame of a building, no walls.  Just a metal, rusting roof overhead, some tools and workbenches on the right side, and what looked like an 8×4 cement pit in the middle.

Without much fanfare, he motioned for us to back the van in over the cement pit.  What luck we thought!  We joked that he was just trying out his Halloween costume and he really wasn’t a welder. 

After a quick inspection (cigarette in hand near the gas tank), he went to work on the frame, and in as little as an hour he was done, reinforced the corroded frame with solid steel pieces.  Meanwhile, we passed the time watching in awe, eating at a Chinese restaurant (in Mexico keep in mind), and chatting with another amigo who apparently had another pit across the dirt lot.  He brought over chairs for us to sit in, and just hung out. 

The kindness and fortitude that was shown that first day was inspiring.  After saying our deepest thanks to Antonio (our welding hero), we all piled back in and on the road to the Port. 

The Baja desert is quite beautiful, especially in southern Baja where there were smooth arroyos running in between serrated cliff faces with reddish dirt and shale.  We drove up through the mountains, passing golf courses (really?  In a desert where water is scarce?), shacks, cacti, and roadside fruit stands.  On our left were the islands in the Sea of Cortez where the water showed a brilliant turquoise blue and green. 

The main heartbeat of the Port town we rolled into was fishing.  The locals here eat, breathe, and die fishing and the ocean.  We transferred our bags and boards into twenty four foot pangas on a trailer, jumped in, and trailered our way to the launch ramp.  There were fishing pangas on trailers coming and going on that main artery.  The sun was going down and a large handful of boats were heading out for some productive night fishing.  One trailer in particular didn’t let a flat tire stop them.  They just limped out onto a shallow sandbar, drove the Toyota 4Runner pulling it through the corroding salt water to back the panga in.  Off they went into the night.  No worries.  Such a stark contrast to my OCD maintenance on my Wakesurfing boat!  I don’t think they flush their boat, wash it down (and trailer) and wipe clean when they are finished for the day.  LOL!!


Being on the water felt great.  We were racing towards a large sandspit on the island we were going.  It was dusk, and the Bay was rough from the relentless wind.  But we were loving it. 

As we approached the sandspit, I looked around.  How the heck are we going to cross this?  Night had fallen and I didn’t see any channel or throughway.  But headlights on the beach showed up away from the main town.  The truck was pulling a trailer.  He backed the trailer into the water on a rock strewn beach.  It felt a little like we were a part of the drug cartel, doing something not so legal, far away from prying eyes.  But he was there to take us across the sandspit so that we save hours of boating around the headland.  Not a bad gig I thought. 

On land but still in the boat, slowly trailering through the sandspit to the other side at night was an odd experience.  Halfway there. 

We launched on the other side of the sandspit with the open ocean to our left.  Then we sat there floating in the dark, looking up at the night sky.  Clouds started to disperse which brought more and more stars into view.  Jupiter and Saturn loomed bright.  Apparently, there was only one trailer guy working that evening so we were waiting on the second boat to cross the sandspit.  Our captain, Carlos, definitely pulled rank and got us across the sandspit first. 

Reunited with the other boat, we proceeded to cross the Bay in pitch dark.  Bioluminescence lit up the spray coming off the boat.  Blasting through swell and windswell, we stumbled our way to another headland across the bay.  There looked to be a bonfire on the cliff and a few moving headlamps.  As we approached, we could hear the surf breaking to our left.  How close to the waves were we?  It sounded like at any minute we could be engulfed by a set. 

But Captain Carlos knew exactly what he was doing.  At just the right moment he would lay on the gas and ease off to navigate us into a small cove.  We were greeted by friendly smiles with headlamps attached to their heads. 

Once on land, we all took in our surroundings.  Cerveza senor?  Si!! 

The rest of the week was a blur of surfing, coaching, laughter, and fun.  Surf conditions lined up each day with good winds and waves every day.  But it wasn’t the surf that was the main attraction on this trip.  Don’t get me wrong, the surf was super fun.  And I mean FUN.  But what really made the trip were the people

With me came six amazing human beings that I am honored to call not only my clients, but my friends.  We conducted a variety of coaching sessions throughout the week.  I was thoroughly proud and impressed with their progress since when I first started working with them to the start of Day 1, and then again impressed and proud of their progress from Day 1 to the end of the trip.  Everyone struck some kind of adversity (one literally struck in the mouth!) but persevered and improved immensely. 

The Fountain of Youth (Tom) having fun

Cary – hamming it up

I recall a specific moment when I was sitting in the water during an in-water coaching session watching the group at the top of the point as a set rolled in.  Each one of them took off in the perfect spot, with plenty of time to get to their feet, smiled and laughed as they weaved and navigated the wave, riding closer to the pocket with more control than ever before.  My heart filled with joy as I watched this.  Absolute heaven. 

Also joining us on the trip was my older brother.  We had never been on an official surf trip together in our lives so this was also such a blessing for me.  Several sessions with just the two of us took place as we attempted doubles and figures eights on the same wave (one half figure eight was achieved).  During a big lull on one particular session we saw a sea turtle come up for air, the sun hit the water from behind the clouds and then two waves came through – one for each of us.  Definitely some higher powers reaching down and saying “hi” to us. 

Cary – high line
Doubles with my brother

Finally, our four new friends from Oregon, Santa Cruz, and Sacramento.  Three sixty-five year old friends who have known each other since middle school and the adult daughter of one of them.  What truly inspired me was their depth of character and overall attitude.  Getting to know each one in turn was another highlight of the trip and I was blown away with their values, humor, and zest for life.  Age is just a number.

As we departed our oasis in the desert, it’s safe to say that we will all miss it, and will certainly miss each other as we get back into our daily lives.  But that’s the thing about adventure.  It never really ends.  Just another chapter. 

Until that next chapter, I’ll see you in the water. 


John – smooth cutback
The Illusionist (Rob P) finding trim
James and Christine party wave
Janice – stylish bottom turn
Malibu born cutback – Tom
Naturally Gifted Steve dropping in
Handlebar Mustache Man Jan all smiles
Sheriff Jenni catching another one
John – generating speed
Phillipe in the slot
Christine – stoked on the glide
Cary with a deep grab rail bottom turn
James finding the speed line
Relaxed style – Janice
Father Daughter moment – Chief and Sheriff
Phillipe making magic on the roof
Christine paddling in beautifully
James on the inside. Chip on the outside.
Tom finding snacks at the bottom
Casual Steve
John setting up
Jenni feeling the flow
Jan on rail
Janice dropping in
Cary eyeing it up
Chip off the bottom
Phillipe taking off smooth
Great trim line Christine
James dropping in
Phillipe check turn
John – low and compact
Cary – mastering the twist
Nice line James
Chip finishing strong


Coach Rob. Until next time…

Guest Speaking on a Surf Body Connection Webinar – Part 2

Here is Part 2 where I share a shortboarder example and a longboarder example

00:08 Shortboarder Video Example – Before and After 23% improvement – Drag’s Impact on Horizontal Balance, Creating a Drafting Cavity, and Tempo

01:20 More Progressive Force = More Effective Propulsion

03:22 Good Setup to Front Propulsive Phase

04:44 Longboarder Video Example – Before and After – A Key Difference in Technique between Shortboarder and Longboarder – Entry Point Same, Entry Angle is Different

06:11 Comparison of Entry Point and Entry Angle Between the Shortboarder Example and Longboarder Example

09:43 The Problem(s) with Over-Reaching

11:07 Me on a Prone Board Video Example – Lack of Effort Used, Entry Point, Hover Technique, Entry Angle, Top Speed Acceleration vs Steady Velocity

12:14 Is it Better to Stick with One Board to Learn Technique?  Our Brain’s Ability to Change Motor Movement

18:12 Shane’s Injury Prevention Spectrum and Overwhelming the Brain

In Part 1, I share the introduction to the Level 1 Surfing Paddling Techniques and Shane shares a few nuggets of knowledge she learned along the way. 


In case you want to get a hold of Shane to learn more, she can be reached at

Guest Speaking on a Surf Body Connection Webinar – Part 1

July 2019 i had the pleasure of joining Shane Carpenter, DPT to conduct a Webinar for her clients.

She has a great philosophy on healing the mind and body and in this webinar I shared some of my Level 1 Surfing Paddling Techniques.

Here is Part 1

00:16 Who am I (Rob)?

00:57 How did I get into working with surfers on paddling techniques?

02:46 What kind of injuries were I seeing and how does my program solve them? 

04:18 Some common mistakes?

04:47 Shane’s most powerful takeaway for her from my Workshop

05:34 A common physical limitation for paddling she sees

07:50 Paddling Technique Overview – Introduction to Level 1

08:06 What’s the Big Deal?

11:07 Three Key Goals

12:44 Simple Solution to Achieve the Three Key Goals and How to Self Diagnose Yourself

13:04 Surfers’ Common Fallacy on Paddling

14:08 How to Self Diagnose Yourself

14:55 Basis of Moving Through Water – The Three Laws of Motion

21:15 The Results You Get When You Follow This Formula

25:36 Types of Drag and Why are They Important to Understand

27:22 Where is Fitness in this Equation?

In Part 2, I walk through a few examples – one shortboarder and one longboarder – before and after views and the analysis behind what we see on the screen.  

Shane Carpenter has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and runs Surf Body Connection where her goal is to help surfers stay active, healthy, and connected to the Ocean for life.  She is currently located in San Diego, CA.  

Her personal journey of struggle with several back injuries and surgeries led her to help her clients heal with tools beyond physical therapy.  

After the webinar I conducted with Shane, she sent me the below picture with the following commentary: “Just was practicing some of your paddling advice this AM in micro-sized surf ❤️🌊 grabbed about 10 waves.. first ones really since the surgery. ”  

Stoked to see her back in the water and continuing to help other surfers with Surf Body Connection!  

Shane after her first few waves after surgery
“I caught the best wave of my life and I have no doubt it was because of your paddling coaching.” – Garry H
Our lodging host and surf guide, Earl, at “proper” Bawa (photo by Johnny)

The crystal blue water rose closer and closer to the sky in front of me.  The sun’s light seemed to get darker with each moment.  “In 2, hold 2, out 2, 3, 4, 5…” I focused on my breathe and making sure to conserve energy.  This was going to be a romping.  Stay calm.  Don’t fight it.  The wave detonated in front of me, sending whitewater twice the height of the wave I saw moments before.  After traveling thousands of miles along the roaring forties and raging fifties, then up into the Indian Ocean, the wave unleashed all of its energy at me and boy, did I feel it.  We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. 

Garry, setting up (photo by Earl)
And Thomas setting up (among the coconut trees)

Every time I run a Mastery Surf Trip Experience I get nervous.  I get nervous not because I don’t think the participants can handle the surf, nor because I think it’s not going to go well.  I get nervous because I don’t know when throughout the week each participant is going to have their breakthrough moment.  It happens on different days for different people.  Sometimes, the first day is that big “ah-ha” moment.  Sometimes it’s the last.  And sometimes a new one happens each day.  This trip did not disappoint.

Up the reef at Asu
Sunset entertainment

The Mastery Surf Trip to Indonesia wrapped up on a remote island off of Nias.  Asu Island, a gem of a location, has one of the best coaching setups to push clients beyond their comfort zone to breakthrough moments.  A breakthrough moment could be a new paddling technique that hadn’t quite clicked yet but now does, it could be paddling into the biggest wave of their lives, it could be a newly learned breathing technique, a new way to practice the pop up, or practice the underwater armstroke.  For some, it could be combining all of the lessons to paddle into a wave they would not have paddled into before.  The best feeling for me is to see the moment happen.  The look on their face.  Their energy afterwards.  It’s hard to describe but definitely rivals being a kid again at Christmas. 

Sunshine trying out a twin fin
Justin sneaking in (photo by Earl)

The week started out with moderate sized waves at Bawa, Mini-Bawa (not so “mini”) and Asu.  As the week progressed, the waves played out like a crescendo in a song, growing until the last day.  I continue to return to Asu year after year because of Earl and the rest of the Asu Camp staff.  Earl, aka the human barometer, would wake up every day, look up at the sky, scratch his belly and then give us the low down on where and when the best surf of the day was going to hit.  He was barraged with questions throughout the day and answered them in turn with absolute professionalism and entertainment. 

Jimmy dropping in
Garry cutback at Asu, near the Nuclear zone

Between Earl, his wife Samantha, their son Noah, Folo and his family and the rest of Club Asu, we felt well taken care of, and as if we had just joined a family we didn’t even know we had.  You know it was a great trip when you see the genuine smiles on everyone’s faces light up your day.  

During our coaching sessions, Earl and I traded off in-water and on-land photographer/coach flawlessly and with no effort at all. And it paid off with each participant in the program hitting several breakthrough moments during the week.

Rob and Earl, collaborating (photo by Sunshine)
Earl, showing us how it’s done (photo by Johnny)

Our youngest and least experienced surfer, Justin, had only been surfing 4 years.  This was a trip designed to push his comfort zone as well as provide new opportunities for him to increase his surf knowledge.  I was floored with how much he was able to accomplish.  From getting cleaned up by one of the biggest waves he’s ever had to duck dive to getting his first legitimate in and out barrel, Justin had breakthrough after breakthrough.  He was a human sponge.  I would tell him one thing and the next moment, he’s already applied and mastered it.  Stroke count reduced, speed increased, and percentage of made waves increased threefold.  Then he moved onto more advanced techniques while riding – bottom turn timing, grabbing rail backside, pumping, cutbacks, wiping out correctly and barrel riding.  It was quite the performance and one that I hope stays in his memory forever.

Justin at Bawa
Justin on an Asu screamer

On the opposite end of the experience spectrum, Sunshine had been a U.S. Amateur Team surfer as well as on the Collegiate Championship team.  In other words, she rips.  And her paddling had improved an incredible amount since I began working with her two years ago.  This trip was an opportunity to push her comfort zone a bit higher and work on the sprint paddle into the wave.  Funny how we might view her experience and assume she’s comfortable in bigger waves.  Just goes to show that big waves are intimidating, no matter whether you are a beginner or an experienced team surfer.  It’s all relative.  What one surfer calls “big” will inevitably be different than another surfer’s definition of “big”.  Sunshine’s definition of “big” had certainly been revised after this trip.  I would add that a wave that seems intimidating to a surfer shouldn’t be defined solely on size.  An intimidating wave could be considered to another surfer as not necessarily big, but elements of that wave could be quite challenging and downright scary.  Such as shallow reef, the way it bends in or rears up on the reef, or even the pure power of the long period energy coming in.  Intimidating is intimidating.  And scary is scary.  It’s all in how you, yourself, define it.  And at the end of the day all that matters is whether you are growing and learning.  And Sunshine did that in spades, dropping into some bombs that reeled down the reef. 

Sunshine, on a slightly “bigger” wave than she’s used to
Burning off some of the speed she created

We also discovered how hard it is to convert paddling movements to long term memory.  On camera in flat water, her paddling stroke is an example to follow.  However, when paddling into uncomfortable waves, old habits die hard.  This is an important lesson to learn.  The more comfortable you are paddling into a wave, the easier it is to apply the techniques you have just learned.  Keep anxiety low and you’re able to apply lessons much more effectively.  This was shown on camera when she would paddle into waves that didn’t seem so intimidating, displaying a perfectly relaxed sprint paddle technique, often times with only one stroke that seemed like nothing to her. 

The best comment I heard from Sunshine, “Man, those waves are huge out there now”, when we were watching from the hut on land.  “Sunshine, the waves you were paddling into this morning were bigger and faster than what you’re looking at right now.  Here are the photos to prove it…”  Focus, practice, trust, and commitment to growth.  That’s all it takes and you can trick your mind without even knowing it.

After losing the center fin to the reef, Sunshine decided to twin fin it
Putting on the brakes

An amazing thing about Asu is that you will at some point surf by yourself.  On some days, you’re actually hoping someone else will paddle out so that the perfect waves you don’t catch get ridden also.  Garry had several sessions like this, sitting on his surfboard in the middle of the day for hours with no one else in the lineup.  While I shot from land or worked with others in the camp, he had his soul-searching sessions completely undisturbed.  When you have these sessions, you begin to think, maybe I should go in.  Then you kick out of another 200 meter wave ready to paddle back to the keyhole but see another set looming on the horizon up the point.  You can’t leave something like that and sleep well at night, so you paddle back out and catch one more.  Then one more.  Then one more…  I’ll go in when someone paddles out, you tell yourself.  But the conveyor belt continues – wave, look around shocked, paddle back out, wave, look around shocked, paddle back out – and so it continues.  These are the sessions you think aren’t real.  And much of your memory is blurred.  But the feeling is lasting.

Garry, ready for the ride of his life
All alone with no one to play with

Garry was another astute scholar.  He had taken the online course and had applied many of the lessons well, but like others who had done the same, had quickly realized the value in working together in person.  Our focus was on energy conservation initially and that paid off in those four to five hour power sessions.  A few drills were spent on speed and power generation and again, he immediately applied it, paddling into some of the biggest waves of his life.  During the evening photo and video reviews at dinner, we were able to show paddling issues we still want to work on.  The next day, those issues were gone.  Incredible student with the right kind of learning mentality. 

Coach Rob got a few fun ones (photo by Earl)
In-water coaching (photo by Earl)

Last year I led a group of surfers to Costa Rica and ran a similar program, covering Levels 1 and 2 while applying the lessons to Pavones’ long, carvable waves.  Thomas was on that trip and decided to circle the globe to join us on this trip to Indonesia.  Instead of long, carvable lefts, he wanted long barreling lefts.  Similar to last year, Thomas inspired me like no other.  He is 65 years old and is an absolute tube hound, tracking down the barrel whenever possible and tucking in.  A very casual and graceful style, Thomas is a surfer who has a lot of muscle memory coding in his brain.  But that also goes for his paddling as well.  At the beginning of the trip, I was a bit disappointed to see the old habits had returned to his paddling form (no double arm paddles!!).  But only after a few days reminders, he was paddling smoother and smoother into each successive wave, applying that casual style to his paddling as well as his riding.  We had more time to focus on the Level 2 content on Positioning that we addressed near the end of the trip last time and this practice made a profound difference in the waves he made versus the ones he didn’t.  Typically, when Thomas dropped in, he was getting tubed, plain and simple.  65 and tubed.  Like I said, inspirational.  His demeanor was pretty level as well.  I was jumping out of my skin watching him get barreled.  Me – “Thomas!!!  TUUUUUUUUBED!!  YEWWWW!!”  Thomas – “Yeah.  That was fun,” as mellow as you can say it.  But I know he was stoked.  You could see it in his eyes. 

Thomas and his super stylish bottom turn (photo by Earl)
TH, “Tube Hound” Thomas, getting out of the hot sun for a bit

Surfing is not the only thing that defines “Tube Hound” Thomas.  Like many of my clients, they all have interesting and inspiring lives outside of surfing.  Watching him apply his medical background on Asu’s emergency action plan was fascinating.  He shared with the locals emergency medical procedures and medical supplies that could help improve their lives.  Remember that we all have special talents that have been gifted to us.  Those talents are meant to be shared.  True happiness comes from serving others.  Thomas is indeed a happy guy, even if he doesn’t jump out of his skin to show it.

Thomas, so casual on take off
Any which way, super relaxed style

“So like, Rob, if I come out to see you, like, what do you do?  Like, let me be real.  Are you legit?”  This was my first experience with Jimmy after picking up a call that originated from Hawaii last year.  Immediately, I knew I was going to like this guy.  There was something about the way in which he spoke and the topics we got into that was intriguing.  He was definitely on another level when it came to his intelligence level (his CPU as he jokingly called it).  But he could be real all at the same time.  By day four, all of the beers had been consumed.  “Jimmy!  Did you drink all the beers?!?”  He didn’t drink ALL of them, but didn’t give away what he was doing.  After we had all gone to bed, he would stay up with the local staff and buy them drinks.  He played dice games and chatted in broken English and Indonesian with those that helped make our experience there on island the best it could be.  Club Asu is what he called it.  And then the next morning, he’d be the first one out in the water to grab some bombs at the crack of dawn.  Like I said, he’s an intriguing guy. 

Jimmy taking off deep (and making it around)
Jimmy tucked in at Bawa (photo by Johnny)

Jimmy’s been surfing for a while, and when he came to my house for a session a little over a year ago, it was apparent.  His muscle memory was very strong, but not in a good way.  I was half expecting all of his old habits to be revisited on this trip.  But surprisingly, they weren’t present.  It was fantastic!  Since that session, he would call me here and there to ask a question.  Then, he would just practice, practice, practice.  He was a great example of someone who put in the work and it paid off.  His regular paddling looks smooth and effortless.  And his sprint paddle was strong and effective.  All the while, he was still working on a shoulder injury he sustained a while back.  We worked on balancing out his power stroke on both sides of his body, pop up mechanics, and the underwater armstroke.  Earl and I worked with him on taking off on steeper, faster moving waves which paid off day by day after each night’s photo review.  By the last day, he took on “proper” Bawa (Earl’s description).  Heaving, double overhead walls of water, unloading without anything getting in their way.  They marched up the Indian Ocean and Jimmy was ready for them.  Paddling with power, popping up and dropping down, down, down, then setting his rail and pulling up.  The grin on his face was priceless.

Bawalanche and Jimmy (photo by Johnny)

This is why I love these experiences.  There is this spark of joy everyone gets after they know they’ve grown a bit more than the day before.  It spreads like wildfire.  It’s infectious.  And I thrive on that.  You know what I’m talking about?  Feels good, doesn’t it? 

See you in the water…

If you’re interested in visiting Earl and the rest of Club Asu on your own, visit

For upcoming Surfing Paddling Academy Surf Trips, Level 1 and Level 2 Mastery Weekends, Workshops, Private Coaching Days, Online Training, Wakesurfing Weekends and Surf Meet Ups, please visit for updates to the schedule.

Off the top Earl
Couples that surf together…Samantha showing Earl how to edge
Justin high speed line (photo by Earl)
Sunset cutback Jimmy
Thomas getting another tube
Coach Rob burning off some speed (photo by Earl)
Justin searching for another tube (after his first in and out)
Thomas dropping in, morning glass

A huge thank you to Earl, Samantha, Folo, and the rest of the Club Asu crew.  You are all so awesome and we are super grateful for your hospitality and care.  Terima Kasih!!

Surf Simply Podcast Surfing Paddling Technique

One of the most fun things I get to do is work with surfers on improving their surfing paddling technique, which in turn helps with their energy efficiency, power, and overall surfing experience.  

In this surf simply podcast, I had the opportunity to share a few nuggets of information on paddling technique as well as nerd out on the technical side of paddling a surfboard.  

Listen in by clicking here

Hope you enjoy and learn something new…




John john Florence Sprint Paddling Technique

John John Florence is a great example of a strong paddler.  In this video, John John Florence Sprint Paddling Technique, we investigate some key elements of a sprint paddling technique, which is slightly different than a regular paddling stroke.  When do we sprint?  Catching a wave, avoiding getting caught inside, or battling for priority in a competition.  

Even though we spend less than 5% of our paddling time sprinting, it’s a pretty important aspect to our arsenal!  

The video goes more into detail of the following John John Florence Sprint Paddling Technique.  Here is a summary:

  • Entry angle is steeper. When sprinting as opposed to regular paddling, the Lift phase (or the first phase) of the underwater armstroke is shortened because in this scenario, we’re really focused on getting our hand and forearm to the front propulsive phase of the stroke which is the second phase of the underwater armstroke.
  • Keeping the elbow high during that second phase of the stroke (the front propulsive phase).
  • Maintaining horizontal balance and reducing resistive drag as much as possible. Look first at how the noses of their boards are cutting through the frontal resistive drag.  
  • Not only is the nose of the board helping break up this frontal resistance, but also they are both using their fingertips and arms to cut through and create a hole so that the rest of their body and board can proceed through that hole. When most of our body is submerged in the water when paddling, this is something we need to do so that each stroke can help us travel the furthest before taking the next stroke.
  • Positioning of their heads – nice and low to the surface of the water. You don’t see them using a lot of energy trying to arch their backs. Instead, they reserve that energy by relaxing those back muscles, relaxing their neck muscles, and redirecting that energy towards engaging their latissimus dorsi and pectoralis major muscles which are our big power muscles for paddling. Their heads are relaxed and low to the water, with their faces almost touching the water.

Whether you are new to surfing or have been surfing for decades, you’ll gain valuable information so that you stop struggling with paddling.  Paddling is easily the most frustrating part of the surfing experience.  With very little effort, you can make paddling easier.  

Watch the video, write notes, ask questions.  I welcome comments and questions.  Please share with your friends if you find it helpful.

In the meantime, I’ll see you in the water,



why is surfing addictive

Do I have A Surfing Addiction?  

@surf_coach posed the question “why is surfing addictive” on Instagram and it got me thinking.  Why IS surfing so addictive?  So I did what I always do when I get curious – I did some research. 

I had to start with “what is addiction?” before I tried to reason what makes something addictive.  Addiction is a heavy topic and has endless resources that send you to drug, alcohol, sex, and even shopping addiction.  I didn’t think my surfing addiction was that bad…but drug and alcohol addicts don’t think they have it bad either.

There were numerous sources discussing the science behind addiction, such as what happens in the brain when the addiction makes a shortcut to the brain’s reward system.  Then the brain makes sure it happens again and again, laying down memories of the quick sense of satisfaction, and then creating a conditioned response to certain stimuli.  Cue – Behavior – Reward.  A habit is just formed.  Our noggins are gnarly.  

After searching days on this topic, I determined it is way too deep for me to get into here –  and I love science and research!  Right when I was about to scratch writing this post, I found the most basic explanation from Anthony Robbins.  Yeah, I know, he’s the self-help guy, but he makes a lot of sense here.  Continue reading “Why is Surfing Addictive?”