The Journey Towards Having More FUN Surfing

Surfing means different things to different people, but should always remain at its core

Fun

Lack of progression and fatigue leads to frustration which then leads to an unpleasant lineup.  Nobody wants that.  The first step in thwarting this downward spiral is to improve your entire surfing experience, from the pre-surf ritual, paddling out, deciding on a spot to surf, making adjustments, choosing the wave for you, riding with flow, kicking out, sharing with others, and finally exiting the water to talk story with others afterwards.  At its root, to have more fun means to improve.  It doesn't matter where you start in this journey of progression, from novice to pro, you can always improve and enjoy the experience of surfing just a little ... bit ... more.  

 

Rainbow Takeoffs and Funnels of Fun at Kelly Slater Surf Ranch

surf trip May 02, 2024

[highlights video below]

“This is the last year I will run this,” is always what I say a few weeks before each Kelly Slater Surf Ranch trip. The amount of financial, logistical, and anticipatory stress I endure would put any cardiologist on call.

And yet, each year, I am utterly blown away with the feeling of joy and fulfillment the aftermath brings.

Simply looking at the happiness on the faces of the participants is enough to make me do it all over again.

BEST STATS to DATE

On top of seeing their ecstatic faces after each wave, it seems the pre-trip training has proved successful once again (and was so close to the 90% benchmark I set as a goal each year).

Not only did this group register the highest Priority takeoff success rate at 88%, but they improved immensely in both the Pro and Poach takeoff zones (80% and 85% respectively).

AND, of the participants on this year’s trip, only five surfers had previously taken the pre-trip Take Off Training and...

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A Case for the 3-Stroke Burst

The other day, I witnessed a surfer paddling as fast and as hard as he could to catch a wave that was still ten feet behind him. The wave inevitably caught up to him and he eventually caught it, got to his feet and rode away.

He paddled out for another wave, and at the next opportunity, he repeated his sequence of events, paddling as hard and fast as he could with the wave at least ten feet behind him. On this attempt, the wave moved underneath him, and he rolled down the back of the wave. So, he didn’t paddle back out as far.

On his third opportunity, he once again started to paddle as fast and as hard as he could with the wave ten or more feet behind him, but this time the wave crashed horribly on top of him and sent him rolling around in the washing machine.

He then headed in. Given the three wave attempts I observed, he had a 33% make rate. On top of that, he looked tired, and I’m sure would have said he needs to get more “paddle fit”.

But what if there...

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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility – What is Back Paddling?

The other day, I was with a client and we were working on techniques and concepts in the Level 2 course while in the Ocean 1 session. I noticed him take a wave and then paddle back out to the main takeoff area. We waited next to each other for a bit, then he saw the next set starting to arrive and made a move deeper in the lineup, past a few surfers who had been waiting patiently and who had not dropped in on him during the last set.

He proceeded to paddle past them, position himself deeper than the waiting surfers, turn and went.

I immediately looked at the three surfers he backpaddled. They looked frustrated and upset, as they should have.

When my client returned to the lineup, I pulled him aside.

“Great wave. And great wave before that. Listen though, now that you have efficient and effective paddling, you need to be aware of that power and balance the use of it in the lineup.”

I felt like Uncle Ben in Spider-Man. “With great power comes great...

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The Learning Click

Edward Thorndike is one of the godfathers of motor learning. He lived in the late 1800s into the early to mid 1900s and studied a variety of different psychological topics.

From his research, I’ve used several key takeaways in adult learning, and have witnessed what I like to call the “learning click”. This is in reference to a client’s body and brain finally “clicking” on what we are working on.

I see the click in the body language and confidence of movement, and whenever I see it, I get this fire of joy deep in my belly. It feels like surfing my first wave all over again. It’s the ah-ha moment and I can visually see clients go through this often when we work on paddling technique together.

On our trip to Lakeside Surf last summer, I got to witness it with a surfer riding the wave. It wasn’t a paddling technique clicking, but rather a surf technique clicking. And it was crazy for me to witness that in the moment (actually I witnessed...

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4 Reasons Why Jack Robinson won the Paddle Battle Against Leo Fioravanti at JBay

Was this a case of Technique, Fitness, or a combination of both?

Check out this video to learn more:


There are 4 main reasons why Jack Robinson came from behind and won this paddle battle against Leo Fioravanti at JBay.

  1. Stroke Rate
  2. More Effective Propulsion
  3. Heart Rate (management of his own, and starting from a lower heart rate than Leo)
  4. Drafting

I’ll break it down for you one by one.


STROKE RATE

Let’s start with Stroke Rate. First we need to understand that Speed is a function of Stroke Rate and Distance Per Stroke.

Measuring 1 minute of paddling during the stage in which Jack passed Leo, I measure he took 110 strokes while Leo took 102 strokes. This leads to an 8% advantage in Stroke Rate.

Assuming they both have a similar distance per stroke, you can now see the speed differential. However, I am also concluding that Jack had more effective propulsion, which would increase the Distance he travels with each stroke he takes.

Just a 10% improvement in distance per...

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Lakeside Surf Rail Surfing Coaching Trip with Barry Green

surf technique surf trip Jul 26, 2023

Lakeside Surf delivers again with a truly one-of-a-kind surf trip. Traveling inland, deep in the state of Washington, felt strange, as it has the last two times we've gone there to surf. We traveled with boards between four and a half and five and a half feet, with volumes 20-40% lower than most people ride. [see video at the end of the article]

But that's the thing. There's no need for length or volume when the wave provides you all the speed you want. 

This environment gives the surfer the most unique coaching experience for rail surfing. The same wave, the same section, repeatable, without paddling or taking off. 

Sounds too good to be true?

There's always a catch. 

As we disclosed in the last Lakeside trip blog post - From a Down the Line to a Carving Surfer … in 3 Days - there is a bit of a learning curve before you can begin unlocking the wonders of rail surfing. 

Of the wave pools Barry and I have visited, Lakeside has the steepest learning...

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Did We Just Get Surfed Out...in Texas?!?

surf trip surfing Apr 18, 2023

A somewhat last minute strike mission to Waco Surf led to some tired bodies. Not so much in the arms and shoulders, but the entire body, because we were surfing a tremendous amount of waves.

Our hearty crew of five started with a few public sessions to get warmed up and wash off the air travel. After that we jumped into our first of three private sessions the next morning, calling up a wave profile that provided a little more time in between waves within each set.

This was the first test.

We still got a ton of waves, and I was a bit nervous about what was to come. I had to stop myself for a moment though – I was nervous about our group having too many waves (and hence waves going unridden)! What a problem to have.

After that first private, we felt we had a good plan with the wave profile we selected, especially since the next day we’ll be getting one more surfer in our group. Yes, we each had a ton of waves because even with that wave profile, there were three...

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Learning Curves at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch

Another Surf Ranch Coaching trip done, and even more interesting results compiled. Once again, our group, with the pre-training we provided and the online course used, resulted in a group average 81% takeoff make rate at the priority takeoff areas. This is once again well above the average from trips without the pre-training (58%).

But that won’t be the point of this article as I’ve covered this twice now in the previous two trips (see Gaining An Advantage At Surf Ranch and Pre-Trip Surf Ranch Takeoff and Paddling Training Increases Probabilities of Making Waves).

Something new became unearthed. A question Barry and I had discussed a little on one of the podcast episodes (Skill Acquisition Methods, Benefits and Limitations) about learning curve with all of these new wave pools / training experiences.

One of the members of the recent trip to the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch had asked me if it was at all possible to not have two night sessions during the trip. Due to the...

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Recon Strike Mission to BSR Waco Surf

surf trip Dec 28, 2022

I wasn’t expecting much for our first recon mission to Waco Surf.  In fact, I was almost writing it off even before we arrived. 

After running co-coaching trips to various locations, I’ve found that each trip exposes deficiencies and strengths in different surfers.  I felt at that point, between Baja, Kelly Slater Surf Ranch, Indo, Costa Rica, Lakeside, and Boat Surfing behind my boat, I had all the bases covered.  There were waves for beginners, intermediates, and advanced surfers.  There were rights, lefts, tubes, rippable sections, slow sections.  You could ride longboards, mid-lengths, and shortboards. 

I didn’t think there was anything left to cover. 

But Waco Surf and the Perfect Swell technology changed my mind. 

The variety of waves and the repetition was what I was expecting.  I hadn’t expected the number of coaching opportunities that it presented. 

I invited a small group of close clients and...

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Gaining an Advantage at Surf Ranch

As a consultant for WSL/KSWC to analyze why surfers were missing waves a few years ago, I always held onto the thought that with some proper training, surfers could improve their takeoff make rate. Our last co-coaching trip to the Surf Ranch (with CenteredSurfing's Barry Green - February 2022) showed evidence that was the case. I was curious to see what might happen on our next trip – would the make rate stay the same, go down, or what I hoped, go up?  

With the provided Surfing Paddling Academy Takeoff and Paddling training conducted before surfers arrived at the Surf Ranch, they were as prepared as they could be (as long as they actually performed the exercises provided). 

Observing many of the surfers during the trip, providing on-site, in the water coaching, I thought that the make rate might have gone down.

However, I was gleefully surprised when I compiled the data from the most recent trip.

To remind you of some of the data from the last trip as...

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