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.
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...
On my first trip to Indonesia, when I was 19 years old, I experienced a huge culture shock. I felt an immense gratitude for where and when I was born after watching one local washing clothes in a brown river, just downstream from another local relieving himself in the same river. I spent the remainder of the summer in a small town in Costa Rica which solidified the realization that I was a pretty darn lucky guy growing up where and when I did.
Since those trips, when I travel to another country to surf, I often times bring with me something to leave behind that could enhance the community in which I’m traveling. Generally, my donations are clothes (often times boardshorts) and/or fishing/spearfishing gear.
This isn’t an article about patting myself on the back, but rather a reminder to traveling surfers to remember that we are guests among the local community. As such guests, we should remember to tread lightly, and give back as much as we can at the time. Not only...
“I’ve never seen any scorpions here” was my first comment after arriving at camp the first day at nighttime. As soon as I left the common area, I saw my first one, slightly smaller than my palm, on the side of the walking trail as if to welcome me back to Baja (and to prove me wrong that they were in fact very present on the island).
On this trip we had colored fire, full moon viewing parties, ping pong addictions, massage guns, yoga sessions, lightning, magic; guitar, bongo and tambourine jam sessions; strange wake up calls, sombreros, sushi and uni, impromptu surf contests, cornhole, chess (and stories of how chess players were supposedly caught cheating), banana grams (“peel!”), monster kettles for coffee, coyotes stealing shoes, ring games for food, bonfires, a Mary Poppin’s bag of electronics; ospreys, whales, dolphins, pelicans, and a curious sea lion; and oh yeah, lots and lots of surfing (but no ATMs).
Looking back on the week of...
My wife isn’t a surfer. But as a loving spouse, she puts up with me and my surf addiction. On this particular day, she sat down to watch a few heats of the Tahiti Pro presented by Outerknown.
She had quite a few opinions on shark protection, helmets, scoring, celebrations, how to beat Kelly, the commentators, nicknames, coaching surfers, what the surfers talk about while waiting for waves, and more.
Video in the video: Copyright World Surf League
Barry turns to me and says, “who is this guy?!?”
The surfer in reference is a client of ours whose surfing did a complete transformation in the 3 days we visited Lakeside Surf in Washington for a co-coaching trip. Body movement coordination had changed, confidence increased, and the speed at which these things happened was incredibly fast.
The trip was simple. 3 days, 5 private sessions on the wave, video review, paddling review in the lake, Q&A, and any extra public sessions the group wanted to add on. Barry would cover riding the wave. I would cover paddling, and we’d all have a fun little surf trip.
Barry and I felt confident based on our own experience that this wave could help surfers progress their technique and get more riding time. But we weren’t expecting that it would move the needle as much as it did.
The surfers turned from down the line focused surfers to carving surfers, or surfers...
I don't teach surf etiquette. Or at least, I assume clients know surf etiquette when they work with me. But I've been surprised and despite focusing on paddling technique, I sometimes have to step in and provide some guidance on surf etiquette.
However, surf etiquette has many layers, and the more complex layers have traditionally been difficult to explain. Enter Brad Jacobson's recent video on surf "rules".
With a Bruce Brown-esq style narration and quippy movie clips embedded, Brad's videos are edited well and quite entertaining. This video explains surf etiquette the best I've seen in a long while. Filming mostly in Southern California, he has plenty of video showing poor etiquette examples as well as what to do to avoid breaking the "rules".
Here's a summary:
Can You Time Sets in the Ocean when you're waiting for waves?
Dr. David Sandwell, professor at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, proposed this question to his class.
Using some math, he concluded that yes, you can time sets. But will that be useful to us as surfers?
This video shows how you can use this information to increase your wavecount with the least amount of effort.
Enjoy and feel free to ask any questions:
Have you ever paddled as hard as you can for a wave and felt like you weren’t really going anywhere? It’s a high likelihood that your paddle strokes slipped.
Slipping is like a car spinning it’s wheels. Uses a lot of energy, but doesn’t move you forward very far.
You still move forward, but only from one of the two types of propulsion you are able to tap into.
Check out this video that explains what slipping is and why it's so important to prevent it.
Feel free to reach out to schedule a Level 1 or Level 2 paddling technique course! Looking forward to hearing from you.
A few clients turned me on to Brad Gerlach’s Wave Ki. They were finding that their surfing felt like it was improving after embarking on Brad's surfing guidance so I wanted to check it out to see what it was like.
I must state that the following review is not influenced by any referral fee, affiliate payout, or similar. This is my own opinion of Brad’s program based on my experience. Brad and I have spoken on the phone about how important it is to spread the word of what we do with genuine passion. This was after I had begun my journey in Wave Ki and was captivated by the results I was getting.
I'm a little over a year in. This is my honest opinion and experience with Wave Ki.
What is Wave Ki?
Wave Ki is a land-based practice similar to movement practice one might experience in martial arts. Barry Green has talked about treating surfing as a practice – something to be consistently working on with...
I’ve luckily been to the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch ten times now, almost all of them as a coach or analyst. The first few were as a consultant for WSL/KSWC to analyze why surfers were missing waves. After studying the problem and providing clear solutions, the performance training plan in which my paddling training was going to be apart of was tabled. But those experiences sparked an idea.
What if I could provide takeoff and paddling training BEFORE surfers arrived at the Surf Ranch? Would that increase their chances of making waves?
Those questions lived in my brain the next few times I had been invited to the Surf Ranch as an assistant coach, an extra resource to the surfers on the trip. As I provided on-site training, I kept asking myself how effective would a pre-visit training course be and how could I measure it?
My next step was a bit obsessive. I began compiling data. When I was brought in by WSL, they had collected all of...
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