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.
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...
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...
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’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...
This past month I was fortunate to be asked to coach at the Surf Ranch again, this time with Barry Green, head coach at Centered Surfing in Santa Cruz.
I am always in awe of the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch experience. In a place in which a surfer benefits with more waves when someone falls, no one is ever rooting for someone to fall. In fact, the majority of the behavior I see are surfers spreading aloha to each other.
When a surfer falls, but the next surfer can't go because of the timing, I don't often see that next surfer complain. Rather, I see that surfer cheer on the surfer that fell, propping them up rather than putting them down. I've even heard surfers call the next person down the line to go, and surfers giving away priority waves to other surfers.
Maybe it's the groups I've had the chance to go with, maybe it's the culture radiating from the surf guides and safety team, or maybe it's just luck, but I've seen very...
Sometimes, the best plan is a backup plan.
As surfers we learn to be adaptable. Tide changes, we adapt. Peak shifts, we notice. The goal is always the same - find that wave riding feeling.
This past month a few friends and I had planned a trip and those plans went to hell in a handbasket. So, we had to pivot, and it turned out to be one hell of a ride.
Mike, Andy, Kevin, Travis and myself had planned out a three day boat surfing trip at a location renowned for good water all day. The campsite was booked, the boat prepped, itinerary set. But then the Caldor fire in the Tahoe National Forest smoked us out.
The air quality forecast was unhealthy for the days we had planned to go. What to do then? Chance it, and hope the forecast was bunk? The wind forecast is notoriously inaccurate when there are wildfires.
With two from our group inbound via car and plane, we had to make a decision. Lucky for us, that dead wind that forecasted the poor air quality was perfect for a local surf...
I hate to say this, but unless you experience the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch yourself, it’s hard to imagine the spectrum of emotions, thoughts and feelings that drive you to share your experience with everyone you meet. I’ve coached there five times now, and have had the opportunity to surf it twice, and can attest that there is something special about the experience.
The night before you get to surf the wave for the first time, your heart pounds faster than a drum roll. You then attempt to calm it through a variety of breathing and meditation techniques. The effect is negligible before you begin again to imagine yourself blowing the wave, or not making the barrel, or not being able to catch it, and your heart rate goes up again. And this is all the night before you arrive.
Upon arrival, with little to no deep sleep, the roller coaster begins again with your heart rate as you try your hardest to understand where you’re supposed to sit in the basin, how to decipher...
My friends and I developed a Golden Water Time Rule when we first started surfing. It wasn’t formally discussed, or written down, but this simple golden rule of ours kept us happy and would guarantee we would get in the water each and every time we went to the beach.
I grew up about 35 minutes away from the closest beach, an hour away from the closest beginner break, and when I started surfing, I was too young to drive. At one point, I created a foamboard presentation (that’s what we used before computers) attempting to convince my mother why it was in her best interest to drive me and my friends to the beach. “You’d get a lot of reading time in, without interruption.” “Sun and relaxing!” (That one was a bit of a stretch in Northern California as the coastline is notoriously cold and overcast). “We’ll even pay for gas.” (another stretch – I’m not entirely sure we had enough money to...
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