The Journey Towards Having More FUN Surfing

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


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.  


Crosby Colapinto vs Seth Moniz Paddle Battle in Tahiti – Examples of Good Sprint Paddling Technique and Bad Sprint Paddling Technique

In this video, I’m going to show you the top three techniques both surfers used that were good, and the top three bad techniques they ended up using once they fatigued; and I’m going to add a few bonuses at the end on why Seth won priority.

To learn more about the Level 1 Paddling Technique course, please feel free to reach out.



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...


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...


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...


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.


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...


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...


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...


MUST SEE: Best Surf Etiquette Video I've Seen In a While

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:

  • Paddling Out: If a surfer is riding as you are paddling out, take note of the direction they are surfing and paddle the opposite way to avoid crossing over their path (or interfering in...

Can You Time Sets in the Ocean?

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:



Paddling Technique - Slipping Explained

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.  

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