Making the transition from intermediate to advanced surfer is a tricky step. And it’s one that isn’t helped by an unwillingness to accept advice. As surfers we display a reluctance to continue with lessons and are certainly sensitive towards anyone attempting to unpick what is going wrong and daring to make suggestions as to how it can be put right. Yet this hesitancy to seek advice can lead to a lifetime of bad habits. Poor technique can become ingrained, making the journey of improvement infinitely more difficult than it needs to be.
Here are 8 tips that every intermediate surfer should follow to ensure that the journey to advanced wave-rider is a realistic and obtainable goal.
1) Don’t Over Work A Wave
As soon as you’ve mastered turning the board the temptation is to be constantly working your feet. Incessantly wiggling on every section of the wave, not a single moment of the ride when the board is simply planing along the open face of the wave. However, less is most definitely more. Not only does overworking the board sap your speed, it doesn’t look particularly graceful. Don’t be afraid to pick a line and hold it, savouring the turns for when they are necessary.
2) Master the Bottom Turn
3) Practice Specific Manoeuvres
Surfing relies so much on instinct that conscious decisions need to be forced to the front of your mind. If you’re struggling with your bottom turn – then spend a week practicing nothing but bottom turns. Take off on a wave with a clear intention, and once you’re done, paddle back out to the lineup and do it again. If your cut-backs are your weakness, then make this your focus. When you’re struggling with a certain aspect of your surfing, in the brief moment of the wave, you’re going to default to the path of least resistance, subconsciously avoiding the move unless you force yourself to do it.
4) Get Someone to Film You
5) Get to Your Feet Quickly
The temptation is to quickly eye up a wave before you pop to your feet. But those few vital seconds where you’re looking down the line and deciding how best to approach the upcoming swell are costing you crucial speed and power. Don’t hover on your locked arms, as soon as the wave takes you get to your feet and drive down the line to beat the section. And don’t drag your feet on take-off, anything other than one fluid motion costs you valuable pace.
6) Paddle Hard & Fast
7) Ride the Wave to the End
Attempting to ride every last second of the wave is a useful lesson in how to maintain fluidity and learning where you’re scrubbing unnecessary momentum from your ride. Attempting to perform turns in the smaller section of a wave is much more difficult and will help to improve your understanding of weight distribution and transfer.
8) Know Your Limitations
It’s easy to watch the likes of John John Florence and Kelly Slater making the most ridiculous of moves look easy and convincing ourselves that we’ll spend the next session mastering the 580-rodeo-back-flip. But most of us will never get close to pulling off moves similar to those being performed by the world’s best. Rather than flinging your board skywards at every opportunity in an unrealistic attempt to land an improbable air, concentrate on doing the simple things well. Smooth turns, powerful clouts off the lip and a soulful style are far classier than a frenzied combination of incomplete manouevres.