When surfing, we all go through a whole range of emotions, thoughts and worries. Although you might feel like you are the only one struggling with some internal battles, we assure you – we’re all in the same boat.
The pro’s might make it look effortless and fluid, but the truth is surfing is truly the hardest sport to learn. There are so many changing variables – the type of wave, the size, the tides, the wind, the swell direction- that you are constantly having to adapt and adjust.
All these uncontrollable things are part of the external environment, and they can have a huge impact on wether you have the best or hardest session of your life.
However. There is also the internal environment which is basically YOU.
- Your physical condition
- Your willingness to commit and to get out of your comfort zone
- Your vibe
- The way you feel physically and mentally
- all the self-limiting actions and beliefs you nourish on that particular day
All this will affect how your surf session plays out.
Here are some issues that all of us experience that you just need to learn to control, because a big part of surf, is a mental game!
Problem: I really feel like surfing, but there’s so many people on the beach and they will probably all be watching me. What if I’m not able to catch a wave… or if I fall on my take-offs…I don’t want to turn myself into a shit show! There’s so much pressure, I think I’ll wait a bit later, there might be less people on the beach.
Leave that pride of yours at home. If you want to get good at it, you will have to look ridiculous a thousand times, so please don’t take yourself too seriously. That’s the price to pay! PLUS, nobody gives a shit if you bailed on your take-off or if you’re not doing some radical manoeuvres. Surfing with pressure only makes you surf worse; remember, it’s a mental game.
Chill out, go surf and once you’re in the water, just concentrate on the waves. Everyone else is way too busy worrying about their own self and they truly don’t care if you perform or not. And if some people are really watching you, they will probably just remember your good waves and maybe your funny wipeouts and then you’ll have something to laugh about.
If there’s a good surfer watching you, it probably means you’ve caught his attention, and the good thing about it is that he might give you feed-back on your session. Think about it, that is free coaching that might turn into a summer love, girl! Double win! 😉
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Problem: I’m not going to the peak because I don’t have the necessary skills and I can’t compete with good surfers. I’m scared I’m going to mess up a good wave that someone else could have surfed better. Plus, I would be the only girl out there…
Lack of confidence and surfing doesn’t go together. You’re the only girl? Great! Show those men what a girl can do. Waves don’t belong only to good surfers; everyone has the right to catch them.
No one ever started surfing being good from the start and no one has the right to tell you that you don’t deserve that wave -except if you’re putting yourself in danger-. Get that confidence back and paddle proudly to the peak.
You’re the only girl? Great! Show those men what a girl can do.
If you are a total beginner, it’s true that it might not be a good idea to go to the peak because you don’t have the experience. You could injure yourself and others badly and get enemies.
But if you know how priorities work, you’re able to read and paddle the wave by yourself and you’re able to manage your own board -you can do a turtle roll or duck dive and you know how to avoid being in the way of an other surfer’s wave-, you have the right to be out there!
Problem: It’s my turn to take the next wave but that surfer -who seems to be a good surfer- is paddling back from a wave and he’s going in my inside. I don’t want to paddle more in the inside because then I’m probably going to be too deep to catch the wave. It’s just so hard to catch a wave, there’s always someone in my inside…
There will always be more experienced (or not necessarily) surfers that will paddle back straight in the inside. Sometimes, they are being “cocky” and want all the waves but sometimes they paddle back there because they know they can pass that first section -that is too fast for you and that’s why you are sitting a bit further- However, a good surfer should know who’s turn it is and if he sees that you didn’t catch a wave in the past set, the next one should be yours even if he’s on your inside.
If you see that someone who just got a wave goes back in your inside, you need to demonstrate your engagement by paddling hard for your wave showing clearly that you are going for it. When you are not an experienced surfer, it feels intimidating to “fight the inside” because you’re never really sure who’s turn it is and you’re afraid to do a bad move. But try to notice who is still waiting for a wave versus who just got back from a wave. You have priority over those who just got back- even if they go straight in your inside. Make eye contact and don’t be shy to call out that it’s your turn to go.
You need to show your engagement for a wave otherwise, you’ll end up waiting hours, catching only the shitty ones.
Let’s be honest, in many situations, you will feel that people are hungry for waves, especially when you’re surfing a crowded spot, and they won’t make your experience easy for you. In these cases, remember that it’s a jungle environment.
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Let’s be the lion and not the gazelle.
I know it’s hard, but just remember that you have the right to be there and that, just like everybody in the water, you deserve to be catching waves. Also, keep on smiling, this will save you a lot of bad vibes and arguments… sharing is caring, no ?!
Problem: I kind of think it’s a good wave but I’m not 100% sure, maybe I’m too deep or maybe I won’t make it… Maybe this wave is way to big for my skills. I will paddle for it anyway, but if I don’t make it, it doesn’t matter, at least I’ll have tried…
When you go for it, YOU GO FOR IT! When you paddle for a wave, commit and don’t look back. Paddle with all that you have. Your face has to look horrible. If you’re still cute, it means you are not paddling hard enough and this can lead to:
• Doing a super late drop that makes you fall really badly, maybe on your board or on your fins which can be the worst scenario possible;
• Doing an “over the falls” where you will get smashed by the wave and get dragged up and down like you’re in a washing machine ride- without the opportunity to breathe
• Breaking your board while you do your “late drop” or your “over the fall”. You do not want to break your board, it’s expensive and it makes you finish your session on a bad note
• Making you stay on the top of the wave letting you watch from behind that perfect wave breaking alone with you NOT surfing it. You will be mad at yourself, you will be embarrassed and you’ll feel terrible because you’ve missed your opportunity of riding that wave.
On big waves, let’s remember that any lack of faith or moment of hesitation will lead to a fail.
So even if it’s scary as f*ck, your best call to surviving this is to go full on with fierce conviction. It’s a mental game. When surfing, your survival instinct will make you take the worst decision for you and that’s why it is so hard. You have to master your mind and make it command the contrary of what your biological survival instinct is telling you to do.
PLUS, paddling hard and strong will only make your drop easier and make you gain some speed on the wave which makes everything much easier.
So yeah, paddle hard girl! Long strikes with all that strength you’ve got. Commit to your wave!
Problem: I have a super cute bikini.. I’m not sure it’s going to stay on, but it’s so nice, I would have such good pictures surfing in that bikini.
Choose comfort and reliability! I know surf and fashion are often interconnected but make sure you have the proper suit to go surfing. There’s nothing worse than constantly being worried about showing those intimate parts of your body. It ruins your session. It truly does.
Especially when you are in a critical situation where you have to choose between pulling up your bikini bottom that is now to your knees- or paddle to save yourself from being hit by that big surprise set. So leave those fancy bikinis for your after-surf chilling on the beach.
There are so many brands doing nice suits made especially for surfing. It’s worth the investment, believe me! This is an extreme sport, not a fashion show !
So tighten up your bikini girl, and paddle out there !!!
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Co-written by Marie-Christine Amyot and Ariane Brien-Chicoine
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