Getting better at surfing is something that will happen just by surfing, for a time. But surfers like Kelly Slater and Josh Kerr don’t just go for a surf session every day and stumble onto the pro surfing scene, like the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay tournament.
Pro surfers watch what they eat and they work out outside of the water in ways they know will improve their performance in the water. Their workouts are designed to improve agility, speed, balance, flexibility, and explosive power (used for maneuvers like launching off the lip).
In fact, 75% of all pro surfers reportedly work out, outside of the water. And the 25% who don’t work out have become pro’s in spite of their lack of a work out. Bottom line: Going pro isn’t an accident, and if you’re willing to go the extra mile, you could make it.
If you’ve been surfing for a while, you no doubt have balance down really well. However, this is one area you can always improve on and become a stronger surfer.
Perhaps when you surf you fall down on waves you know you could have ridden longer. You lay in bed at night, still feeling the rocking of the waves, and you think about waves you caught–and lost. Maybe if you had crouched lower, or looked ahead, you could have stayed on longer. Maybe if you worked on your balance as part of a workout routine you would have had the balance skills to hang on through a rough spot.
Teach your body and mind to be more prepared out of the water than it will need to be while in the water, and your surfing will improve.
Here are five ways to improve your balance and surf stronger:
Learn to look ahead in the water, not down at your feet.
1. Balancing with Eyes Shut – For this exercise, you stand on the balls of your feet (the front of your feet, by your toes). Your heels hang off the edge of whatever you stand on. For example, you could stand on a step on a staircase, or on the edge of a sturdy box, with your heels hanging in the air. Close your eyes, and let the fun begin.
Hold your hands in the air in front of your chest. Keep your ankles relaxed and be ready to make quick and small adjustments. With your eyes closed, your body will want to lean forward, and if you over-correct, you may find yourself falling backward. Make small adjustments to your stance to continue standing in the initial position.
This exercise is fun and will improve your balance dramatically. If you’ve been finding yourself staring down at your surfboard and feet while surfing, this exercise will help you learn to balance while looking ahead at the water.
Get Ready to Hang 10
2. Walk a Tight Rope – Setting up a tight rope to walk on isn’t as complicated as it sounds. You need a rope, and you tie it very tightly at two points, about 6-12 inches off the ground.
Carefully step onto the rope and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. It isn’t important to make it all the way across the first try, and it isn’t important to walk quickly.
If you want to hang 10, you have to get proficient at putting one foot in front of the other. At least you aren’t also being moved along on your surfboard by a wave that tilts left and right. Considering the difficulty of hanging 10, walking the tight rope is child’s play.
Prepare to Get Shoved
3. Balance on One Foot, Bend at the Waist – Keep your spine straight, and bend at the knee while balancing on only one foot. Let your arms hang down in front of you, and keep your knees bent. It’s easy to get into one position like this, so now move your upper body to the left, the right, and try different angles. When it’s too easy for you, pick a position, and close your eyes. Use your arms to make quick and small adjustments to maintain your balance.
This exercise is fun and prepares you for unexpected wave movements. All those times you flew forward on your surfboard are the times you’re preparing for with this exercise.
Improve Balance and Improve Your Ab Strength
4. Stand on One Foot and Play Catch – This is a fun exercise you can do at the beach with a fellow surfer. While standing on one foot, toss an object back and forth. If you have a medicine ball, use it. If not, use anything, even a football or basketball.
Make it a game, with both of you standing on one foot, tossing the object back and forth, and see who loses their balance first. For improved ab strength, a 5 pound medicine ball is best. If you fall down, you gain a point; first person to get 10, loses.
On Land Surfing
5. Skate – Skating is the next best thing to surfing, and it’s what we do when the surf is flat. Skateboarding requires balancing of your whole body while you move along at a fast pace and make unexpected moves and turns. Improve your skating and you improve your surfing.
Do you actively focus on becoming a better surfer by improving your balance? What methods do you use?
Our friends at Texas Surfers hooked us up with this article. Check them out!