In most of our minds surfing is thought of as far more than just a traditional sport, and it’s not unusual when we are coaching to hear people with a fairly negative view of traditional sport or sports coaching. But surfing is booming in many ways and much of this article and video is dedicated to those who have taken up surfing later in life. It’s just not possible in this short article to go into the many technical drills that can be used in simulation training for surfing but we will expand on these in future articles and we hope the video here gives you the flavour of what is possible.
So what’s later in life in surfing terms? Let’s use 12 years of age as a rough benchmark for the surfer who surfs irregularly, doesn’t live on the coast but really wants to get proficient and of course there are legions of people far older who are really desperate to advance their surfing as the years pass by. Yet they are land locked and dry docked.
We know the key to maintaining a level where, on each surf trip, we see advancement in our ability level is simulation training. The funny thing is the hot young surfer living by the coast and surfing every day will come across exactly the same style of simulation training as they come to elite surf coaching. It works at all levels.
Think of a golfer at the driving range or a cricket player in the nets and we have a form of simulation training. Perhaps it’s not the real game but vital parts of that game and those key essentials are involved… technique and visualization and muscle memory.
There are many examples of this in sport but perhaps one of the most well known is the classic sequence in the Karate Kid with Mr Miyagi’s “wax on wax off “ training regime. It’s a great example of perfect simulation training. When we look at the idea of learning technical movements of the body linked with visualization skills we find that repetition and a “deeper than thought” physical acceptance of those movements often carry the keys to success when it comes to their full speed execution.
Now take surfing and its ever changing playing field of the wave and we see a perfect scenario for simulation training, and as we said, especially for the many surfers who are land locked and just not getting enough time in the water and especially for the many that have come to surfing later in life and who’s muscle memory needs a constant bit of massage as it were.
So that massage has to be mental too and simulation trainings life partner is visualization. How many times have you stood a beach and mind surfed across the best of waves? Countless times we would imagine and using positive visualization while taking part in simulation training just cements the whole practice together. We can also address good visualization in a future blog.
But does this mean 30 pop ups a week in your living room or getting on that Carver board or similar in Hamburg or London or any other place you can think of? Why not? Surely that glide across the waves of your dreams is worth it? But there are so many other dry drills that will really help like practicing turns and vision and all this just adding to that essential “Karate Kid” behavior on the wave.
Lastly here’s a bit of magic about simulation training from this year’s WSL Pro Tour. The contest in the men’s was due to be held at the infamous Box in Margret River. Australia. Italo Ferreira of Brazil had never surfed there but on his first wave he pulls off a backhand no hands barrel. Stunning! In an interview later he credits getting up in the middle of the night, full of nerves, to practice his backside pop up in his bedroom and focus on opening his shoulders on takeoff. Funny thing was the interviewer just thought that it was funny and had no real idea of the concept that Italo was talking about. So if it’s good enough for the pros?