6 Reasons Why Your Surfing Is Not Improving

Getting stuck in a rut with your surfing can be super frustrating, and it can happen at any level. One day you’re catching every wave you paddle for, feeling like you’re coming on leaps and bounds. The next day, things might feel sticky and awkward, like you’ve lost your flow. Don’t stress yourself though! Meeting challenges is a natural part of your surfing journey, and it usually means you’re one step away from upping your game.

See if you’re making any of the following mistakes that could be holding up your surfing progress!

  1. You’re surfing without an aim

Setting a goal for each session allows you to focus on one skill you want to improve. Before you paddle out, pinpoint an area of weakness that you want to work on, then break down the movements into smaller goals. You might focus on getting compression for your bottom turn for example, or opening your shoulders as you move through a turn. Be realistic with your goals and match them with your current skill level to avoid getting frustrated. Working towards something that’s just out of your reach is much more effective than pushing yourself way outside of your comfort zone and capabilities. 

2. You’re trying to force things in the wrong conditions

You also need to adjust your surfing to suit the conditions. It’s still important to have a clear goal in mind, but don’t be so rigid with it that you end up forcing something to happen on a wave that won’t allow it. Read the wave, respond to the conditions and try the skill or manoeuvre you’re focusing on if the opportunity arises, instead of forcing it to happen in less than ideal conditions. This way, you can stay connected with the flow of the wave and respond to what it’s telling you.

3. You’re using the wrong equipment

You might think that jumping straight onto a shortboard once you’ve had a few lessons will help you improve faster, but this is where a lot of new surfers go wrong. A shortboard is less stable and you’ll find it much harder to paddle and catch waves. This is because there’s a smaller area of the board in contact with the water, meaning less board for the wave to pick up. And if you’re not catching waves, you’re not getting any opportunity to put what you’ve learned into practice – and you probably won’t be having much fun either! Progress slowly and try a 7’2-8ft mini mal for more stability.

4. You’re not matching the power of the wave

The power of a wave depends on its size, steepness, how quickly it’s breaking and the swell period (the amount of time between swell lines). If a wave is moving quickly with a lot of power, you’ll want to match it with a strong bottom turn. But leaning in hard for a bottom turn on a mushy, waist-high wave wouldn’t make sense – it would overpower the wave. It takes time and experience to feel out which approach is best. You can also check the swell period on the forecast to get an idea of how fast the waves will be moving and how powerful they will be ahead of your session.

5. You’re putting too much pressure on yourself

You will naturally come across challenges as you progress, and that’s the only way you’re going to improve. So embrace them and remember that surfing is supposed to be fun! If you’re feeling really stuck in a rut, try changing things up. Have a go on a longboard if you’re used to riding something shorter or head to a new spot with a friend. If all else fails, just grab a foamie, have zero expectations and go back to basics. You’ll catch heaps of waves and have loads of fun!

6. You’re not getting the right guidance for your level

Surfing with people who are better than you is a great way to improve. If you have friends who rip, ask if you can go out with them one day and let them teach you by example. They can watch your waves and give you some helpful pointers, or you can simply watch them and study where they sit in the lineup, what they do with their arms on a wave and how they choose a wave. Better still, book an immersive surf experience (like a weekend course or a trip abroad) or get some private coaching to see where you’re going wrong.

Getting in the water as much as you can, setting goals and trying different boards will help you push through when you’ve hit a wall. But sometimes it takes a little more to reignite your love for surfing and find your fun again…

On our intensive surf coaching weekends, you’ll fast-track your progress, see guaranteed improvements and work through whatever blocks are holding you back. Click here to find out more about our surf coaching weekends and book your place! 

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