8 Ways To Build Confidence For Surfing

If I had a pound for every time, someone told me they’d lost their confidence in the surf – I’d be somewhere on a luxurious Maldives boat right now! 😉 

Since starting Women + Waves I’ve been trying to understand why so many of us (myself included) have lost this trust in the ocean and more importantly lose trust in ourselves.  

Losing your confidence can stem from several things. Maybe you’ve gone beyond your comfort zone too quickly or feel the pressure of others in the line-up? Or maybe you’ve just experienced a solid wipe-out that felt like an eternity underwater?  

I hear ya! We’ve been there! The good news is, you can conquer these fears in no time! With decades of experience within our team – we have some great advice to help you feel more confident, calm and collected whilst out in the surf, which will naturally help you perform better!


Coaching Outdoor Activity Instructor Training

Tip 1 – It’s ok to feel anxious

Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s ok to be a little bit anxious when entering the sea – you’re human! That’s just your body’s natural flight or fight response kicking in. Your body tends to pump some extra adrenaline around when you’re nervous, which isn’t a bad thing – use it to your advantage and apply it to your paddle out! 

Also, don’t get tied up worrying about your anxious thoughts,  just acknowledge them, then put them aside and tell yourself you’re about to enjoy an epic surf! 

Tip 2 – LAUGH! 

Remember – you’re going to fall off. It’s inevitable when surfing. 

However, the more you fall off – the more you learn and will progress. 

The best thing to do when you wipe out is LAUGH! And make it a habit! 

Laughing is contagious.  When we laugh, signals run throughout our bodies, making us feel happy, alert, and chill. Even if it’s a fake laugh – it still creates the same good feeling! So get a creepy fake chuckle on with your mates and you’ll end up in fits of giggles in no time.


Tip 3 – Bodysurf

Before entering the sea, put your board down to one side and go for a quick bodysurf. Feel the power of the ocean without a board by your side. This will give you a good idea of what you’re going into. Enjoy getting tumbled around a little bit.

Our lovely coach Emma loving a bodysurf!

Tip 4 – Rhythmic breathing

Here’s a secret, rhythmic breathing is actually better than taking ‘a deep breath’ – When you practice a steady rhythmic breath, this pattern aims to reduce anxiety. Studies suggest

that 6 weeks of practising pranayama breathing, or breathing that focuses on controlling breath movement, may have a positive effect on a person’s heart rate variability, which correlates with stress and also improves cognition and anxiety.

Try the 4-7-8 technique, also known as “relaxing breath,”. It involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. Try this for 5 minutes before your surf and see how calm and focussed you feel.

Tip 5 – Surf with people who are better than you or join a club

Surfing with people who are better than you is a great way to help you progress and give you a push in the right direction. Or join a club where you’ll have a heap of like-minded supporters cheering you on, so much it distracts you from any worries. Check out our Women + Waves Surf Socials, a pressure-free surf – it’s all about just having fun, and after all, that’s what it’s all about right?

Shot during our monthly surf club socials.

Tip 6 –  Strip it back

If you’ve stopped having fun, maybe remember back to when it was fun. Was it being back on a foam board? Maybe it was surfing small waves or even going in the white water? Go have fun again. Soon you’ll remember why you wanted to surf bigger waves in the first place. Plus surfing doesn’t have to be about surfing big waves and getting barreled, enjoy the little waves for as long as you want. It’s your surfing journey, no one else’s. Do what makes you happy. 

Tip 7 – Knowledge is power

You might be catastrophizing a scenario that is unlikely to happen. If you’re worried about getting stuck in a rip, getting in people’s way, not being able to make it out back or rocking up at the beach and it being double overhead then make sure you take the time to learn some surf theory on RIPs, etiquette and forecasts.  Or even better come and join us for one of our events where we cover all of the above in-depth. If you can’t make one, we also have blogs and a YOUTUBE CHANNEL with many tutorials. 

Tip 8 – Surf at Lifeguarded beaches

If you’re worried about surfing solo and you don’t have any friends to surf with, head to a lifeguarded beach and ask them about the beach. They will 99.9% of the time have black and white flags out where they can keep an eye on you. 

What do you do to build your confidence? Tell us in the comments below 

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