Over the coming months I wanted to take the time to look over some of those surfing techniques which I always get asked on sessions.
Whether you’re a newcomer to surfing or an Intermediate who had one lesson, or maybe you’ve never had a lesson, self taught charger who has never looked back and is now trying to iron out some issues you may be having, I’m sure this will help.
I want to start with what some may call basic manoeuvres or ‘beginner stuff’… I would call it the bread and butter of surfing. This is what you need to really make a difference in your surfing. To kick things off we will start at the beginning, paddling.
You would be amazed at the amount of people who book onto our Intermediate sessions and want to spend a good portion of that time focused on paddling… Is that wrong? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
It’s such an important factor in your surfing repertoire and something you need to nail down and perfect in the early stages of your surfing life. So many people struggle with certain parts of their paddling which has a knock-on effect with the rest of their surfing.
So… what I thought I could do is break it down into what I think are the most important points to a correct and strong technique. This works both for your paddle out in the line up to your paddle into waves.
Let’s start with your body position on the board
There is a sweet spot and it does change on boards of different lengths and shapes. You can almost feel a drag when you’re too far back and you’ll be working doubly hard against the water if your too far forward (keeping that board under your chest will also feel difficult). The ideal place is keeping the board at a horizontal, parallel position under you, the flow is so much better and your speed will increase ten-fold.
What about your legs and feet?
A common thing I see in the water is the use of legs/feet to balance yourself when lying on the board… basically legs spread widely and toes/feet dragging the water behind you… wonder why your not going anywhere? Bring those legs together and create a nice line from hip to toe. This will also help balancing out along the stringer line of the board (middle line running through your board, imagine one if you don’t see one!). Its all about creating a nice flow.
So that’s the position on your board but we need to look at what your arms/hands are doing plus the most efficient way of catching the wave you want and not missing it!
Make sure you are relaxed
Most important thing about paddling is to stay relaxed through your paddle… yes, you need to keep that core engaged along the board to give you that feeling of sucking into the deck of the board but you need to keep that flow. For me its really important when you need the power that you drop your chest down on the board (and I don’t mean resting your cheek down!), this engages you even more and stops that hyper extension in your lower back (this also leaves less arm and hand in the water for paddling?!). Relax your shoulders and don’t tense up in your face! (great look, we all do this hahaha).
Smoothly does it!
When it comes to the stroke make sure you take long smooth strokes and you fully extend your arm and go deep with every stroke, pull back all the way to your thighs and try to keep them close to your surfboard for max power. Aggressive movements don’t help and short fast movements won’t get you where you want to be. WE DON’T WANT TO SEE A DOUBLE ARM BUTTERFLY PADDLE! This creates movement through the body, and you will most probably end up losing your board.
Time it well and choose your wave wisely
Now for the last and most important part of our little lesson, timing and wave choice.
You can have the best technique, right equipment and peak fitness but if you don’t go at the right time on the right wave this is all meaningless.
Position yourself as close as you can to the breaking wave and remember to paddle with intent, keep that chest low and put you paddle in early if you can. Sometimes the waves can be faster and steeper and if your are a bit deeper on the inside you can paddle less. Crumbly, slower waves may take you a bit more to get into. One key factor is not to stop too early as you will lose all that momentum you just built up, have a last look both ways and down the line… glide in…
Next up in our Technique Series is the Pop-up.