The Five Bad Habits of the Layman Surfer

There's a reason why those fins don't release and those sections don't magically connect. 

Jordy Smith surfs the crest of a wave as it breaks behind him in Peniche, Portugal
© Hugo Silva

1. Your stance is wrong
Watch a good surfer and you'll find a deftness of movement in the feet, a telegraphing of what's about to come next. Racing down the line to launch, the front foot moves forward, the crouch becomes deeper, the back foot seems to twitch on the tailpad. During a finner, the front foot slides so far forward the toes can almost grip around the nose. Now let's zoom in on the average surfer, the you and the me. The back foot is just a little off, the front foot neither forward nor back. We fight the natural rocker, the inclination of our boards. And so our airs are thrown away, our finners don't exist and we miss sections that could've transformed an average ride into something magical.

2. Your relationship with the high-performance surfboard
All those six-twos we see underfoot of the best surfers are designed for one thing: to be surfed radically. You can't coast on a surfboard with a continuous rocker. You can't surf out on the face of the wave. Watch a great surfer like Jordy Smith and he won't ever race beyond the pocket. Those chopping cutbacks and top turns are performed in parts of the wave most of us think are too heavy to hit. The great Tom Curren was taught to never look beyond a metre on the wave.

3. You've mastered the takeoff
So why are you pausing at the apex of the wave? It's a bad habit that delays your entry into the wave and washes off most of that paddle speed.

4. We believe in the magical properties of athletes
Beyond a certain level of ability, anything is possible. If a 12-year-old with two years in the ocean can regularly ride out of reverses or make backside barrels, so can you. There is nothing magical about a surfer who is paid to surf. He started young, he tried hard, he was probably mentored. This isn't coincidence -- it's the furthest thing from. Even an average surfer can up his trick quotient. But you have to try, you really have to try. And believe in yourself, not in magic.

5. You will repeat these mistakes, unless...
Unless you can recognise what you're doing wrong, you're going to repeat them until your dying breath. Fun? Not so much./