It’s a mental and physical thing

Surfing is even almost graceful when you fail

Surfing is even almost graceful when you fail

Wipe-outs. We all have them. At any stage in your journey, you might have them on every single wave. I don’t mind wipe-outs. (They’re just a good opportunity to go for a dip in the ocean.) Since my surf lesson last week, I’ve been forcing myself to ‘get over it’ (the fear) and paddle out the back every time I surf. If the waves are big, and I get a little freaked, I can always come in. But my new goal is to always go straight out the back. (Unless surf is 6ft+ because that would just be stupidity.)

It’s not really much of a goal to have; “just paddling out”, but it’s helping to push myself and maybe trying for waves I would normally go ‘nooooo’ at. Of course, I still have those moments. When I’m lifted up by a steep face, I suddenly decide ‘nope, not the wave for me’, so I pull back. (There are no other surfers on that wave either so I’m not peeving people off by wasting my turns.)

So going out the back is the mental part of surfing I’m working at currently. The physical part is the backhand. I’m more stable with it now (practice makes perfect) but as soon as I drop that back hand, I fall.

Going left, trying to turn with pressure from my toes and about to use my shoulders.

Going left, trying to turn with pressure from my toes and about to use my shoulders.

Needed to compress a little more, but I'm looking, using my shoulders...

Needed to compress a little more, but I’m looking, using my shoulders…

Notice that my back hand has dropped down, I start to lose my balance and all over red rover.

Notice that my back hand has dropped down, I start to lose my balance and all over red rover.

So I really need to focus on keeping up that back hand. I don’t even know why I put it down. It’s amazing that once you start getting into the finer aspects of a sport, you really notice how much of your body you don’t seem to have control over at times…Eerie…

Here I've compressed more and I'm keeping my arm up (though needs to be level with my shoulder) and I'm able to do a much better backhand bottom turn on an unbroken face.

Here I’ve compressed more and I’m keeping my arm up (though my elbow needs to be level with my shoulder) and I’m able to do a much better backhand bottom turn on an unbroken face.

So to recap:

My mental goal of the month is to always paddle out the back. No more white-water dallying unless surf is too big.

My physical goal of the month is to focus on my arms. I’ll have much better rides if my arm doesn’t point to the water (where I point is where I’ll end up).

I hope your surfing or your sports are challenging you!

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3 thoughts on “It’s a mental and physical thing

  1. Great post and this really struck a chord with me. I came back from my last trip feeling like I have plateau’d a bit. It sounds awful to say but I feel like its almost too easy to get to my feet now and as I’m not challenging or pushing myself, its a bit less enjoyable. I like the idea of a physical and a mental goal and like you, I need to push through my fear of trying to get out the back and of wiping out in general. My physical goal is to be able to pop up properly. I still go to my knees and although I have speeded it up, its not going to do me any favours if I get to the point of going for bigger waves. I have started on a strength training programme at the gym to improve my upper body strength which sucks at the moment and something I wasn’t able to do earlier this year because of the shoulder injury.

    Keep up the good work! I love reading your blog posts and keen to keep up with your progress! 🙂

    • I started on my knees too. It took a lot of practice to stop doing it because it became muscle memory! I stuck a piece of tape down on the carpet, and did pop-up after pop-up. Then when you go in the water, you’ll still get to your knees hahaha. I like the idea of making that your goal. Maybe make sure you get over that habit before you push yourself by going out the back because you’ve got to snap up. If you use the knees you’re most likely not going to be up until it breaks anyway. Strength training is definitely your friend! Your swimming would be helping majorly! My upper body strength was atrocious. I still can’t weight bear on my left hand. I have a huge cyst that impedes on my tendons so I have perpetual muscle weakness in the left (and pins and needles and numbness all the way to my badly-set broken shoulder). I completely understand the way our bodies get in the way! Keep with the surfing; it will definitely help. Maybe for your mental goal, you could relax more when you wipeout? I know it’s a bit of an oxymoron but it’s not so bad if you “enjoy” the washing machine hehe.

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