Feeling Frustrated In The Surf? Here’s How To Develop a Positive Surf Mindset

surf with amigas retreats

Surfing is an experience that tests both your patience and perseverance. Anyone who’s spent time on a board knows just how easily frustration can set in. Whether it’s the challenge of catching waves, navigating crowded lineups, or dealing with the ocean’s unpredictability, surfing can often feel like an uphill battle, no matter how many years of experience you have under your belt (or how many surf retreats you attend)!

Big wave surfer Bianca Valenti is a positive mindset champion. She encourages the acceptance of fear and discomfort in the water:

“This is exciting. This is scary. I don’t know if I can do it. I want to do it. I’m gonna try, who knows what’s gonna happen. Just choosing to really embrace your fear, sit with it and have a healthy relationship with it and see where it can take you [can be extremely impactful]. I’m always out there for the love of it, but also it feels good to get to that place of extreme discomfort because I think it’s empowering to be able to choose to face your fear. When you make the choice to go out there, that’s what you’re doing. You’re making a choice to go out and adventure, explore and see what you can unlock within yourself.”

That being said, here are a few tips we focus on at our women’s surf & yoga retreats to help Amigas develop a positive surf mindset and reframe their frustration:

Embrace the Learning Curve

One of the biggest sources of frustration in surfing is the steep learning curve. Unlike many other sports, where progress can be swift, surfing requires patience and persistence. Remember, every surfer was a beginner once. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, celebrate each small victory. Maybe today you paddled stronger, or you managed to pop up a bit quicker. Acknowledge these achievements and give yourself credit for the effort you’re putting in.

Set Realistic Expectations

It’s easy to get caught up in the highlight reels of professional surfers or influencers, but comparing yourself to them is a surefire way to feel inadequate. Set realistic, personal goals that are within your reach. Maybe it’s standing up on the board, riding a wave for five seconds, or even just feeling more comfortable in the water. When you achieve these goals, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that fuels your desire to keep improving.

 surf with amigas retreat

Focus on the Process, Not Just the Outcome

Surfing is as much about connecting with nature and mental renewal as it is about catching waves. Whether you’re  suiting up, paddling out or wiping out, challenge yourself to be present during your surf sessions. In addition, mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing and grounding exercises, can help you stay centered, reset your mind after difficult experiences, and ultimately become more appreciative of your time in the water.

Learn from Your Wipeouts

The ocean is a powerful teacher. Each wipeout, each missed wave, is an opportunity to learn. Instead of seeing mistakes as failures, view them as valuable lessons. Reflect on what happened and consider what you can do differently next time. This mindset shift from frustration to curiosity can transform your surfing experience, making each session a chance to grow and improve.

  womens surf retreat Costa Rica

Build a Supportive Community

Surfing can sometimes feel isolating, especially when you’re struggling. Surround yourself with a supportive community of fellow surfers who understand the ups and downs of the sport. Share your experiences, laugh about your wipeouts, and celebrate each other’s progress. Having a tribe can provide encouragement and remind you that you’re not alone in your journey.

Stay Physically and Mentally Fit

Surfing requires both physical and mental endurance. Regularly engaging in activities like yoga, swimming, or strength training can improve your performance in the water. Additionally, practices such as meditation can enhance your mental resilience, helping you to stay calm and focused even when things don’t go as planned.

Have Fun and Practice Gratitude

At the end of the day, surfing is supposed to be fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh at your mistakes, enjoy the camaraderie, and remember why you started surfing in the first place.  Remember that gratitude can also be a powerful antidote to frustration. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the ocean, the privilege of being able to surf, and the health and strength that allows you to be out there. When you’re having fun, the frustration naturally diminishes, leaving room for more joy and stoke.

Finally, remember that developing a positive surf mindset takes time, but it’s a worthwhile journey. The next time you feel frustrated in the surf, remember these tips and paddle out with a positive attitude and an open mind.

For more tips on mindset and mindfulness, check out The Surf with Amigas Collective, or Second Breakfast episode with Bianca Valenti!