Boost Your Surf Confidence With These 4 Practices

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It’s normal to have pre-surf jitters, especially when the conditions may be challenging or you’ve been out of the water for a while. Boost your confidence and prepare yourself for your next big session or surf trip with these 4 tips!

try static breath holds

Recognize what happens to you, mentally and physically, when you hold your breath. Static breath holds can be performed underwater or on land in a place where you can sit calmly and relax. Be sure to do this with a buddy, and in a safe environment! By practicing breath holds, you are inviting your body to adapt in difficult or uncomfortable situations. Wiping out can be scary, and breath holding gives you the opportunity to manage how your body and mind respond to stress. This knowledge is power for the next time you experience a hold down underwater.

Learn to quiet your mind

Our minds can be our biggest obstacle or asset in the water. Surfing is a sport that demands both physical and mental endurance. Incorporating mindfulness techniques such as breath work and other relaxation/meditation exercises can help calm pre-surf jitters and facilitate composure in the water. By learning to recognize and accept your fears, manage stress, and maintain a relaxed state, you can approach each wave with greater confidence and clarity.

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Practice visualization techniques

Visualization practices will help you dive more deeply into the mental aspects of surfing, and help boost confidence! When you have a spare few minutes in your day, try having a mental surf session! Imagine yourself riding the perfect wave, feeling the rush of adrenaline, and executing flawless maneuvers, or whatever your personal surf goal may be. Through visualization, you can build your mind-body connection, anticipate challenges, and take steps to honing your skills in the water.

Practice well-rounded training

Surfing is a full body sport, and it’s easy to lose surf and paddle endurance if you don’t have the opportunity to jump in the water frequently (as is often the unfortunate reality in our busy lives!) Practice building your strength and flexibility, in and out of the water. Cross-training will not only boost your readiness for that next session but will also bolster your health and longevity! Not to mention, by diversifying your physical activities you’ll reduce the risk of burnout or sport-specific injuries. Think of it as an  incentive to try something different while immersing yourself in a new community.

For more surf techniques and mindful practices, check out the Surf with Amigas Collective!



4 Tips For Managing Fear While Surfing

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At some point in our surf journeys, we are bound to find ourselves stuck in a place we’d rather not be, or at the very least in an unexpected situation in the water. Many different emotions can come up while we’re surfing, but there usually tends to be one common denominator: fear. Whether it boils down to a fear of lack of control, of injury or embarrassment, that nagging, anxiety-inducing feeling in the pit of your stomach is universal in surfing. Feelings of fear are our brain’s way of trying to keep our bodies safe. Here are four tips you can use to help overcome your fear in the water:

1. Acknowledge your fear

The more you can acknowledge that your fear exists, the more likely you can begin to take the needed steps to overcome that fear. Trying to understand exactly where your fear comes from is the first step in processing it. Use that understanding to slowly enlarge your comfort zone. You can do this by taking baby steps of expansion while keeping yourself safely challenged. Whether it is surfing a slightly more difficult break, or trying different maneuvers in the water, give it a go. Using this technique, our amiga Brooke says,

“I recognized that my desire to overcome the fear became stronger than the fear at some point.”

2. Surf with a buddy, or instructor!

Fear can feel like a much more manageable emotion when you have someone to share it with. A little bit of extra encouragement from a friend, especially from someone who may have a bit more experience in the water, can go a long way. If you see your buddy isn’t afraid, often that gives you the permission to let go of your fear. Not to mention, a simple shared look of solidarity before plunging headfirst into a duck dive can do wonders for the nerves.

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3. Practice breathing techniques in the water

As our amiga Brooke explains in her Second Breakfast episode, as soon as we start to hold our breath, the body goes into fight or flight mode. While we’re stressed or anxious, there’s usually an element of breath holding that comes along with that. Especially while we’re laying on our bellies paddling, breathing can easily become constricted. Try focusing on inhaling and exhaling while you’re paddling for a wave. While doing this, you can challenge your own perceptions of fear. Remind yourself that even if you get tumbled around, you’re going to come up, you’re going to be okay. Consider breathing exercises to be an intervention for your anxiety. 

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“Drawing your attention towards your breath can help get you out of a fear state and more into flow state.”

4. Practice positive mantras in the water

Often what holds us back the most in the water is our perceived perception of ourselves and what we are capable of. The brain creates strong neural pathways that dictate these perceptions. The more we believe them and use certain pathways, the more engrained they become. Studies have shown that bilateral movement (like paddling while surfing!) offers an opportunity to create new pathways. The next time you’re paddling out into the lineup, try repeating a positive mantra to yourself. Rather than telling yourself “I suck, I don’t have the skill level to surf this wave,” or “I’m scared I’ll fall and everyone is watching,” try flipping the switch. “My body is strong and capable, and I am doing the best that I can.”

For more surf stories, tips and techniques for managing your emotions in water, check out Brooke’s episode on Second Breakast (the Surf With Amigas podcast).

For some, even the thought of a particular surf destination or break can make the palms break out in a sweat. Are you ready to send it and step out of your comfort zone? Are you an intermediate to advanced surfer and willing to push your limits? Check out our new retreat location, Sumatra!

This February, Holly will be leading a live fear workshop on the Surf With Amigas Collective. We will be taking a deep dive into facing and embracing our fears. Checkout The Collective and subscribe to our newsletter for more information.