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!



An Adaptive Surfing Champion’s Journey of Resilience

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Do you ever wonder how you’d react in a life-altering, potentially threatening situation?

I find that until we’re confronted with a risk to our bodily autonomy or basic functions, it’s easy to take our bodies for granted, and forget about the incredible feats that they help us accomplish on a daily basis. But when the body and mind are forced to adapt, it’s amazing how we can relearn and persevere through extremely difficult situations. This week on the Second Breakfast podcast we had a chance to chat with Victoria Feige, who shares her story of resilience and adaptation.

At age 18, Victoria’s life was changed forever after a snowboarding fall left her paralyzed her from the waist down. But she didn’t let her accident slow her down. Now a 5x world para surfing champion, Victoria has an incredible attitude and takes life by storm, even from a wheel chair. Play is her wheelhouse, and she’s relearned how to move through the world and remake her passions in a new body. Even while being airlifted to the hospital, she has always had a persistent focus and passion for life.

Here are some snippets of her story: 

“It’s kind of a crazy story. It sounds horrendous, but I’ve had a lot of fun along the way. So I grew up able-bodied, Canadian, skiing, snowboarding, telemarking. I’m a bit of a risk taker, and did a whole bunch of different sports. I have two older brothers, who are a bit rough and tumble.

When I was 18, I was snowboarding with a friend on spring break. I love to do big mountain riding, like, trees and shoots but I also love jumping in the park. That day I just sent it in the park at the end of the day, kind of showing off for a photo. And I overshot it, got about 15 feet of air and landed badly. So I have a compression fracture of my L1 vertebrae, which means that I’m essentially I was paralyzed from the waist down.

Then [I had] surgery and then really it’s three months at least of rehab in the hospital, learning how to navigate an environment and a body that you’re not that familiar with.

You have to kind of relearn how to move through the world. But I used whatever skills and resources I had to get me where I wanted to go. So I just transferred my skateboarding skills to wheelchair skills, including the ability to see terrain and perform an ollie. I used to rock climb a little bit, so you can find little handholds in an airplane or a subway station if the elevator breaks. You can find ways to navigate the environment.

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Headshot taken by Nigel Wallace Media

yes, I have a disability. Yes, I’m a wheelchair user on land. But One of the things I love about surfing is that if I catch a great wave in the water, have a good takeoff and a sick turn, I did that. there’s no tokenism. There’s no special treatment.

My level of function is like far beyond what they could have expected but I also was kind of a high energy, high achiever before I got injured. Those are the elements that make you who you are. That element of pushing the boundaries is without a doubt why I got injured, but it’s pushing the boundaries and trying to get more is also what made me do so well after my injury. 

There’s so much you can do after spinal cord injury. There’s so much that you can achieve and explore and there’s so much life left to live. And yeah, it might look a little different, but the important things of who you are, your friends and family and the things that define you don’t have to change. Unless you want them to change, but itdoesn’t have to determine your whole life.”

To learn more about Victoria and her inspiring story, listen on the Second Breakfast podcast.

3 Steps to Choosing a Longboard Fin

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Start Here: Before picking your fin, ask yourself, how do I want to be surfing?

Nailing down your surfing goals is the first step in choosing the right fin, which will ultimately help you be most successful in the type of surfing that YOU want to do. For example, if your goal is to noseride, you’ll generally want a more upright fin, like a Pivot fin.

How do I choose the right type of fin?

The answer to this question again depends on your answer to the first question listed above! Here are the three most common types of longboard fins, and a bit about the types of surfing they support.

Pivot Fin: This fin is ideal for those looking to practice cross stepping or hankering for some more toes on the nose time. With a sizeable base and plenty of length, pivot fins also allow for more responsive turns.

D Fin: The D-fin is an older fin style ideal for those looking for an old-school feel or riding bigger boards. If you are surfing long point breaks like Malibu and want total control, this could be the fin for you. The large surface area of this fin helps with drive down the line to practice a noseride, but also makes it more difficult to turn.

Flex Fin: The flex fin, created by George Greenough in the 1960’s and inspired by a tuna fish fin, is great for performance logs, bigger turns in the pocket, and for those who are interested in pushing their limits in bigger waves. Flex fins typically have more “rake,” which refers to how far the front edge of the fin arcs backwards. More rake is designed for more drawn out turns. These fins are also great for midlengths!

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How do I choose the right sized fin?

As a general rule of thumb, you can take the length of your longboard and use that to size your fin. For example, if you have a 9’6″ log, try starting with a 9.5″ to 10″ fin. 

PRO tip: Depending on your size and the board’s, you can play around with trying a slightly bigger/smaller fin (try starting with 0.5″ differences). A smaller person usually can more easily turn a smaller fin.

Where do I place my fin in the fin box: further forward, centered, or back?

There’s no hard and fast answer to this question. Our general recommendation is to learn by doing, play around with it, change the placement for a session or two and see how it feels. Fin placement within the fin box can alter the sensation you’ll feel when riding a wave.

When placing the fin further back, the board has a very stiff feel. It will give you lots of hold in big waves but make it harder to turn. This also creates more balance for noseriding.

When placing the fin further forward, what you gain in maneuverability you lose in stability. This placement moves the pivot point forward, making the board turn more easily but with a very loose feel.

Remember there is no one-size fits all when it comes to fins! Try different setups in varying conditions to find out what works best for YOU.

For more info about fins and placement, 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. 

4 Ways to Prepare For Your Next Retreat: With The SWA Collective

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We are so incredibly stoked to finally introduce a long-time project, The Surf With Amigas Collective. The Collective is everything you love about Surf With Amigas retreats, made more accessible. With this new platform, we aim to create entertaining yet informative content and tutorials designed to empower and educate women, in surfing and in life. We’re also striving to highlight the personal stories and adventures of members within our surfing community, allowing us to connect more deeply and spread stoke while also showcasing the raw and real female surf experience.

Whether you’re just starting your surf journey, want to get in surf shape, or are ready to unleash your inner surf nerd and learn more, the Collective is a great place to start. Here are 5 sets of videos we recommend watching for those who are newer to surfing and looking to prep for their next surf trip or SWA retreat:

1. Being Kind to Yourself and Other Tips for First Timers

We know surfing is hard! That’s why here at the collective, we’re there for you every step of the way. Surfing, like life, is full of crests and troughs, ups and downs. It’s easy to put lots of pressure on ourselves to perform, especially when we only have one week of surf vacation time. Xiquiu has been a surf instructor at Surf With Amigas for years. This video is an excerpt from her beginner lesson where she talks about the best mindset to have when starting out in surfing, as well as a few other helpful tips to set you up for success.

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2. Foundations Popup

The popup is one of the most important aspects of having a successful ride down the line. Even if you feel confident with your popup, it’s always good to practice and keep your muscle memory engaged (especially if you aren’t surfing often!). In addition to watching this video, try filming your pop up and see if you can catch any quirks. Having a strong base of surfing skills is critical in helping create good habits and fuels the froth to keep progressing!

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3. Beginner Workout & 4 Best Stretches for Surfers

Like our head yoga instructor Reesie says, motion is lotion. You’re bound to be moving and grooving A LOT on your next surf trip, so let your body ease into it by incorporating these stretches and workouts into your routine! These stretches and workouts are made for surfers, by surfers, and so target key muscles that you’ll be using in the water.

4. Meet Your Instructors

Finally, just in case you haven’t yet experienced the epic bad-assery of our team first-hand, let us clue you in. We have an absolutely amazing team of surf instructors. They’re funny, knowledgeable, utterly rad women and we want you to get to know them! Learn about their personal surf journeys, struggles and life philosophies before starting your next retreat or online course. 

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Use These 3 Techniques to Catch More Waves In a Crowded Lineup

From Morocco to Malibu and beyond, you’re bound to find crowds of surfers dotting the coast. Of course, most of us dream of corduroy lines that expand across our favorite break without another soul in sight. But the impending reality is: as more humans discover the incredible experience of wiggling their bodies across waves and technology’s mighty roots sink deeply into even the most remote corners of the world, uncrowded lineups become more obsolete.

In this post we’re unpacking the top 3 techniques you can use to more effectively navigate those busy lineups, maximize your wave count, lose the stress and have more fun!

1. know before you go

Take a bit of time on the beach to survey the lineup before you paddle out. Drink your coffee and take note of the dynamics and types of surfers out there. Ask yourself, where are the shredders sitting? Is there anyone who looks like they’re still learning to surf? Choose a place to sit in the lineup where you can optimize your wave catching ability while remaining safe and within your limits. If you have doubts regarding the conditions or feel high anxiety or unsafe entering the water, know your limits. Don’t go out, or wait for a friend or instructor to paddle out with.

how to catch more waves in a crowded lineup

2. Sit wide or on the inside

In a crowded lineup, it’s all about finding those open “holes” in the lineup where no one is sitting. Just because lots of people are sitting in one area doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best place for you. Sometimes sitting wide or on the inside allows you to pick off some cute ones, or even catch a party wave (remember that the person with priority calls a party wave)! Even if the waves may not be as consistent in areas away from the crowd, you have a higher chance of grabbing a few to yourself. Finally, always keep your head on a swivel and be ready to turn and burn in case someone else falls off a wave, or ends up going straight in the whitewash. 

3. Play it safe – be ready to abort mission 

If you feel a collision is imminent, you see someone quickly moving down the line or a massive crowd in front of you, be ready to abort mission and try for another wave when the next set comes. How do you abort mission safely? Lean and/or move back on your board and dig your legs in the water. This will lift the nose of your board out of the water and essentially put the brakes on. If you’re already moving too quickly to try this maneuver, straighten your board out and take the wave in the whitewash instead of navigating the crowd. Avoid locking eyes with someone in front of you while riding a wave — or you’ll likely go in their direction. On the other hand, if you’re paddling out and think a surfer is going to run into you, just turtle roll. Dinged boards are better than dinged bodies.

Finally, remember that surfing, especially in crowds, is a constant learning process. Give yourself some grace when you run into difficult situations and don’t let a bad interaction ruin your session. If you find yourself getting frustrated, go to the beach and reset or try to find a place in the lineup to sit by yourself for a moment. Take a breath and give it another try!

3 Surf Etiquette Tips That Every Surfer Should Know

What’s the key to keeping our lineups safe and fun?

Knowing and practicing surf etiquette! Familiarizing yourself with these unwritten rules of surfing will empower you to catch more waves, surf safely, and feel confident with other surfers in the lineup. Here are 3 easy-to-remember surf etiquette tips that every surfer should know.

Tip #1: Get to know your surf level

Whether you’re brand new to surfing, or already have some experience, it’s essential to find a surf spot that suits your skill level. Surfing at a break that’s right for you is the best way to avoid unwanted surf incidents- whether that means avoiding crowded lineups, difficult waves, sharp reef, etc. 

It’s certainly courageous (and can be exhilarating) to push outside of your comfort zone and surf difficult waves! However, you should only really try to push these limits once you’re completely confident that you can control your surfboard and maneuver around other surfers or obstacles in the lineup. 

So what’s the best way to find a surf break that’s right for your level?

One recommendation is to talk with experienced surfers in your area. If you’re at your local beach and wondering if the break or conditions are appropriate for your level, scope out an experienced surfer who’s close by and just start chatting! Chances are, they’ll be willing to point you in the right direction. If you’re at the water’s edge trying to decide if you’ve chosen the right spot, check out the other surfers in the water. Do you see anyone riding a similar surfboard? Do you see anyone at a similar level?  

Tip #2: Practice reading the “lineup”

Continue reading “3 Surf Etiquette Tips That Every Surfer Should Know”