When I want to go for a surf, I’m usually absolutely frothing to get into the water by the time I get to the beach. Especially, if I had a busy, stressful day, I can’t wait to shake off the day and immerse myself in the beautiful ocean.
That’s exactly what I did the other day. It was a good size swell around 4ft in Bondi. I had a busy day, I was slightly grumpy and couldn’t wait to get in the water. I ran down to the beach, ‘forgot’ about the warm-up on the beach (well, I ran down, didn’t I? Surely counts as a warm up), paddled out and…got absolutely hammered. Not once but a few times I timed my duck-dive wrong and was sent for a few spins in the washing machine that is whitewash. Fun…Not. My wave selection was pretty poor too. Now one could say, it was just not my day or it was the waves, etc…however, I realised I was absolutely out of sync with the ocean. My thoughts were still half-way somewhere else, I still had this weird feeling of busyness sticking around me and it totally translated into my surfing.
Funny enough the first thing I usually tell gidgets when I’m teaching them to surf is to calm down and relax before they even put a foot in the water. A lot of beginner surfers get so excited but overwhelmed by the waves, weather, board, the whole trying to stand-up business and are all over the place which then sometimes makes them miss out on the beautiful experience of actually enjoying the water or even worse turns into unnecessary panic in the water.
So here are the tips I usually give beginner gidgets which helps them to slow down a bit and get with the flow:
- Before you get in: Watch the waves for a while and take a few deep breaths. A few easy stretches to warm up.
- Hop in the water and catch a few waves without your board to start with. Get used to the waves, the water temperature, feel the sand bottom. Feel what it’s like to be in the ocean.
- Then take the board and catch a few waves on the belly to get used to the conditions. Don’t worry about popping up for the moment. Just have enjoy the waves carrying you to the shore.
- Catch some waves in the whitewash and start to pop up but only when you feel it’s right, otherwise just keep enjoying your ride on the belly.
- And remember, breeeeeath and always take your time, there is no rush in catching a wave, there will be more…
Interestingly, I’ve been very good at telling beginner gidgets to calm down before the surf but not so good at walking the talk as you could probably tell from my experience above, so now when I get down to the beach, I try to:
- Just sit down on the beach and take five deep breaths before I get in
- Do a few Sun Salutes or some other basic stretches. I’m notoriously bad for not doing them, but I swear as I’m getting older, my body is increasingly cranky at me when I go in ‘cold’ and thanks me with lower back pain.
- Once out in the line-up, again take five deep breaths taking in the ocean breeze.
- Ready to roll aeh surf :-)
So I guess no matter if you are a beginner gidget or a more experienced gidget, a little bit of ‘zen’ before and during the surf goes a long way and will help you to get the most out of the surf session.