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What is Surf Training? - Part 1

Paul Norris explains surf training should reflect an understanding of surf movements and how to perform them with correct joint positions and technique - Surfing.com

Surf training. What is that?

Is it sprinting up the beach and then paddling around the lifeguard tower? Or is it running underwater carrying a large rock? Could it be balancing on an Indo Board in front of the TV while eating a bowl of cereal?


Even though each one of these activities may provide some benefit to your surfing, I wouldn’t exactly define them as “surf training.” It’s not crazy to think this elusive term doesn’t make sense to most, which is fine. Surfing isn’t even considered a mainstream sport, unless you live close to the ocean. However, it just made the roster for the Tokyo Olympics, which will raise its exposure to the world this summer.

When I tell people I train surfers, they automatically think I’m some sort of a coach down at the beach yelling at my athletes with a whistle around my neck. Then I spend the next 15 minutes explaining that I own a gym and we focus on surf-specific training while the person across from me raises their eyebrows with suspicion. It happens ... it happens a lot.


So, let me explain to this fascinating world of exercising for the surf through this new series on Surfing.com. Surfing is a dynamic sport and thus requires a high skill set. Unfortunately, leaning over and grabbing down between your feet will have little carryover to what you might be doing in the water. Sure, it might look cool and fun, but mimicking surf movements doesn’t necessarily qualify as surf training.


Training for sport doesn’t exactly work that way. Please don’t think you’re going to get barreled because you’ve been practicing a bent over squat (pig dog) pose like you’re getting barreled in your bedroom all week. Balancing on stability equipment can make up one piece to the puzzle, but it certainly isn’t the end-all be-all to surf training.

As trainers, we look at the movement requirements and physical demands of surfing and then assess your strengths and weaknesses. From there we build a solid foundation to improve your athletic capabilities that will have a direct influence on your “surf skills” and thus carry over to the water.


Surf training should reflect a basic understanding of the movements we need to surf and how to perform them with correct joint positions and technique. Also, what are each person’s goals? Is it a professional surfer looking to win a world title or even qualify for the tour? Is it the avid surfer who just wants to make the most out of each session or is it the weekend warrior who just wants to stay injury-free?


Whatever the goal is, their training should be designed with a purpose in line with their goals because you can’t truly replicate what our bodies are required to do in the water, but you can strengthen the basic required movements and physical demands of surfing.




In the next part of this series, we’ll look at training for skill and what that involves. Until then, start thinking about your goals and prepare to exceed them.

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