Understanding your surfing movements and muscle groups that drive those movements is truly the key to improvements in surfing performance.
For a surfing movement to be enhanced it first needs to be trained, of course repetitive surfing movements out at sea at your local break can be done, but there will always be factors that often restrict progression.
A poor day of waves, inconsistent swell patterns, lack of time, if we all had no other commitments other than to surf, or we had perfect waves every day we would all I'm sure be better surfers.
Improvements in your dynamic surfing movements can be gained from improving muscle coordination and balance.
Learning to surf can be highly frustrating, but once you've caught your first wave you're hooked! Balance plays a key role in the development of surfing performance and enjoyment, there are many factors to take into account while developing sports balance and once you understand and develop these factors development can take place at a faster pace
As a surfer progresses with their general surfing movements the more demands are placed on their general movements, with surfing at any level there is always a new challenge to face, a new movement and sharper movement, for any surfer wishing to improve their surfing movements it is important to understand the dynamics of sporting movements, this then can open up greater understanding of how it is possible to train theses movements for greater performance.
Natural surfing talent and progression is often born from simply learning to surf at a very young age, spending time and living near the coast also plays a key role in high levels of surfing performance, it is true that between the young ages of 1-11 years old the human body's ability to learn a new skill like surfing is ripe and ready for the taking this would also apply to any sport as the young body develops its neuromuscular pathways.
The speed at which a surfer develops their dynamic movements may also be governed by muscle type, slow twitch muscle fibres and fast twitch fibres have very different contractile and metabolic characteristics, it is known that movement and quickness depends on which of the two an athlete is born with.
The example is a sprinter will have a high percentage of fast twitch fibres while a distance runners muscles will contain a higher percentage of slow twitch fibres, could this be a factor in young surfing development?
So can movement quickness be determined by the internal characteristics of the nervous system, surfers whose nervous system has a low strength threshold could have a lower level of quickness?
Movements for surfing quickness and performance can be trained, it is possible to train these key surfing elements and any age, however the longer a surfer is left in their natural state of development the harder it will be, so as the saying goes you can't teach an old dog new tricks is then somewhat very true!
Balance and stabilisation training can simply be thought of as a position or series of positions that occur during surfing movement and that are maintained when opposing forces equalise one another so that little or no movement occurs at the stabilised joint. When applied to movement, this means that muscles on both sides of the joint contribute to stabilising via a co-contraction of agonist and antagonistic muscles.
Balance: Movement built upon this function represents an ability to stabilise and maintain a desired body position. Balance can be thought of as a correct or effective positioning of a body part or the entire body. This can be clearly seen during many surfing movements.
If you need any equipment for the following exercises, check fit2surf.com
It is possible to improve your surfing dynamics, coordination and balance by training on the land.
An example to improve leg movements and coordination could be a basic jump and stick.
Start the exercise in a basic press up position, then explode forwards at speed with both legs, then sticking in that spot and holding that position before repeating, in this way you can train your body to be more explosive. It is possible to build and develop speed, coordination and balance.
Even a basic jump and squat can build strength in this area.
Start the exercise in the press up position, then bring both feet forwards at speed, tucking your knees upwards, from here jump up vertically then repeat, do the exercise 10 times then rest.
Coordinated movements in surfing are highly desirable, there are many diverse movements in surfing to learn which can sometimes take years, repeating surfing movements in a land based program and adding resistance like free weights or medicine balls can make a great difference to that movement.
An example could be a round house cut back, a demanding movement but with the right training and exercise can be improved and sharpened.
Pauline Ado shows how to cut back. ASP /Roxy Gold Coast Pro
Balance squat and throw over
Start the move in a squat position then in the same way that you would start a cut back extend upwards bringing the ball over your shoulder to mimic a multi directional movement, then repeat, do this on both sides of the body.
During a round house there are many demands on the body's ability to balance, and core strength can be tested to the max the sharper the movement gets.
Seated medicine ball throws
A cutback can also be improved by seated medicine ball throw over. For this exercise you can use a partner to throw the ball to however it's not necessary, start with your feet together and the ball in both hands, with the ball resting on the floor just alongside your hips, then moving quickly throw the ball to a partner, they will then throw back to you so you may repeat the exercise, 10 times on one side and ten times on the other before resting.
Article by Lee Stanbury, Surfing-Waves.com resident surf fitness guru, author of the Complete Guide to Surf Fitness. Lee has worked with top surf athletes Ben Skinner and Oli Adams, and developed fitness coaching with the U18 British surf team.
Check out Lee's surf fitness website at fit2surf.com.