A couple of options you might not yet have considered to jump-start your surfing.
Nail a rock jump
Some launch spots are just so much more gnarly than others, and often when there is a safer option, most of us choose it. We choose to jump off at the beach and paddle up the point instead of jumping off the top. Nailing a rock jump however, is a massive part of your progress as a surfer and a huge leap in self-confidence. The best way to do it is to watch a local. Clock in on the exact final rock that he or she jumps from. Get onto that rock. Steady your nerves. Watch the sets. Keep your head around the timing of the sets. When you think you have it, launch with confidence. If you hesitate you could be bouncing all the way down the point, and at a place like JBay, that could end terribly. Nail it on a big day, get into deep water with fins intact, and you’re suddenly a real surfer.
Get to grips with volume
It’s a fairly new concept, that of your board being measured in liters, but it’s a great concept to help you along your way to achieve competency and more. Simply put, if you push a board under water, the board’s volume is the amount of water it will displace. The more water is displaced, the greater the volume. Your volume is tied in to your body weight, your fitness and your skill level. Find out what volume suits you by asking a shaper, and checking your friend’s boards out. Too little volume and you’re not catching waves. Too much volume and you’re not sinking rails.
Teach someone to stand
It’s a long and arduous mission, but nothing can be as rewarding and enlightening as teaching someone how to stand for the first time. It’ll show you how hard it actually is, and it’ll also show you how far you’ve come on the road to being a better surfer. You’ll need to impart knowledge of wave dynamics, of paddling technique, of the pop-up, all which play vital parts in the process of becoming a better surfer. You can always improve your water knowledge and refine your technique, and teaching it to someone else is a great way of initiating this.
Skate a board
Doesn’t matter how old you are or how foreign the concept might feel, but getting on a skateboard is a great way to keep the progress moving. Skating teaches you flow, and you can also learn a lot about trimming on a skateboard as it is the only way to get maximum distance and cruise time. We’re talking about a street skateboard or longboard, and not the act of dropping down half pipes, because that’s dangerous.
Get someone to film you every now and again, and force yourself to watch it. Even if it is just some shaky footage from an iPhone, you’ll soon recognise your style and nuances, and it’ll probably bum you out. The thing is though, if you pick up on one small thing from watching yourself surf that you can improve on, then you’re winning. Maybe it’s bending a knee slightly more, or maybe it’s dropping an arm just a little, but small touches can make a world of difference.
Use your imagination
The best surfers in the world are people with massive and vivid imaginations. It’s the only way to dream up those turns that they are attempting, and pulling off successfully. Imagination is also a way of positive affirmation. If you imagine yourself pulling off successful moves, then the chances are higher that you will pull them off next time you attempt. Even if it’s just imagining yourself making a big drop before paddling out on a solid day, or if it’s imagining yourself getting barreled, it’ll make you that much more confident.
Get a wingman
It’s always good to surf with a buddy, and it’s even better if he has a bit of a wild eye in him when it gets bigger. If you surf with someone who is going to push you, chances are you’ll be up for the challenge and will take it on as best you can. It’ll be almost impossible to not paddle out on a serious day if your buddy is going to paddle out regardless, and leave you hanging in the car park. Go and find yourself a surf buddy who is not scared to give it a go, and you can both push each other.