I surf everyday, rain or shine … waves or not, I paddle out for at least thirty minutes. I consider this my daily commune with mother ocean. No on taught me this, and no one has to tell me to keep doing it. This morning, I got into thinking about how many people – the same exact people – are out here with me every morning as well. How did we get to this point, and what led us here?
And so, after many cold mornings and conversations over dozens of cups of coffee after surfing, here are the steps to becoming a surfer as seen from people who live it on a daily basis … rain or shine!
There is no Magic Method or Secret Formula
There is no substitute for good, honest, and hard work – and being successful in surfing means you must learn to accept that there is no “magic method” that can make you the next big surf star or the king of the break! It just takes consistent practice, a healthy approach to your surf sessions, and a disciplined agenda to the areas you want to improve on. NO SHORTCUTS!
Unfortunately, some surfers have not learned to leave that instant gratification attitude at home while they surf, and often set themselves up for disappointment as their expectations soar past what their bodies and skills can deliver. If there were a secret formula to becoming a super surfer, then the surf world would be abundantly easy and effort free! Surfers have put a lot of effort into achieving success, and they understand that in order to achieve success in any area of life, one needs to put one foot in front of the other consistently as they move towards any given goal.
Surfing is Never ‘Finished‘ or ‘Done‘
I was chatting with a new surfer out in the water and she asked me flat out as to how long it will take to get the hang of surfing. I didn’t quite know truly how long such a complex sport would take to master, let alone just to get the hang of … so I politely told her that it may take anywhere from 2 to 5 years, on the optimistic side. Her response and following facial expression was almost of complete disbelief as she wondered if I was pulling her leg. Yep! It takes that long to get into a good groove in surfing, and even then its a constant learning curve each time you paddle out into the ocean. Surfing doesn’t ever really get resolved. It is a never ending work in progress as your move through the subtle intricacies of each wave and each break.
It Really is About the Journey
Although some may argue that the end result is being a good or great surfer, it’s the process of developing that skill set that often builds your character and provides the most learning opportunities. Look back on something significant you have achieved and examine where the most strife and lessons were gotten from … would you really swap them so you could have fast forwarded to the result? However difficult or exhausting the process may be, understand that it will determine who you will become, and the type of character you will develop both as a person and as a surfer.
What’s the hurry about anyway?
As people and technology speed to a dizzying pace, we all seem to get used to “quick fixes”. Somehow, a lot of people have grown accustomed to believing that if something isn’t achieved quickly, that it’s not worth achieving, or perhaps it is taking too long. Much like life, a surfer’s quest is not a race to the end. We don’t get an extra turn or a skill level for the speed at which we travel through the waves! Whenever you feel like your surfing is not as progressive as it should be, or if you think you should be a much better surfer than you currently are, try and take a step back and remind myself about what it is you actually enjoy about surfing and being out in the ocean … about what you are doing in the present, and that building anything truly worthwhile and exceptional takes time!
Nothing replaces hard work
Yes, see the point above. Anything worthwhile does take time. We all need to learn to develop the skills of being persistent, and keeping the bigger picture in mind. I think this is why people sometimes quit surfing or get frustrated during the learning process. What they are forgetting is that the hard work, over time, translates into solid skills and patterns. All the paddling and the falling off the board will blossom into a wicked-bad bottom turn or drop knee turn one of these days …
You can’t be taught PASSION
This point is a given: it is for you, and you alone, to find your passion. No one can teach anyone how to find or have passion. Others may be able to help us find our passion, and some may also be able to share their experiences in a way that can help us find our own passion … but passion is fundamentally different for each and every individual. True, someone can introduce yo to surfing. Yes, someone can call you every waking morning and invite you to surf, BUT the passion to pursue surfing … to chase it down like a marble rolling down a hill is something that only you can awaken within yourself! Surfing passion is a very unique concoction of your very own inner voices, secret desires, life experiences, and individual skills and talents. If surfing is your passion, then the early morning calls will be coming from you.
There are a lot of good surfers and coaches already at your disposal, in the form of friends and mentors. So by all means, enlist the help of good mentors and learn from others who are further along the surfer’s path. As you learn and progress from many advice and tips … and there will be plenty … remember that we as surfers all have a unique path and preference, as well as comfort levels. It is your job, and once again your job alone, to work out how to bring your skills and your path to the foreground of your surfing. Sometimes the reason we look to others for the answer to ‘success’ is because we don’t trust ourselves. We don’t trust ourselves to do our own thing, to take a risk and to shine. We need to learn to trust ourselves. Start today, as the ocean welcomes you into her arms and you paddle into the line up, listen to what your intuition is saying and start doing what feels right for you … and only you.