The water has been so crowded and dangerous here in Sydney Australia. A completely new element of surfer in the line-up, with no idea of safety protocols. People who just sit facing each other chatting, like a line of drawbridges and block take-off zones. Spots such as reefs, that are somewhat tricky/dangerous to surf, have been super crowded because they have an easy paddle out. I used to surf one reef break and pre camera it would have 3-6 people on good days, post camera installation 20 odd, post Covid 50-70!
Slim’s note: Here in Bali we also have a “new element of surfer” who also mostly has no idea of surf protocols.
I am getting older and slower, but because of a life of fitness and over 55 years of surfing experience, I can still out-surf, or hold my own, against the new beginner/superhero breed on most days. However, the respect and etiquette has been lost, the new Covid surfer thinks nothing of paddling up right next to you and on your inside, expecting the right of way. Frustrating, but I switched back to my old Kirra Surfriders mode, last time I surfed said reef, and paddled in the best/correct take off position to claim one of the best waves. I ignored the screams from the person who had paddled up my inside, as they could not traverse the crease (that gave me the sling in) and had I had a cracker. If I had not done so, the wave would have been wasted, but I had one of the best waves I’ve ridden in a while. I thought my fighting days were over… but who knows!
Well, this is meant to be a fitness section, not just a surf section, however, the above is leading me into required protocols for the new era. The new breed has brought with it a mass of easy paddling craft, more Mals, Hybrids, Mid-Lengths and high volume boards. My ‘Gentleman’s Length’ (think older man’s short board) quiver has had to be revised. My 7’/7’2” usuals are now 7’4”/7’6” I have gone to more forward volume, but still ‘pointy’ noses, so they’re not mid length style, but good paddlers and surf great.
So, how does this bring us to fitness? Well, unless we are going to all go out and buy 8.5/9/10/11/12’ Malibus or SUPs/Skis, we need to be able to compete.
How are we going to enhance our ability to compete?
Let’s have a look at the definition of fitness out there on the web.
Healthy, Robust, Strength, Hardiness, Sturdiness, Vigour, Lustiness, ability, proficiency, competence, capability, potential, capacity, survival, suitability survivability, ability, are some of the Synonyms.
The condition of being physically fit, mentally fit and healthy.
The quality of being suitable to fulfil a particular role or task.
Physically ‘fit’, needs to be considered as a partner to mentally ‘fit’. So rather than just focus on exercises in a gym, let us approach this latest article Holistically with regards to increasing fitness.
Have you been following the great Dave Prodan episodes starring Mick Fanning and Ross Williams?
A recent episode asked the question about isolation and whether the Australians had an advantage over the Touring Pros in the upcoming Aussie legs of WSL.
Mick said he did not think it would be a disadvantage to the Touring Pros, especially as they had their workout routines to rely on in Isolation.
I totally disagree (sorry Mick!). Whilst there is no one blanket outcome as everyone will react differently. We all know NO surfing for two weeks affects us to some degree.
Mick also said that he thought the rest would do them good.
I disagree somewhat once again, what happens (or should happen) leading up to any sporting event at higher levels there is a ‘Taper’ included in the programming.
The Taper is a calculated gradual downshift of training, so that the Athlete is ‘fresh’ for the Event. Done correctly the Athlete should go to the event with ‘reserves’ and not depleted energy stores. If we look at the (not too long ago) Aussie Swimmers who broke World Records 6 months Prior to Rio, but although Achieved good results, did not achieve expected results. Why… seriously breaking Records 6 months prior to a major comp with years of prep beforehand? They were ahead of schedule in their peaking by 6 months. If we look at the grueling Tour De France, the potential winners go in ‘underdone’ on their first week and if they have got it right …get Peak Fitness in the Tour, not before.
Going into an event without having practiced your necessary skills for over 2 weeks (including travel) certainly could have costs.
Back us lowly mortals.
We need to keep up our surf specific skills. So even if the surf is rubbish, after a couple of ‘lay days’ we need to go out in the rubbish. Then we are, if nothing else, getting specific paddling practice and pop-up work.
Surfing is paramount to surf training, whilst I am obviously an advocate of complimentary avenues of training to enhance those skills, it is the choice and organisation of those training modalities that is so important.
I have seen good and bad training programmes amongst the Pros, I have spoken to two Top female Pros and suggested they should really look at their posture.
One conversation was regarding their Training which was Posted by their Trainer on-line. The Training was so out of whack Posturally (Their Long Time Coached agreed with me). They ended up leaving the Tour with back issues…. The training would have been, at the least, aggravating and reinforcing those issues, it could also have been the root cause.
The other conversation was regarding another Pro’s really out of whack hip position and back curve. This person is capable of a World Title, but I do not think they will get that title unless they sort the posture problems, as it inhibits their power and projection capabilities, plus it will interfere with their balance/Centre of Gravity.
Ok, let’s create a Priority for ‘Fitness’ in the surf, let’s start with using your brain:
- Mental Fitness is paramount. If it is not right in your head (or your body/head link), it will not be right in the water or on land.
- Be cognisant and real about your skillsets.
- Mentally rehearse maneuvers.
- Watch others of greater skills, but also watch others of lesser skills sometimes to reinforce what not to do.
- Do not be a danger/risk to others.
- Study the conditions and breaks, being aware that on long period swells it could be 20-30 mins between the much bigger sets.
- Do you know your way around in the Line-up?
- Do you know your way around in a crowd?
- Be courteous and aware of the locals.
If someone told you the inside man has the right of way, think again! Especially if you are maneuvering for the inside constantly in someone else’s break.
Check the pecking order.
Now let us look at some training protocols:
- Postural integrity is everything, bad posture, or incorrectly balanced postural strength (core strength), can lead to injury. Work on this aspect before ANY other training, OTHER than your surfing. A strong badly aligned posture is never as good as a correctly balanced/aligned posture, regardless of strength factors. Core and balance work is also essential for our ‘sitting’ component whilst in the water.
- Movement patterning, neural flow and correct flexibilities come next. Flexibility is a personal/genetic capability, keeping your best range possible is the goal. Neural Flow is the ability to move seamlessly through movement, it adds to many aspects (Quickness/Reactiveness/Agility/Power, to name some). Movement pattering is a learned effective skillset.
- Cardio Vascular Training I would suggest is next. We are on a wave on average 6-15 seconds if we’re lucky (not a point break), We’re paddling in many different ways (paddling to keep our position, paddling for a wave and some ‘hand scoop paddling whilst sitting). Think about it. How long might your longest paddle be? Long paddle without breaking waves. Long paddle through a hard Line Up, Constant paddle in a Rip, Paddling onto a wave. That’s four completely different training protocols right there. Endurance, Endurance/High end Aerobic capacity, Middle capacity Cardiovascular and then Anaerobic (think Sprint). So, think it through then replicate, either surf specific training, or simulated dry land training that mimics the water essentials for the CV system.
- Strength/Power. You could be ‘Arnold’ in the gym and to your maximum strength levels possible genetically, but that actually might be detrimental if it doesn’t compliment the protocols above. Power is defined by LOAD X DISTANCE MOVED/ (divided by) TIME. Time is the important factor here, being powerful in surfing is a huge enhancement to overall performance. A simple example is you and you buddy can both bench 100kgms max for 1 rep (LOAD), you both have the same arm length (DISTANCE), he benches the 100kg in 2 seconds (TIME), you bench it in 1.5 seconds. You are both doing a 100kgm load (Strength), but because you can do it faster, you are the more powerful. Strength Training for surfing is not about ultimate strength, but ultimate strength in achieving the required outcome. One of the fundamental outcomes in Strength Training for surfing is ‘Joint Integrity/Injury Prevention’. Grip strength (for Duck Diving) is also important, there are specific grip exercises, but if you are lifting ‘metal’ for your Strength Training your grip will improve.
- Equipment/Conditions (what? Equipment under ‘Fitness’?) What you ride and where you ride it will dictate some of the ‘Adaptation’ protocols you require. Choosing the right boards (as a lot of people do not do, because of trends etc). is extremely important. A board with not enough flotation will make life harder and require a greater level of fitness to compensate.
- Water ‘Fitness’ (Mentality). If you are going to hassle at foreign breaks, you’re going to have to also train your Martial Arts skills! If you play the correct game in the water and start learning the specific break ‘rules’, you’ll probably get better waves. Your fitness attributes will play a big part if a local tells you it is your go… do not fall off! Seriously though Mental Fitness is extremely important, competence leads to confidence, but also to a clear understanding of your skillsets and position in the pecking order, in the varying environments.
I will include some images of the fundamentals you may like to consider.
Straight Arm Lat Pulls
Pallof Press (invented in the 50s/60s, claimed by others!)