The ocean does not always present surfers the opportunity to dip our heads into the water each day. There are certain days that the conditions do not allow for it, whatever the reason. Some locations see more of these days than others, and even here in sunny San Diego, a surfing mecca of the US, we experience our fair share. Your ability to use these off-days to improve diverse skills useful in the sport of surfing will set you apart from those who only get in practice while riding a wave.
Practice Your Pop-Up
The most inexcusable exercise ignored is your pop-up technique. Practicing this can be done in any space during any free time. During surf lessons, I urge my students who continue surfing, as I prompt you, readers, to practice your pop-up using these utensils. First, set up a full-body mirror somewhere in your home. Use a large piece of tape, at least six feet in length, and place it on the floor directly in front of the mirror. Act as if the taped line is the stringer on your surfboard. Practice the pop-up looking at your positioning over the line in the mirror. By looking at the mirror, your head is always up. Your eyes lock onto a forward target instead of looking down at your feet.
Exercise Stabilizer Muscles
Surfing requires the use of many muscles that won’t see much action with heavy lifting. While learning to surf, even serious athletes who have worked out their bodies religiously will experience muscle soreness after a session. If you are a beginner surfer looking to build up your strength and better control your board under your feet, try some of the following exercises:
Single-legged calf raises. This will focus on the muscles around the knees and ankles.
Yoga Pose – Warrior II. This pose is felt in the hips, glutes, as well as quads, and hamstrings
Superman’s (lay on stomach and lift arms and legs off of the ground.) This exercise will build strength in the core and lower back.
Get Yourself onto a Different Board
I can accredit some of my surf style to the amount of time spent on a skateboard growing up. If you look into the roots of similar board sports, like snowboarding and skating, the pioneers in each were initially among the surfing community. Although some skills may not translate exactly from one sport to another, any time spent on a board will improve ability and awareness while riding, both of which are transferable throughout each board activity.