Getting Worse at Surfing? 9 Tips to Get You Out of a Slump

Your surfing is getting worse. You’re at a progression stand still and just feel like you’re getting nowhere with this frustration hobby. You’ve put in heaps of money and countless hours but still want to throw in the beach towel. You’ve hit a wall. But is there a way to bust through this wall screaming OHHHH YEAHHHH like the surfing Kool-Aid man you really are.

Slumps can be very frustrating. It happens to beginners and pros alike. Everyone feels like they plateau at some point or even worse digress. But what separates the pros from the joes, the macs from cheese, the beans from the toast is the ability to push on through a slump and self motivate into progression. So here’s 9 tips that hopefully help you get out of your surfing slump.

1. Go Surfing

Surfing is one of those things that takes so much time to learn and get good at. Years at least before things really start to work. It’s a big-time commitment and the more you do it the better you get. So the easiest way to get out of a slump is just surf.

Surf as much as you can and eventually you’ll start to see improvements.

Might be easier said than done. Can be actually quite the catch 22 for old slumpy. The classic I don’t want to surf because I suck, and I suck because I don’t want to surf. If you’re not feeling good and nothing is working you’re most likely not having much fun. If you’re not having much fun you’re less likely to surf…

The key is just to make yourself go, even if you don’t want to. You’re never going to progress or getting better without spending hours and hours in the water.  So just do it, no excuses you’ll never get better without actually just surfing.

They’ll be a million excuses to stop yourself from surfing as well. The main one being wave conditions. You’ll convince yourself the waves are poor and it’s not worth going out. But in reality surfing poor waves can make you better.

If you can rip some dumpy little turd waves you’ll definitely rip when it’s firing. So don’t even bother checking the cam or the reports some mornings and just go. This will mean you’ll surf twice as much, cause you’ll be shredding when it’s good and bad. So no matter what your excuse just get in the water.

If you’re really motivated to get out of your slump and progress, start running two days.

Surf in the morning before work and in the evening after work. Surfing twice a day can be exhausting but you’ll get stronger and the extra hours of practice will lead to improvement.

2. Take a Surf Lesson

Surf lessons are not only for beginners. They can be great for intermediate and advanced surfers as well. The guidance of an experienced surfer out in the water can make a big difference when it comes to perfecting your technique or even just catching more waves.

Yes your homies in the parking lot will have all sorts of advice for how to improve. From stretches to herbal teas they’ll tell you it all. But as soon as you’re in the water your homie who had all the help in the world in the parking lot, is off getting shacked at 2nd point and nowhere to be found.

That’s why a private or group lesson can be very helpful. They’ll be a person there who’s getting paid to help you. Their priority won’t be catching waves or having fun, it will be you and your improvement.

They’ll be able to focus on your mistakes and give you real-time feedback and adjustments on how to fix them. Being able to get advice in real-time and practice and adjust as you go is extremely valuable information.

This information can then be used when you’re surfing again on your own. You’ll get tips and pointers during the lesson to use later on once you’re surfing on your own. This will help you break bad habits and pinpoint the areas you are making mistakes. Giving you the knowledge and ability to later go out on your own and focus on what needs improvement.

If you don’t know what you’re doing wrong you can’t fix it, and a surf lesson will help you learn where your surfing needs improvement.

3. Switch up that Board

Yes short boards are cool and the shredders riding them make it look effortless and easy. But it really isn’t easy. Maybe you’re trying to learn on a shortboard and wondering why you can’t catch any waves and just plain suck. Well maybe it’s not you, it’s your board.

But mainly if you’re trying to learn on a shortboard you could be doing yourself more harm than good.

First off you’ll almost definitely catch less waves. The more volume a board has, the easier it catched waves.

There’s just more board, to create more momentum and grab more waves. If you’re not catching waves you’re more than likely pretty frustrated. You can simply fix this by just trying to ride a larger board.

The larger board will be easier to ride as well. It has more surface area to stand on and will feel much more stable.

You can progress heaps on a longboard then start downsizing to smaller and smaller boards once you got the basics down.

Don’t lock yourself into one board type. Good surfers will have a quiver of boards for all types of conditions. If you’re not having fun on the shortboard switch it up to take out that LB.

If the longboard has got boring bring out the wee fish you’ve been wanting to ride. If you feel like you’ve plateaued on the shortboard there’s a million things to learn on a LB that you probably never tried before. And the same goes for the other way around.

4. Try a New Spot

Surfing the same break every day can be amazing. You’ll learn the wave inside and out, know exactly where to sit, where to paddle out etc. But sometimes it can leave wanting something new. And needing something new in order to progress.

Surfing at a different place and riding all sorts of different waves is a great way to progress. You’ll have the excitement of going to a new break and riding a new wave which on its own can give you the confidence and stoke to try new things. And riding many different waves is a great way to improve and become a more rounded surfer.

There are some things that can only be done on certain waves. If you’ve been riding a slow breaking beginner wave it won’t really be possible to learn how to get barreled. You’ll have to go to a different break that offers barreling waves to learn that skill.

There’s so many different types of waves that require different skills and offer different options for a variety of maneuvers. If you only surfer a slower point break try going to that faster breaking beach break to improve your pumping and driving skills. If you mostly surf a dumpy beach break make the trek to the point to learn some round houses on a wide open face.

And most importantly if your home break kinda sucks make that 2 hr drive to the world-famous spot.

It’s world-famous for a reason and surfing better waves will make you better. You’ll get longer rides and more time to practice things on the open wave face then you would on the dumpy little closeouts of your local. It’s not a coincidence that good surfers grew up surfing good waves.

5. Watch YouTube Videos

The internet is a wild place. From cats to boobies it’s pretty much got it all these days. That includes surfing. And that includes surfing tutorials and trick tips. Youtube is a great tool to gain information about surfing.

If you are having issues with your pop up, where you pop up to your feet from laying prone on your board,  you can simply watch a youtube tutorial on pop ups. It will have things you can practice at home to help then add tips to try in the water.

YouTube tutorials are great if you know what you want to learn.

If you’ve seen some awesome maneuvers out in the water, like 360s or airs or 360 airs there will be literally hundreds of videos with different explanations on how to help you out.

These are called trick tips. Trick tips are a great way to understand the basics of a trick and what will go into it before you perform it. Also maybe the trick tip will be performed and explained by your favorite pro.

Remember that as great as youtube and the internet is none of this will work without actual real-world practice in the water. You can watch YouTube videos till your eyes hurt, and smash hundreds of subscribe buttons but if you don’t go out and practice it will be all for nothing.

So definitely watch videos to get a better grasp of a trick or maneuver but don’t forget to actually go surfing and go try it in the water.

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6. Go On a Surf Trip

This might be akin to saving your marriage by having a child, but going on a surf trip really could save your surfing.

If your feeling stuck a change of scenery can be just the breath of fresh air you need. Getting out to a new country or state with the sole goal of surfing and travel can give your surfing a new purpose and push you to the next level.

Staying in surf destinations for an extended period of time can do wonders for your abilities. You’ll be surrounded by surf culture and like-minded people all with a similar goal in mind; to surf tasty waves and get better at surfing.

This will push you to get better as well. There will be a vibe in the air of motivation and progressions. You’ll breathe, eat and sleep surfing. How could that not make you better?

And lastly the waves. Oh good lord baby Jesus the waves. The glorious waves. If you’re paying for a flight possibly halfway around the world, accommodation, food etc. you better bet your sweet little buns you’re going somewhere with tasty waves.

And like we’ve talked about above in number 4, good waves make good surfers. You’ll get to gorge yourself on glorious waves night and day for weeks at a time.

Getting to frequently surf amazing waves that a lot of the time can be fairly uncrowded will skyrocket your abilities. You’ll leave zero and come back to your home break a hero.

7. Exercise

Surfing is physical. Very physical. To be a competent surfer it helps to be in good shape. Paddling out takes a lot of upper body strength plus cardio and stamina. Then to catch waves you need to have good paddle strength as well. And even once you’ve caught the wave you have to what essentially is a burpee.

This is why burpees are such a common surfing exercise. There are many exercise programs designed for surf conditioning, but a very simple one is the good old fashion burpee.

You can do them every day just to feel that much stronger out in the water. Pushups are a good one as well. Anything to strengthen your upper body and core. To help with your stamina running is great as well.

All the pros are on strict workout routines and diets these days. So it obviously works for them. I’m not saying you have to be a workout health nut and start taking kale juice enemas, but being fit isn’t gonna make you worse at surfing. And the great thing about surfing is surfing itself will get you in shape for surfing. Surfception.

Exercise combined with a good diet can be just the thing to get you out of a slump. If you feel better you’ll surf better. If you’re stronger you’ll catch more waves. If you catch more waves you’ll get better at shredding.

8. Dont Worry Be Happy

Really don’t worry about it. And don’t compare yourself to others. People are amazing at things and there’ll always be a 9-year-old somewhere who’s better than everyone. Just because other people are good or better than you doesn’t mean you’re not good in your own way.

It’s really the biggest cliche but it doesn’t matter how good you are if you’re not having fun.

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, c’mon say it with me “ the best surfer is the guy having the most fun” so just focus on having fun and who gives a rat bum how good or not good you are.

Remember the worst-case scenario is you flop around in the ocean with a piece of foam and get some exercise. And in my book, playing in the ocean whether you catch a wave or not is super fun.

Don’t always look at a slump as a bad thing. Being stuck on a plateau can be a good sign. It means you’ve finished one level so to speak and you’re about to break through to the next level of your skillset.

So enjoy your time atop the plateau because it won’t last for long. Yes, you could be stuck there for a little while, feeling stagnant, but before you know it your new skills will open up a new world of things for you to try and learn.

9. Join Your Local Surf Club

Many surf towns or cities have a local surf club. This is a great way to meet other surfers to surround yourself with. You can make new friends who also surf, this way you’ll have more opportunities to surf with people of all different skill levels.

You’ll have the chance to meet really good surfers through the club and surf with them.

Surfing with people better than you is a great way to raise the bar and bring yourself out of a slump. They might push you to try things you otherwise would have been scared to attempt. Proving to you certain maneuvers are more normal than you think.

The surf club will also have a certain amount of events and even trips a year that you can decide to participate in. The more surfing centered activities, such as camping trips and beach bbqs etc. you surround yourself with the more opportunities you will be giving yourself to improve. The more opportunities you have to improve the better you will become.

But most importantly the club will introduce to people who’ve all done it before. Everyone in the club has been a beginner before and gone through all the troubles you are facing and more. So when it comes to being part of a community that will help you out its a great place to be.