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18 November, 2011

It’s All in Your Head

This week I am surfing in Vietnam of all places. It’s a long story how I got here. Somehow I stumbled upon a local surf contest, rented a board, entered and won. The waves were only small, and the standard was not high. But it was a lot of fun. What I really enjoy is surfing some uncrowded spots with nice people like here.

Anyway it got me thinking. In the contest I surfed really well (for me.) I did this because I was confident. The standard of surfing was nowhere near home so I had an inner confidence that led to me surf at my personal best. But I’m not always like that. Sometimes if I surf with or against a bunch of hotties, or if the surf is really big, my less-confident mind-set can cause me to surf like crap. Or at least, far worse than I normally would.

Can you relate? I know many of my students suffer from confidence issues – often in bigger waves or crowded surf. Low confidence causes them to make mistakes and surf at a level they hate themselves for.

So – how can you change your mind-set? How can you lift your confidence when you’re having a shocker?

Here are some simple tips:-

1. Stop focusing on things outside your control. Eg: DON’T focus on the clean up sets, the rocks in front of the take off zone, the way the other surfers are tearing it up etc.. Nothing you do will change these so why waste your thoughts on them?

2. Instead do focus on things you CAN control. Eg: Your line up points, paddling harder into a sucky drop, leaning forward on takeoff etc… These are things that WILL actually help you go better. So give them your attention.

3. Visualize times in your life when you have done it right. Eg: See a picture of yourself the last time you made a steep takeoff. Good memories can trigger better thoughts. The real ones are the meaningful ones.

4. Say some positive affirmations to yourself. Eg: “On my next wave I’m gonna paddle extra hard, get up, lean forward, connect my front rail and get pitted. I am going to make it and it’s going to feel unreal!” Very often what you say is what you will get. So say what it is that you want to achieve. Your sub-conscious thoughts are very powerful. Let them do the work for you. But so often you have them working against you by thinking negatively.

5. See a picture of yourself making it in your mind. Like a snapshot photo of you… once when you were ripping. Continue to re-enforce that picture with positive action words. Keep that image clear – park it right in the front space of your mind.

In the simplest terms possible, if you’re paddling into the biggest, steepest wave of your life (whether that be 3 or 30 feet), when you see yourself getting axed, you probably will. And when you see yourself making it, you probably will.

We all have shocker sessions. Much of surfing is a mind game. Next time you get into a negative mind-set, see if you can turn it around by following these tips. Challenge yourself to rescue your session.


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