Submitted by kbomb on Tue, 08/04/2020 - 23:20
I've now been surfing for around 15 years and I'm still a kook. Why? I put it down to two things, the first genetics. I'm too tall, inflexible and have disproportionate limb sizes. The second, learning in my mid 20s. Like anything, for the best chance of meeting your potential, learn it before you hit your teens.
This is not to say that I'm not athletic. Those sports I learnt as a kid I did well in. I even went back to play a few years ago after 10 years off and picked it up again relatively quickly. However, if I have a few months off surfing due to injury, its a different story. The pathways to the brain are so much stronger and last so much longer when you learn as a kid.
I find surfing extremely enjoyable but also very difficult and I always think that I am on the verge of becoming a true intermediate. I've been thinking like this for most of my 15 years surfing.
I think I love surfing so much because I'm no good at it, because I keep trying to get better, I keep thinking that one day I will have a quicker take off and my surfing will leap forward like I've been hoping. But it never does and I'm almost 40.
What if I did learn as a kid and I was a good surfer? Would I still be surfing today? Maybe, maybe not. The sports that I played in my childhood, teens and early 20s, I don't play anymore. I got sick of them, met my potential, stopped progressing and then lost interest. Surfing may have gone the same way. Or maybe not.
It doesnt worry me anymore, being a kook. I know where to sit in a line up, usually somewhere way down the line, I learn a lot as I watch the good people take off and surf how I want to. I know I'll kook it every now and then and look like an idiot in front of the "true locals", but I don't care. I've never intentionally dropped in on anyone which some of those people can't say.
What I hate about surfing is the way Kooks are looked down on. It's like people that don't have the skill level of the majority don't belong out in the line up. It's utter rubbish and comes across as behavior you would see in a primary school. Some surfers think that just because they had the opportunity to learn young or were born with good genetics, it's their right to treat people less fortunate or less gifted like lower class citizens. They think it's ok to drop in, to snake and then to not make eye contact when they paddle back past you. They think it's ok to be cowardly.
If kooks are out there abiding by all the rules and are surfing within their limits, shouldn't they be treated as equals?
Of course not everyone looks down on the kook, infact where I surf most couldn't give a shit how well you surf.
But there's always one or two that do.
If you make a conscious effort to do something differently you can still improve through adulthood, thought it does seem for me like I need to be more intentional now than when I was a grom if I want to improve something.
The odd photo/sequence helps with that, for me at least (from the odd occasion that the missus is sitting on the beach and takes a pic).
Then again, I'm still only in my late 20s, so can't speak for how that holds as you get older.
Of course, there's a lot to be said for just having fun with what you can do
He who hesitates is lost
"If you make a conscious effort to do something differently you can still improve through adulthood" 100% agree, I think that the biggest factor in adulthood improvement is the barriers we create about what we believe we can and can't do, i.e, fear. Of course bodily limitations become a factor (e.g. sarcopenia), but this is later...
I think its more habitual movement patterns get so ingrained it's hard to shift them, especially when things happen so quickly on a wave.
It's hard enough improving if you have unlimited perfect waves but if you are mucking around in average beach break where randomness is the dominant factor it becomes extraordinarily difficult.
It takes a lot of conscious thought, creativity and intention to shift those movement patterns as you get older.
I think the Fear factor is more related to heavy waves, and in that case, is a totally rational response, especially if you are older and don;'t have the skill set to deal with it.
Yeah you're right, fear wasn't the right word is was looking for. It's more of an apprehension to try new things with age, from attempting a new approach to doing a manoeuvre to, I don't know, learning a new language. People, on average, seem to increasingly want to stay in their comfort zone as they get older and I see this as a form of fear, of the unknown if you like and it is a mental barrier. Does that make sense? Or I'm off the mark? Totally agree with your beachbreak point
"mate, I'm a fucking mirror, if people bring good vibes and manners that's what they get back, if they act like fuckwits they get a nightmare".
That was the attitude I got all along the pecking order growing up and one I've essentially carried with me since.
Biggest problem these days is most beginners wouldn't even know what a pecking order is; where as, it was the first thing I learnt.
I've chilled out over time and also moved twice to quieter regions to be able to enjoy less crowds as I think you have to take responsibility for your own actions and ensure that you're not bringing aggro into the water.
I just wish this massive new influx of beginners would have the foundation of respect and not entitlement, unfortunately I don't think this is a pattern exclusive to surfing.
I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.
crg have you ever had anyone call your bluff and have a go back?
totally makes sense Terminal.
Fantastic thread, access to un-crowded good waves, and exposure/time to watch talented surfers but to change kookish form you need to be aware of it in the first place. Friends can comment but i guess you need to see footage of yourself surfing to really know the bits you want to improve or change. i reckon that's a big advantage the pro's and hot shots have over the average punter. Agree with a previous comment spend 6-12 months in somewhere like Indo, goes a long way to improve form. Personally the worst kookishness i find is the frantic mania of people trying to emulate contest surfing- and not pulling it off.....
I'm a bit surprised a bloke in his twenties is called Pops.
Good posts gents- carry on.
edit: totally Spider, there's a local fella here we call 'Espresso-boy'- every wave is full tilt. He can surf but he's got no style, no flow, he just muscles every movement, it's ugly to watch. Nice fella though. Paints.
I do feel like I have improved my surfing this winter.
lots of insane surf.
best boards I've ever had.
Lots of insane ripping happening right in front of me, from alt ripping from Joel Fitz, Rasta, Torryn Martyn etc etc to CT style surfing from Connor Leary, Owen Wright, Fanning, Parko, Melling, Mikey McDonagh etc etc.
Few waves I've kicked out on this winter and thought: thats the best I've ever gone.
Also bought a web coaching thing from Matt Bromley which may or may not have helped.
Objectively, I'm not sure I've improved but subjectively I feel I have.
Goofyfoot...I've never been one to really yell and pick a fight but rather I'll just burn someone mercilessly and relentlessly if they've been out of order until they get the picture. Probably crossed heated words a dozen times in 40 years of surfing. Never had a fight.
Nice one, it's never a good look when it actually comes to blows
No it casts a dark shadow on what should have been a really happy enjoyable time.Have seen a couple of really sickening fights, one at lennox point back in the day ,two guys ,not locals ,hasseling each other one arvo where it went to fisticuffs up in the car park and onto the road where cars would have to stop to let these guys go back and forth across the road,wasnt much traffic back then, haha but no winners ,both were knocked around pretty bad.......and the waves were so so.....the other was at angas and two locals who had it in for each other...which was something that never should have happened especially in front of familys with young kids ...brutual and i hope i never see that again.....surfing spirit is about fun and enjoying nature but some people dont see that,all about their egos and whats in it for them.
Years ago I saw two local guys on the west coast of SA come to blows while surfing a long lefthand granite lined point break.
One took off out the back and the other dropped in 20 or so metres down the line, and had a swing on his way to the bottom turn. The other guy took a high line and got in a clip as they crossed over a second time. The wave kinda fattens up a bit so they clashed several times over the next couple hundred metres before heading for the rocks to finish the deal. It was quite the spectacle.
Perhaps the WSL could draw some inspiration from this in their quest to market surfing to the masses? UFC meets pro surfing?
Peter Drouyn was a visionary.
Hey FR, that’s interesting to hear about the web coaching. The board riders here run coaching for groms and girls/ladies. But not for the Dads/dudes.
But I think a 40 something like myself could benefit from some honest appraisal and some tuning up.
This winter has been consistent on our coast with a couple of the local classics firing out of season. Been surfing a lot and think some technical instruction could benefit.
Definitely doing any sports with people who are better than you will improve your game. We just don’t have a strong/any professional presence on our coast unless your into the Right.
Any key points that you feel made a notable difference in your performance?
Edit: the two factors that I notice when I work on them are my personal weight and being a tall guy 6’3”, flexibility. If I stay under 90kg I feel great if I creep up to around 95kg not so great.
You're a little bit taller than me Soggy but weight-wise about the same. If I can stay in the high 80's I'm all good, tipping into the 90's it has a marked affect on my surfing.
I reckon there's merit in getting a little middle-aged coaching just to tweak and fine tune a bit of course without disregarding equipment too.
Yeah Zen, I’ve got the equipment dialed as when I’m feeling strong and flexible it goes where I want it to.
It’s getting that consistency of performance that I really would like to achieve.
Soggydog, check out Martin Dunn on youtube, really good breakdown of technique. Also, those surf-skate boards help too, muscle memory and all that.
I skate a fair bit now and my wife has a carver. I’m not big on it, they’re high and twitchy. I’ve got a sector nine with the baseplate mounted on top for bombing and a Powell popsicle for general skating, I like popping ollies and trying tricks when I skate.
I’ll check out Martin Dunn, thanks Adam.
Zen, "Pops" comes from my last name/is what pretty much everyone who knows me calls me.
FR, that's really cool to hear that you feel like you've improved!
What was the process for the web coaching? Get someone to take some footage of you then send it in for him to critique?
Yeah, I've been thinking lately that I could really benefit from some footage of myself surfing in order to better understand my body mechanics. In gyms and dojos and the like they've usually got a mirror wall and it definitely helps to improve your form. Without feedback and comparison it's very hard to correct.
I know what it feels like when I surf, but I have no idea - literally, none - what it looks like. My arms could be flapping everywhere and my butt sticking out for all I know. Having watched a million surf videos, I know what good surfing looks like from the outside, so I would know straight away where I'm at.
The challenge is to find someone willing to sit on the beach and video it. Non-surfers don't have the interest, and surfers will want to be out there themselves. Wonder if I could convince the kids to make it a school project....
seen bit and pieces of myself surfing over the years. It ain't pretty but it's not soul crushingly bad either.
anyhow, I have a pretty good idea whats going on there, and the difference between what I think I'm doing and what I'm actually doing.
I just practiced some of the tips from the web coaching, on a skatey first if necessary and then applied to the surf. One small thing at a time.
To see what works.
I think Matt Bromely's web thing cost about $15 bucks, less than a six pack.
that was the total cost.
You'd probably get better results if you spent more money on proper coaching but I can't justify that and I'd probably be too embarrassed to do it.
Two things that really helped seem contradictory. The first was strengthening the upper body, with chin ups and push ups. That helped me catch more set waves.
The second was consciously relaxing the upper body while riding a wave.. That made my turns smoother, better placed and surfing felt a lot better.
Martin Dunn was really good for teaching some of the basic body positions.
"I have passed on the advice to shift forward but sure enough he slips back into his slightly too far back position. Why? Habit partly, but also I think he has some deep fear of nose diving and of really launching into a wave with speed."
Exactly my problem! Confidence is a huge problem so I lean back too far.
I actually got some video coaching from the HPC at Casuarina as a B'day present from the wife a few years back. The best bit of advice I got was to bring the back arm around during a forehand top turn of any sort. A lot of people - myself included tend to throw the trailing arm backwards during a turn which actually slows you down and throws you off balance. Bringing that arm through and letting it almost lead you through the turn increases the turn speed and gets your torso and hips moving in the right way, centres you properly and looks way better. Was really worth it, just for theat 1 tip alone.
Its weird that most reasonable to good surfers that have been surfing a long time and dedicate a lot of hours to the activity balk at getting any coaching. Its worth it and you will almost certainly learn somthing that you can put into practice. Just gotta let go the ego for a bit.
Check out Samba’s Shape your Surfing on insta