Surfing is a challenging activity, and developing perfect timing in an ever changing environment like the ocean can be especially challenging. Perfect timing is developed through mastering basic surf techniques such as catching a wave in the ideal position, popping up with speed and grace, and turning with the flow and the wave to generate speed and smooth maneuvers. In addition to mastering the physical skills, it’s also critical to master the mental aspects of surfing to truly express your unique style.
5 Keys to Developing Perfect Surf Timing:
1. Develop muscle memory (mastery) through practice and repetition to allow your body to respond spontaneously to the changing environment on a wave face (1). Muscle memory depends on repetition and, to some degree, on confidence. "Part of regaining coordination--or achieving it for the first time--is about trusting that anyone can build muscle memory," says Dr. Deepak Chopra, a best-selling author and holistic physician. "Practice may not make us perfect, but we can get a lot better."
What you can control:
“Adversity is a fact of life. It can't be controlled. What we can control is how we react to it.”--Unknown
What you can't control - Since these factors can't be controlled, it's best to not focus attention on them. Instead, focus on what you can control (above).
3. Manage Expectations
Working on improving your skills is critical to better performance, but once you are out in the water, try to let go of all expectations and simply experience your surf session. Expectations force your mind to judge every movement against that expectation which leads to a more critical self-talk, which can sabotage your session.
Recent research has shown that having an attitude of willingness, rather than strict goal orientation, has more positive impact on outcomes. Having an open mind about the outcome of an activity engenders a sense of autonomy and intrinsic motivation (Herbert, Scientific American Mind July/August 2010).
An example of an expression of willingness is "I'd like to just experience what it feels like to drop in on a super hollow wave" rather than "I will catch 5 perfect waves today." The second statement leads to feelings of anxiety and stress, whereas the first statement opens your mind to possibility and choice, increasing your odds of flowing with the conditions.
Most of us encounter fear at some point while surfing. Where you experience fear depends on your level of skill and experience as well as your physiological make up. How we respond to the emotion of fear significantly impacts our surfing and timing. Some surfers use the physical reactions of adrenaline (increased heart rate and muscle tension) to fuel their drive; they see it in positive terms, feeling ready to take on the challenge. While others experience a negative reaction with extreme tension, discomfort and a desire to flee.
Here are some tools for dealing with fear:
5. Cultivate mindfulness--Consciously seek to experience the fearful activity. If it’s dropping in on a bigger wave, think "I really want to experience what that feels like, the whole thing, dropping in, wiping out, paddling back out." Then challenge your senses to experience as much of the action as possible--your breathing, your heart rate, your level of muscle tension, the feel of the water rushing all around you as you roll with the whitewash. Remember, we were submerged in liquid for nine months prior to birth; submersion is actually a natural sensation. Meditation is a great way to train mindfulness and diminish the negative impact of fear. A great book on the topic is Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
(1) (Source: Answerbag.com)
(c)2010 Waves of Change (Mary McGibbons-Craft)