Examining Mental Models and the Beliefs they Create

Erik Antonson
Erik Antonson
August 27, 2016

Knowingly or unknowingly we model people, behavior, and skills.  We accept some of the models and reject others.  Either decision can result in a pattern and repeated enough will become a habit.  Habits over time can become beliefs.  Beliefs are hard to change.

3 years ago this video became my aspiration in paddle surfing.

I bought the JP 7.4, downloaded the song and modeled the surfing.

I’ve made this statement multiple times over the last 2 years –

“JP’s don’t really do rail turn.”

Today, while coaching, I decided to ride the JP.  I like the float and it’s easy to demonstrate paddle technique.  I always pick off a few waves during a session.  I gave zero thought to my surfing or what board I was riding – normally I have an intention.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Infinity lately, and defaulted to “Infinity lines.”  After a couple waves I realized I was drawing tight rail turns.

I journaled a few weeks ago about mustering rail turns on the JP, but that was with a ton of thought.  Consciously changing the way I was surfing.  Today was different.  It just flowed.  I was surfing the board with lines meant for a different board, and they worked.

What the f#$%?

I held a belief that JP’s don’t do rail turns.  Where did that belief come from?

I modeled Keahi, specifically the above video, to learn to surf the JP.  In the video Keahi does exactly one frontside slingshot rail turn (and not a great one at that).  Much stronger are his lip smashes and tail slides.  I spent hours modeling them.  Breaking down technique and recreating the turns.  But never once modeled a rail turn for the board.

The model of surfing like Keahi in that video turned into the pattern of top-to-bottom and slidey surfing.

The habit of surfing the board in that manner created the belief that JP’s don’t do rail turns.

All it took was surfing it like it was an Infinity,  and the board behaved differently. (When I modeled surfing Infinities and Hobies I’ve modeled rail surfing – Colin and Boehne)

This has me a bit mental at the moment.  I was certain and have argued that JP’s don’t do rail turns.  But, in fact, it was my model for surfing the JP didn’t do rail turns.

There are a few lines of thought I’m going to pursue – I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.  I’m exploring this in real time…

  1.  How does this apply to coaching.  Normally we start with the behavior.  X isn’t correct, you need to do Y. This is telling someone a belief is flawed.  Would a better approach be to go back to the beginning and ask where did the model for X come from?  Then switch that model for a better model, which should then eventually change the behavior.
  2. What are other beliefs that I currently hold that are based on flawed or incomplete models?
  3. Examining the beliefs held by surfers of paddle surfing.  What models created those beliefs and what new models do we need to create to replace the old models?

That’s just the beginning.  Think about personal, non-surfing beliefs.  Parenting… The rabbit hole is deep.



Progression Journal

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: