Here’s a raw video breakdown. I know a lot of you have been asking for this for a while. And we’ve wanted to do produced tech videos, but the reality is we spend all the time making it polished and at the end of the day we can’t convey as much info. It’s why I love podcasts and why instead of doing the polished videos I figured we try some raw breakdowns first. This is as raw as it gets, it’s like sitting down over breakfast and going through footage. This type of analysis is how I learn and practice…
Let me know if you all like it and I can knock out more. Pretty easy and I have a boatload of footage.
I started the progression journal to stay focused on deliberate practice in surfing. The goal was to ensure hard work and focus on specific skills during each session. It worked at the beginning. Each morning, as I stretched watching the waves, I’d determine what my goal for the day was going to be, and how I planned to practice.
What I didn’t anticipate was that daily writing and the need for ideas would force me to examine surfing in a different way. It has forced me to become an objective observer of the art. I am attempting to gain conscious understanding into unconscious processes by noticing details and techniques that I’ve done for years but never thought about. And today, through this process, I uncovered why I have more stability paddling on my toe side.
My objectives in the water this morning were the same as yesterday given the difficult conditions for stability. I chose to ride a small board and focus on balance, specifically heel side paddling. The mental focus was on watching and feeling the rails and how I did or didn’t remain stable. The process of balancing isn’t a conscious practice – it lives deeper – and my goal this morning was to understand it to a higher level.
What I discovered is that while paddling on my more-stable toe side, I correct balance very subtly with adjustments at the beginning of the stroke return. I’d guess that in 40-60% of strokes I finish with a very slight pull forward with emphasis right or left to correct balance and buy time until I get the blade in the water again. It might just be the way in which I stop the stroke and blade angle. At a basic level, I get my nose out of the water and my board directly under my feet.
I also discovered that I do not use this technique while paddling on my heel side. In observing balance for the full session, I didn’t once notice a micro-adjustment on the heel side while paddling. In fact, if I noticed that there was a section of chop coming, I anticipated it and switched sides to prepare.
My hypothesis for why I don’t have the skill heel side would be similar to why we only write with one hand. You have a need, you practice and learn a skill to fill that need, it works, and you don’t need to go through the trouble to learn it on the other side. It’s much easier to know I have balance toe side and switch if I feel unstable than to completely relearn a skill that I’ve likely been developing for a year or two.
Note: Since the Connor Baxter podcast, I’ve doubled down on toe side paddling learning how to paddle circles both ways while keeping the paddle on the toe side.
It’s fine to default to a strong side – I probably caught a ton of extra waves by deferring to the toe side, and my goal has been paddle surfing, not paddle technique – but it isn’t always possible. I have a 50% higher likelihood of falling while paddling for a wave on my heel side. The normal pattern of a fall is as follows: everything seems lined up correctly and then, just when the wave starts to push, I dig my heel side rail.
I’m not sure if addressing micro-adjustment on heel side paddling will aide balance. Maybe it isn’t possible in a semi-surf or full surf stance. But I’m going to explore the heel side stroke at more detailed level in the next few weeks and report back.
I’m also eager to expand this observation to other areas of life to see if similar patterns emerge. I’d love to hear your ideas and observations below in the comments.
Maximize your day folks! Erik
That lead in photo is some motivation to learn to surf smaller boards! You can get barreled on big paddle boards, but it’s way easier to fit in little tubes on little boards. If you want to get barrels like that, come surf with us!!!
(Had an email about paddle position in the barrel. I’ll fully break it down in the future, but I drop my back hand so I can gauge where the wave is, just hold the handle.)
I really love that starboard backside. I favour rights in almost all cases, especially on a standup… backside surfing is better vertical and most paddle boards don’t excel in top to bottom surfing. But, that starboard, with all it’s tail rocker, comes off the bottom like a rocket. Especially in slingshot bottom turns. Today, I was actually looking for lefts because I had so much fun on my first wave.
I haven’t yet figured out how to come off the lip when you smash a super vertical section backside. It’s way easier to get to the lip doing a slingshot bottom turn, but since I don’t switch the paddle before I hit the lip, coming down I’ve got the paddle on the heel side rail and there isn’t much you can do there with balance. I usually get destroyed with the lip bounce.
I’m going to break that turn down with some video, and probably blog about what I figure out. I don’t run into that issue on other boards, as I’m not in that critical spot, so haven’t yet looked at best practices.
Also broke a leash today. Knew it was going to happen right before it did. A big set was coming through and I got over the first 3. The 4th broke right in front of me. I dove off the front, we were way out the back, water was probably 12 feet deep, so no risk of hitting the bottom. Right as I was diving in, I felt the leash catch the fin and the the wave took the board. Clean cut. Long swim.
I’d love to hear your tactics for swimming with a paddle in the comments. I’ve tried numerous variations. Nothing really stands out as a best. Caio Vaz throws his paddle ahead and swims to it. I normally keep it in my right hand and swim. Sometimes I hold the bottom of the blade and use the blade to swim faster. If you can keep the paddle vertical it works. I like that method because it’s an effective way to body surf. The blade acts as a hand plane.
Ok! Let’s get you guys paddling smaller boards. Today I got Oscar Mon, super stud instructor from Blue Zone, currently crushing the National Circuit here in Costa Rica, to help out with the video. I wanted to show you all a drill that works well for practicing paddling on smaller boards. We did it in the whitewater at our beach break, but you start in flat water.
Oscar weighs in at 165 pounds and is riding a Hobie 7.4 at 81L. He likes to give me crap because his Hobie is 1L smaller than the starboard I’ve been riding…
The drill: Pop up, either from seated or prone (links go to those lessons). You’ll be in surf stance and you want your paddle on your toe side, that’s your powerful stroke. Paddle a circle as fast and efficient as you can stroked on your toe side, turning to your heel side. This is the the way you’ll catch most waves, so getting familiar by doing reps will increase learning speed. Way better to fall when drilling than when the set of the day is bearing down on you…
When you’re trying to learn start on flat water and eliminate variables. Then, when it starts to get a little bit easier add difficulty. Oscar paddles his board just fine, so he’s doing this drill in a difficult location.
Morning folks! Is this a strange year for weather where you live too? May is supposed to be a rainy, pretty bad month for surf. I usually tell folks to avoid it, and we’re not running any camps right now because of that risk… that’s whats giving me the time to dive into these tutorials. But, this year May has been stellar! This morning we had another day of overhead , offshore wind surf. Got some clips, maybe we’ll post those up later.
Lower tide this morning — steeper waves. Rode the starboard. I’ve never really thought about specific standups for conditions… not sure why. Normally I’m trying to learn a board and have felt that each board is a step closer to the pinnacle of performance. What’s strange is that in short boarding, I always have 2 or 3 boards. One for fat waves, one for punchy surf and one for when it gets really big.
I’m realizing that the starboard is an incredible board, but it definitely has a set of conditions it thrives in and some conditions where it struggles. It’s more like a shortboard, a true, good wave shortboard. I wonder, if in a year or so, I’ll be traveling with 2 SUPs, like I do with shortboards…
Here’s a few pics from the morning –
Harvey emailed in with a note on volume. I thought it was helpful, so I’ll post it here:
When you are considering the amount of litres you need to support a paddler I think you need to factor in the weight of the board, paddle and wet suit. So for me in full winter mode in a 6/5 hooded wet surf , under vest , boots, and soaking wet I think that might weigh 2 kg poss 3. Add the board and paddle could add over 10kg to my body weight. I think you need to consider adding that to the your weight to get the neutral bouyancy.
In practice it means small boards are a bit smaller people might think. Weight of the board and what you wear can have an influence. Thought might be worth mentioning as I think in non perfect conditions a few extra litres can really make a big difference to having a fun session and the last thing I want to see is people going too small and loosing the fun.
Agreed Harvey. That said, I have more trouble riding a board a bit bigger than closer to my V/W ratio. It’s nice to be below the chop. But, it’s a new still set, and will take some practice to get it.
On to today’s tip. How to get up from prone position. Like I said yesterday, I don’t favor this method, but when you’re paddling back out and a set pops up it’s faster to pop right up instead of going to seated position. You also lose momentum when you sit.
One tip, something you can try as you’re getting used to riding smaller boards, but that I would quit ASAP, is go use incoming waves or chop to help you get up. One of the problems of popping up on a small board is that the force you’re using to get up on the board will sink your board a bit. I found that if you paddle at an oncoming wave and pop up right as your going over the back of it, so descending down the back of it, you can pop up without nearly as much sinking. You shouldn’t get used to this method is that when you want to pop up, you’ll be looking for oncoming bumps, and if nothings coming it will delay your pop up. It was my first trip with Kieran and Fisher here in Costa Rica that I was still popping up by paddling over waves and Kieren was beating me to every wave by coming up from seated.
Alright!!! So, you’re prone paddling. I like to chamber my paddle under my left shoulder, peck. I don’t think right/left matters, I just feel more comfortable there. I find I have great control of the paddle. No problem punching through waves. Also, as I talk about, it helps you assimilate in lineups. No one knows you’re a paddle surfer until you want to show them.
The first move to standing is grabbing the shaft of the paddle. I naturally do this after a stoke on the paddle side.
After you grab the paddle, you place both hands on the board near the rails, just like you’d get up riding a surfboard. It helps to have surfed with this pop up. The only thing that gives me an issue is at times I grab a bit of shirt, then you go to pop and your stuck to your board.
Notice here that the weight is coming forward, and your creating space for the front foot. You leverage your knees for that pop, and your back foot will come up first. You’ll be landing in surf stance, the goal is to have your weight a touch back on the board.
Back foot has found the board, knee outside of arm. This is very similar to the seated pop up we covered yesterday. If you didn’t read that yet, make sure you check it out now. Front foot comes straight through the arms.
Notice that your butt is down. You should always default to butt down, bend at the knees in all of surfing (or life really if you listen to Eric Goodman and Foundation Training. He’s coming back on the show next week!!! And has a new book out, True to Form.)
Wrong posture is one of the ugliest things in surfing. Ever watch someone trying to get barreled bending at the waist and trying to stick their head in the tube? Doesn’t look right. Go watch some Kelly Slater footage and notice where he bends.
Surf stance. Weight is back, tail low in the water. You’ll have a bit more time to get your paddle in the water with this pop up vs. the seated pop up because of the velocity you’ll have from paddling. The faster you paddle into the pop up, the more time you’ll have.
The first stroke is the most important. If you can get good stroke from your nose you should be fine from that point forward.
Now, if I were catching a wave here, I would just turn and go. Stance is perfect to take off.
But, since I’m paddling around, on the next stoke I move my back foot up. It requires less energy to stand in a more parallel stance and you have more reach on your stoke. Can also paddle both sides.
Now that we’ve got you up and paddling a smaller board, tomorrow I’ll tell you what to practice to get better faster!
Come see us in Costa Rica to work on this and really get your surfing dialed in! Check out our setup here.
Happy Saturday! Surf was pumping this morning, offshores and head high swell. Bigger on the sets. I took the monsters out (my kids) and they surfed for the first hour. It’s a cool perspective watching someone practice and improve over a long period of time.
Normally, when coaching, I get to spend an intense week with folks, then send them on their way. The goal isn’t so much to get better over the week, though it definitely happens, as it is to have you leave with the knowledge of what you need to do, and the steps to accomplish those goals over the next months of surfing.
While watching my monsters surf this morning I was thinking about an interesting conversation/debate happening with a group I coach… race to the bottom vs. reps on bigger boards. (more…)