Want to learn how to build your confidence in the water?
We’ve got you covered with our definitive guide to building your surf confidence so you can focus on enjoying surfing and levelling up your skills.
Let’s dive straight in with some of the techniques I used to help get over my anxiety in the surf.
Understanding The Ocean
Understanding your environment is key to letting you enjoy your time on a surfboard.
The first step in our guide is to familiarise yourself with how swell, tides, and wind affect your experience in the water.
Putting yourself in the right conditions will do wonders to help boost your confidence.
You’ll catch more waves, spend more time on your surfboard and get to grips with how set waves work.
Adversely, surfing in massive, messy waves will be a mental and physical slog that may leave you feeling defeated if you aren’t skilled enough to reach the lineup.
Head over to our simple guide on choosing the best surf spot for your skill level, which can teach you a simple method for ensuring you’re always on the best waves.
Bodysurfing is the perfect way of familiarising yourself with waves without the dangers of your surfboard nearby.
You can swim around in the breaking waves and try to use your body to catch and ride waves.
I like to use a hand plane to help, but you can do it without perfectly well.
Try to get used to the feeling of being tumbled around in a breaking wave, and you’d be amazed at how much it can assist with increasing your confidence when you get back on your board.
Get The Right Surfboard Under Your Feet
There’s nothing worse than being on the wrong surfboard for your size or skill level.
A beginner heading out for their first surf on a high-performance shortboard will do nothing but damage your confidence.
You won’t be able to catch waves properly, and your chances of successfully riding a wave are little to none.
Understand Surf Etiquette
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a telling-off in the water, you know it can really knock your confidence for the rest of the session and even beyond.
While some conflict in the waves is just down to unpleasant surfers, in many cases, it’s because someone is being a danger to themselves and others.
Surfing follows a fairly strict set of rules that helps everyone surf safely.
Breaking these rules can lead to anything from a stern word to a physical confrontation.
Save yourself the worry and head over to our definitive guide on surfing and etiquette to learn surfing’s golden rules.
Improve Your Swimming Fitness
Most of your time spent surfing will actually be time spent paddling.
Whether you’re a beginner surfer or a seasoned shredder, improving your paddle power and endurance is always good.
You’ll be surfing more, paddling quicker and catching more waves which will all compound to build confidence in your surfing.
Head to your local pool for some laps, or better yet, why not go for some sea swimming to really make the sea your comfort zone?
Extend Your Learning
Taking the time to learn more about the sport as a whole is going o make you a more confident surfer.
You can use helpful guides like these, surf edits, YouTube tutorials and much more to level up your surfing knowledge.
If you’re serious about developing your surfing, I highly recommend the guys over at Ombe Surf.
They’ve dedicated years of their lives to creating extensive video courses to help surfers like you improve their skills and confidence.
You can access their courses here, and they’ve got a 7-day free trial to test out some of the tutorials.
Your breathing is incredibly important, and improper breathing can make you anxious and agitated when you’re surfing.
Proper breathing has long been promoted as an effective strategy to increase athlete performance, and you can use those same techniques they use to help your surfing.
Let’s look at some simple breathing you can use to develop better breathing and confidence effectively.
1. Deep Belly Breathing
- Start by inhaling deeply through your nose, allowing your stomach to rise as you fill your lungs with air.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, letting your belly fall.
- This kind of breathing helps to decrease anxiety and increase oxygen flow to your muscles. It’s great to practice on the beach before hitting the waves or while waiting for the next set on your board.
2. Box Breathing
- Athletes and military personnel often use this technique to maintain calm and focus under pressure.
- To do this, inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and then hold your breath again for a count of four.
- This forms a “box” pattern, hence the name. Box breathing helps you to regulate your breath, lower your heart rate, and maintain calm.
3. Apnea Training
- This is more advanced and should be approached cautiously, but it’s awesome for helping surfers deal with wipeouts and being held under the water.
- Apnea training involves breath-holding exercises and can help increase your lung capacity and comfort with being underwater.
- But remember, always practice breath-holding exercises with a buddy and never in the water to avoid shallow water blackouts.
4. Breath Awareness Meditation
- Spend time focusing on your breath, feeling your chest’s in and out, the rise and fall.
- This kind of mindfulness can help you stay calm and focused in the water, increase your awareness of your body, and help you better manage any fears or anxieties.
Remember to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new breathing or exercise program. Stay stoked and stay safe!
Considering how confidence affects nearly every part of our lives, it’s no wonder that great surfers are confident surfers.
Hopefully, these handy tips can set you on a positive path of feeling comfortable in and around the waves.
Don’t miss our other helpful guides below, packed with over 20+ years of surfing experience ready to be shared.