We all want to get better and learn more tricks! Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way from my lifelong obsession with water sports.
1. Learn riding fundamentals first!
I can’t stress this enough, you need to learn to walk before you can run. There are many fundamental beginner tricks and techniques that a majority of recreational riders overlook. If you want to stick that 360 consistently you will want to take a few steps back, get comfortable riding, and master the prerequisites.
Dylan Ayala has great videos on his youtube about getting the fundamentals dialed, he has the best surf style coaching techniques and philosophies I’ve come across.
2. A solid wave
A good wave is one with a clean face, decent size, firm lip, and adequate length to set up for tricks and recovery. As a larger than average, middle aged guy I learned nearly all my tricks on an old 2004 Tige 22V, it’s far from huge but was more than enough for me to learn consistent 360s, airs, and dial in the fundamentals.
Any mid 2000+ V drive with a few thousand lbs of ballast and shaper should be sufficient.
One note, I did own direct drives for many years, while I wasn’t as serious as surfing back then they did hold back my progression due to the inadequate waves.
Unless you’re at a pro or competitive level having a 200K+ boat with a 30’ long wave won’t make you a better rider.
3. Time on the water
Practice, practice, practice! Practice, repetition, and muscle memory are essential if you want to take your riding to the next level. The skill progression gap from dropping the rope to sticking 360s every time is huge.
Consistency is key, if you really want to get better you need to go at least twice a week with a minimum of two sets in good water.
Pros and competitive riders are going out nearly daily. I know some people that surf twice a day.
The people I know that are serious about progression are putting at least 100 hours a year on their boats. I’ve heard of some guys putting 400+ hours in a season! I’m out surfing at least 2-4 days a week from Mid-March to Mid-Nov in Utah.
4. Get Coaching!
This is much overlooked. A few hours with a pro will take you to a higher level. I’ve had some coaching sessions and they’ve helped my riding substantially. I’m due for another session to help dial in some tricks I’m after.
It also helps to link up with local riders who are better than you, many are more than happy to share the stoke. I love progression sessions with friends where everybody is encouraging each other to ride their best.
5. Smooth water
Smooth water provides a consistent wave that is needed to learn tricks. It’s very difficult to get better If you’re riding in the middle of the lake on a Saturday, in chop, wind, and with a half dozen other boats trying to surf. I primarily get my surfing done early in the morning and I’m off the lake by the time the tubes come out.
6. A properly sized board
A quality, properly sized board that matches your skill level and riding style is key. There is no silver bullet, the board plays a much smaller part than the rider’s skill and ability. Nearly all wakesurf boards are capable of spinning 360s and catching airs.
7. Get into the Jedi mindset
If you’re 12 White Claws deep when you surf, odds are you’re not going to take your riding to the next level. Study the pros riding on Instagram, take note of their body position and what they’re doing. YouTube is an awesome resource as well.
8. Get in shape
In order to catch high airs and surf long sets you need to be strong and in shape. I stretch before I ride and could use some additional strengthening myself. Watch the young pros, they are explosive and in amazing shape that’s how they go huge.
9. Set Goals
What do you want to accomplish and what steps are needed to learn that trick? Most tricks are broken down into multiple parts with a fundamental base. I like to watch Youtube videos of the CWSA Masters Surf riders because I feel they are doing tricks I can aspire and relate to. I don’t want to compete but I like to continuously push myself.
If i’m in a rut or not riding well I ride my skim style board as I’m primarily a surf style rider. Try to have fun and do weird stuff on your board when you need a break from progression sessions.
Don’t forget to practice riding backside and switch as well.
Every year I get better and learn more tricks, even at the age of 47 I’m getting after it. If I can do it, you can as well!
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