Regardless of your surfing ability you will have, no doubt, had a session where nothing seems to be going your way. The good waves are not coming to you, every attempt at a turn ends in a bogged rail and simple skills, like the timing of your take-offs, end in a head-first trip over the falls. We've all been there. And when you're having an absolutely terrible surf it's hard to escape the anger, frustration, and negative attitude that inevitably sets in.
This is when you need to be able to find your reset button and salvage the session. The goal is to try to wash away the frustration you're feeling so you are in a better mental state for the rest of your surf.
THE RESET TECHNIQUE
When you realize your surf is going downhill try to take a couple of minutes to yourself. Sit on your board a long way out the back, take some deep breaths and let your muscles relax. Often, a session can start to go badly due to fatigue. If you're already having a bad surf, you tend to paddle for everything that moves and this will tire you out. So, sit out there for as long as it takes for your body to feel relaxed and rested and once you've achieved this, it's time to regroup.
Try to take your thoughts away from the nightmare session it's been so far. Be aware of how this negativity is affecting your session and if you can, let go of it. In the regroup phase your task is to take your mind off of what has just happened, if you can do this you will have achieved the biggest step in the reset process. You can train your brain to get faster at this over time once you find the right trigger.
Here are a couple of examples on how you can do this....
Look out to sea and focus on something else. Focusing on passing boats or sea birds will let your mind drift away from surfing for a while. Don't worry about the sets if you're still out the back, just let them slip by. Think about something completely different, something that makes you happy.
Chat To A Mate
Take your mind off the surf by having a bit of a chat with someone, try to talk about a non-surfing related subject like the football game yesterday (note this could lead to extra stress if your team lost), what went on last night at the bar (usually good for a few laughs), or even just the weather.
Find The Source
If you are struggling to reset, perhaps there is another issue that has been bothering you? Maybe there is a personal problem or stress from work that is clouding your mind? Find the source of your frustration and make a mental note to deal with it after your surf. The problem isn't going anywhere, but the swell and tides are...so surf now and sort out your life later! When your mind is well-rested after a fun surf, you'll be ready to take on the bigger problems in life.
Laugh At Yourself
Think about how ridiculous you are for getting angry at a sport that should be a fun escape from the stresses of real life and smile to yourself. Don't take it so seriously, everyone can have an "off" session and falling head-first over the falls can be quite hilarious to others, think of it as a crowd pleaser.
You should find when using these techniques that a few minutes will have passed where you haven't thought about surfing. Now your body is rested and your mind is regrouped, but you're just bobbing around like a buoy in the lineup getting no waves...it's time to refocus.
Think of the rest of your surf as a completely new event that you have the power to make into a positive experience. There are many factors in surfing that we do not have any control over - conditions, crowds etc. So for the rest of your session try to focus only on what you can control, like your wave selection and the choice of maneuvers to suit the conditions. Think about what you are going to do well for the rest of the session and how good it will feel when it all comes together. Hopefully by this point you will be prepared to paddle into the next good wave with a cool head and absolutely smash it!!
But If All Else Fails, Get Out!!
If you continue to have a bad session and you cant let go of the stress and frustration, it might be time to get out of the water.
Paddle in and take a break by enjoying some time on the beach. Rest. Grab a snack, chat with some friends, or simply lay back on the sand and relax. Regroup. Turn your back to the sea and forget about surfing for a while. Refocus. Gather up some positive thoughts and start thinking about your next surf session. When your mind is relaxed and positive, it's time to get back out there!
A Positive, Relaxed Mind State = Positive Results In The Water
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