Mental Strength & Surf Performance

Just more strength and endurance?

That’s all you need to improve your surfing, right? Nope.

Don’t get me wrong you absolutely need to up your physical conditioning and mobility.

But you need to get your head right:

Over the past 15 years the best increases in surf performance I’ve seen in clients is when they commit to getting their body and head right, out of the water.

Why? Let me ask you this. On average, what is your mood like if you haven’t surfed in a while? What about not surfing during a stretch when it’s firing?A bit irritable are we? Yeah I know that well (My wife knows it even more).

Nothing completely replaces what surfing does for us

Surfing is our way of life it's in our blood. But what if I told you when you have to be out of the water you could gain a bit of the clarity, calmness, and stoke that comes from surfing?

Think about it. A way to improve your focus and attitude that is completely up to you. Not dependent on the swell, wind, tide or being in a specific spot at a specific time.

Mindfulness What Is It?

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – John Lennon

So true. Our humanness makes us constantly pine for the past or worry about the future. When really the only thing we have is NOW.

This is at the core of what surfing gives us. That is its true gift. For our purposes let's define mindfulness as presence.

Here’s the awesome part, as a surfer, you already have tremendous experience in mindfulness. Sticking the late drop, getting covered up, scratching for the horizon on a clean up set. These are but a fraction of the thousands upon thousands of mindfulness moments we acquire over years of surfing.

You can’t be anywhere else or worried about anything else to surf. Let alone do it well. You must live in that exact moment.

Mindfulness Practice

All you need to start:

  • 5-10 minutes
  • Comfortable place to sit is ideal but anywhere is better than not at all
  • Solid commitment
  • Practice patience (give yourself a chance to improve or you’ll quit before you get started)

Follow These Steps


Set a timer

Mindfulness and clock-watching don’t exactly go together, set a timer on your phone or computer.

Ideally, you’ll be setting it for five minutes to ten minutes—enough time to take a break without being missed—but the exact length of time is up to you.

It doesn’t matter if you practice for 30 seconds or 20 minutes: just choose a time that feels right.


Ground yourself

This practice is most effective when you can either sit or lie down to replenish your energy.

It doesn’t matter where you choose to do this, as long as the location is comfortable enough for your practice.

If you choose to sit, be in a comfortable a chair with your feet firmly rooted and in contact with the ground and your hands placed on your thighs or folded in your lap.

Like I said before though anywhere is better than nowhere. Don't let location or less than perfect conditions be an excuse not to practice.

Hint: There is no perfect


Check posture

Slouching isn’t known for its revitalising properties, so take a moment to check your posture before you begin.


If you’re sitting, try to keep your back as straight as possible, without tensing up.

Make sure your shoulders, neck and jaw are relaxed, and do a quick mental scan over the rest of your body to check for any pockets of tension.


Decide on eyes

While practicing, you can keep your eyes closed or open.

If you have a private space, you might prefer to close them; if you’re sitting in the middle of a busy office, however, you might prefer to keep them open.

When practicing with your eyes open, find one point about three feet in front of you and focus on that throughout the practice (you can also stare at a single point on the base of your computer if this helps you practice unnoticed at work).

Whether you choose eyes closed or open, stick with that method throughout the practice.

FREE Surf Fit Blueprint


Focus on breath

Start your timer and bring your focus to your breathing. Don’t try to change your breath or adopt any pattern that feels unnatural (you’re going to be doing this for up to five minutes so your breath needs to be sustainable).

Simply notice how your breathing feels right now: is it particularly shallow or uneven?

Can you find a way to breathe deeply and regularly that feels natural?


Notice attention

The biggest block to your five-minute practice will be yourself—or, more specifically, your mind. 

Once you start focusing on your breath, your mind will sense a gap in your thoughts, and will try to plug it as quickly as possible with more thoughts.

If you notice yourself getting caught up in a train of thought, simply bring your attention back to your breath.

It doesn’t matter how many times this happens (and it will get easier with practice); each time you notice yourself running away with thoughts and stories, simply return to the breath and focus on each inhale and exhale until your timer goes off.

That's it

No complicated visualisations, no chanting, simply a chance to connect with yourself.

Set a time, find a place, check your posture, focus on your breath, and enjoy five or more well-deserved minutes to yourself.

Josh Beckett Winemaker
Joe Kehoe Arborist
Jeff Hurt General Contractor
Nick Bryden University Administrator
Elliot Johnson Photographer

My stamina and paddling are really improved and that allows me to surf longer and stronger

I've noticed a big difference in really two main things. One is my pre-surf warm up gets my body loose and ready to surf. I feel like I'm not step-tripping over to myself as much. Doing those dumb falls that just waste a bunch of waves.

Second my stamina and paddling are really improved and that allows me to surf longer and stronger.

I'm surfing better now than when I was in my mid-20s

Biggest thing I noticed is lower back pain and knee pain is pretty much non-existent now. I'm about 35 now and feel like I'm surfing better and getting through my daily life easier than I was in my mid-20s and I really appreciate it.

Most of my aches and pains have gone away

One thing I've noticed is my platform for surfing is great. My conditioning is the best it's ever been. I have a good warmup program to do before I head out to go surfing and for my everyday life.

I'm a general contractor and my work can give me a lot of aches and pains, but since I've started with Surf Strong Fitness most have gone away.

Really added an extra gear to my surfing

What I've noticed is the program has just really added an extra gear to my surfing. I just feel like I've been surfing a lot faster, getting up and generating speed.

We do a lot of fine tuning of balance and muscles. I've just been so much more aware of my body positioning. It's been amazing.

Daily aches and pains have pretty much gone away

I'm pushing 45-years-old, just had lots of daily aches and pains especially in my back. I was kind of hesitant to start. I'd never done a surf specific workout before. I was a little nervous that it might not be for me, but I've noticed pretty quickly into the workouts that those daily aches and pains have pretty much just gone away.

Greg Finch

About the author

Father, husband, trainer, entrepreneur, and surfer. It's his mission to keep surfers strong and stoked in the water till their last beat.

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