Self-Belief Starts With Finishing
An essential ingredient in good surfing is self-belief. Belief where a surfer knows they are capable of handling the surf conditions and waves they choose to ride. A major contributing factor towards developing self-belief is a surfer’s finishing success, or success rate.
“Success rate” is an estimate of how successful a surfer is when finishing during their surf session. For example, when a surfer takes off on a wave, a successful result is only achieved when they have successfully performed their final manoeuvre, followed by a controlled kick-out. A successfully finished wave is added to other successful finishes to give the surfer a success rate for an entire session.
The way to judge success rate is to work out a percentage for successfully completed waves, compared to waves where the surfer wipes-out or finishes with an incomplete manoeuvre. So if a surfer successfully finished 6 waves, but rode 12, their success rate would be 50%. It’s not important to get an accurate figure, but more to get a sense of whether they are a surfer whose self-belief is being compromised by having a low success rate. And if it is low, then that is definitely an area the surfer should consider working on.
Successful surfers I have trained rarely fall-off their surfboards. Their attitude is something like “falling is like sinning”. They don’t want to do it and are highly motivated to successfully ride their waves for their full functional length. If you do see them falling, it’s only after they have fought hard to stay on their surfboards. In my opinion, this underlying commitment to remaining balanced when finishing is the foundation of their considerable surfing and competition success.
Underpinning a high success rate is good surfing technique and good “wave usage” decisions made while riding waves. Unfortunately, many surfers dream of being the next Kelly Slater, with them daily busting airs and sliding the tail, most often performed unsuccessfully. What they don’t understand is that Kelly’s surfing is based around his bottom turn, and this bottom turn is the major contributor to his unequaled success, just like the other top pros, Mick, Joel, and Jordy.
Don’t get me wrong, Slater and others has been great for the sport, pushing performance levels to new heights, but there is a “dark side” to this influence. That is, the success and therefore the self-belief of many surfers is being compromised by the too-early emphasis on futuristic moves. The development of the basics such as a solid bottom turn and compressed finishes are being ignored, limiting the ultimate potential of the surfer.
So how do you increase your success rate? Simple, make it a daily goal to finish all waves with a quality manoeuvre followed by a controlled kick-out. Doing it daily, makes it a habit – a great habit to increase a surfer’s self-belief and long-term development in the sport.