Wholesale surfing: mental preparation

20 February 2015 | Inside


"You don't measure the size of the waves by how big they are, but by how scared you are when they stand in front of you.

But how do you surf big waves? To answer this question, Noé, a coach and mental trainer, gives us some tips...

To surf big waves, it's more than just "go for it". You have to be concentrated, in full possession of your means and above all confident. Confidence in yourself but also in those who are with you and who are there in case of an accident. You have to learn to adapt to critical situations where your life is in danger. We have to overcome the brakes that we may have on death as well. We sometimes talk about instinct, anticipation and decision-making.

Surfing big waves is a state of mind, a way of looking at surfing and extreme sports in general. You can compare it to those who ski down slopes in the most dangerous places in the world, to mountaineers climbing the highest peaks in the world. They are not just trained, they live it every day, this little thing that is stronger than anything. And that's why we admire them!

Here, the experience of each person matters a lot because we will not all have the same vision of things. For some, surfing big waves is 1.50 m/2 m for others it is more than 4 m. The world of Big Waves Riders is a world apart. True big wave surfers are surfers who live for big emotions. They know the risks and are willing to pay a high price.

Grant Baker (BWWT World Champion) told us: "My mental preparation is directly linked to my physical preparation. The fitter I am the better I am in my head. So, I train hard to be in the best shape possible and my mental state follows."

In extreme sports, such as big wave surfing, the mind is obviously at the centre of the activity. How can we not think about it when our lives are at stake? We talk about stress, fear, self-confidence, being sure of ourselves, not thinking... So many terms that we find in the interviews that are part of the mental aspect. Having the physical skills to surf these monsters the majority of riders, with a lot of training can do it. But then there are those who go and those who never go. The difference is in the mind. "Not only were you riding down this mountain but the mountain is chasing after you and you need to figure out how to escape the mountain but also use it. Riding Giant

The mind, like any ability, requires training. The mind encompasses the management of energy (tension...), emotions (stress, positive and negative emotions...), self-esteem, motivation, self-confidence and concentration. The most difficult thing is to bring together, in an emotionally complicated situation, all the skills to make the right decision and to make the right move.

We often talk about not having emotions. Today, despite many obstacles linked to beliefs, emotion is central to good decision-making and studies by Damasio have proven this. Yoga, golf, meditation, sophrology are many tools used. However, the mind goes beyond that and the surfer must learn to manage his emotions.

Surfing big waves is not only about being able to do it, it's also about wanting to do it and mentally training yourself to manage your emotions, your stress, so that in case of an extreme situation, you have the resources to recruit the right emotion, to focus on the right field of action, to take the right decision that will surely offer the biggest adrenaline shot to the surfer.

The preparation of surfers before that made people smile, the old ones were content to go for it and laugh when we spoke to them about "training". Now, physical preparation has become a way of life, but mental preparation still needs to be developed.

You are now ready to surf the Pipeline (or not) :)

For more information you can contact Noé or be inspired by the documentary SINE QUA NON and films like Chasing Mavericks and Riding Giants.

Dreaming of a fatty trip? Book it here. So, fellow riders, go to our Facebook or Twitter to follow all our news ;)

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