Surfing is a dynamic sport that requires the use of just about every muscle your body has to use.
Although endurance and physical strength are both important aspects of surfing, your balance and center of gravity will be a cornerstone of your surfing, as you cannot surf efficiently without decent balance.
Why Do Surfers Need Balance?
Without good balance, you will find it extremely difficult to stand up and remain standing on your surfboard.
Furthermore, paddling requires a large amount of core strength to keep yourself on the board and keep your surfboard heading in your chosen direction.
Throughout this article, we will take a look at the importance of having a good balance as a surfer and what you can do to improve yours.
What Is Balance?
According to the Cambridge dictionary, the definition of balance is as follows: “a state where things are of equal weight or force.”
In other words, when an object is balanced, its center of gravity is directly below it, thus equally distributing the weight of the object.
As an example, when you stand straight up with your legs straight and your torso inline, you will feel strong and stable.
Lean too far forward, however, and you will throw off your balance, thus resulting in you falling over.
How Important Is It to Have a Good Balance as a Surfer?
Having a good sense of balance and a sturdy core is important in most sports, but when it comes to surfing, this is even more important.
Just as with skateboarding, while surfing, you need to keep your feet on your board and your board beneath your feet. Without this combo, you will find yourself eating sand in no time.
Unlike skateboarding, however, surfing comes with the added challenge of two surfaces that create very little friction (the water and fiberglass on the underside of your surfboard).
This can make your surfboard seem looser than a skateboard does.
Although using the correct fins on your board will make a huge difference, if you don’t have good balance, the frictionless surfaces will leave you wobbling all the way along the face of the wave.
To summarize, without balance, you can not successfully surf.
How Do Surfers Balance?
Balance, in many ways, comes down to training, a natural ability, and overall muscle endurance and strength.
Yes, a strong core will indeed aid with your balance, but your legs, glutes, as well as your upper body all, affect how well you can maintain your center of gravity.
To maintain their balance, surfers use a non-slip surface on their surfboards, such as surf wax or a traction pad.
This ensures that they don’t slip while standing.
Secondly, surfers crouch and maintain a low center of gravity which allows them to remain sturdy on their surfboard.
In theory, the lower you are, the stronger your center of gravity. That being said, you are low, but not centered, your balance will be off, and you will quickly find yourself falling over.
That being said, getting low and crouching in a centered position is sometimes easier said than done, as it requires different types of balance to surf successfully.
Many people think of balance as balance; however, this is not entirely true.
Surfing uses three main types of balance, and when these skills are out of balance, you will find it difficult to stand and remain standing on your surfboard.
1. Dynamic Balance
Dynamic balance refers to the ability to maintain your position while moving. These movements can be such as walking, running, throwing something, and yes, surfing.
While surfing, when you paddle, popup, and carve, you use a dynamic balance to maintain your center of gravity.
As long as the balance is held while making a movement, it can be considered dynamic.
2. Anticipatory Balance
Anticipatory balance, as the name suggests, is the small, automatic adjustments that your body makes before repositioning.
For example, when picking up something that you assume to be heavy, you pick it up with more strength than is required which results in you swinging your arms into the air.
This is because of the natural adjustment your body makes for the task.
When surfing, anticipatory balance is used when watching the wave patterns, and getting ready for changes in the patterns, as well as changes on a wave while you ride.
3. Transitional Balance
Transitional balance is used for stability in between movements.
This is important for surfing to maintain a flow while riding your surfboard and not create jagged and sharp movements.
After all, surfing is all about flow, especially when you are surfing a point break.
Why Should You Improve Your Balance for Surfing?
Balance training has countless benefits for your surfing, some of which are mentioned below.
- Enhances coordination, balance, and your neuromuscular function
- Develops and maintains your sensory feedback system which in turn increases efficiency in muscular movements in a variety of activities.
- Improves muscle strength and stability which improves posture as well as higher endurance levels while surfing.
- Creates an awareness in the body and its positioning which aids in all surfing dynamics.
How to Improve Your Balance for Surfing
The best way to improve your surfing balance is by surfing, as well as performing a mixture of dynamic, and static balancing exercises.
Although it can seem like a never-ending task when you are trying to improve your balance, by sticking to a regular training program with a few of the following exercises, you will see your balance and your surfing improve in no time.
9 Different Ways to Improve Your Balance
1. Balance with Your Eyes Closed
A lot of our balance comes from our ears and eyes. When we can focus on level land, it becomes easier for us to balance.
When we take away our vision, we need to spend a lot more time concentrating on our body and how it feels.
Doing this will make you more aware of how your body feels as it sways around and thus teaches you where your perfect center is.
If you find this too easy, you can add some difficulty by slowly lifting one leg while your eyes remain closed.
2. Pistol Squats
Pistol Squats are a great way to improve balance as well as strength.
Pistol squats are much the same as regular squats but with a single leg extended out in front of you.
This can be difficult at first, both because of the balance, as well as strength in your legs, but over time you will notice how you shake less.
This is because your core is working hard to maintain your balance as you lower and lift yourself.
3. Squat Jumps
Squat jumps are performed the same as regular squats. However, instead of slowly straightening your legs, you should perform an explosive, jumping movement, throwing your hands above your head as you make some air.
Doing a dynamic movement like this trains stabilizing muscles around your core and your legs and glutes.
4. Dynamic Bridging
Bridging is an amazing way to build strength in your core; however, its static nature does not coincide well with the dynamic movements of surfing.
This is why performing dynamic bridging exercises is best.
One dynamic bridge exercise can be done from a regular bridging position (forearms on the floor).
From here, with one arm at a time, you can place your palms on the floor and raise yourself to a push-up position.
Lower yourself, and repeat.
Make sure to keep your torso and shoulders level with the floor while you do this and you will quickly notice where you are weakest.
Skateboarding and surfing have a lot in common, especially when we speak about longboarding.
Skating is an amazing way to improve your balance for surfing, as you will find yourself in many of the same positions while riding a skateboard.
The advantage of skateboarding is that you don’t need to wait for the swell and weather conditions to be right before you practice.
Add some skateboarding into your life, and you will notice an almost instant improvement in your surfing balance.
Similar to tightrope walking, slacklining requires an immense amount of balance, coordination, and concentration.
Sticking a slackline up between two trees and playing on it for an hour or two a day will add diversity to your life and train your core like non-other.
7. Balance Board
Balance boards have become popular and are often related to surfers.
Using a balance board is not only fun, challenging, and convenient, but it will teach you a lot about balance and using your center of gravity.
Although the movements on a balance board are not the same as on a surfboard, because a balance board is so dynamic, it helps you train in a variety of positions, some of which you may find yourself in while surfing.
Yoga is one of the most beneficial practices for any athlete. It improves your strength, coordination, flexibility, and overall balance.
Yoga is a gentle, slow approach to improving your balance, which is perfect for strengthening muscles that are lagging behind the rest.
Not only will yoga improve your balance, but the added flexibility will reduce your risk of injury, and your newfound strength and endurance will allow you to surf for longer than ever before.
There is no better way to get better at something than by practicing that something you want to be better at.
In other words, if you want to improve your balance for surfing, the best thing you can do is to surf more.
Although there are many exercises and practices that will help, nothing will mimic surfing better than surfing itself, and therefore nothing will train you for surfing as well as regular surf sessions.
Surfing is a sport that requires you to stand and remain standing on a small board while riding along a frictionless surface.
This makes surfing unstable, which requires significant balance to pull off successfully.
Without balance, surfers would not be able to stand on their surfboards, nor would they be able to paddle with enough efficiency to get past the break or catch a wave.
Even if you are the strongest man in the world and fit enough to run a marathon, without a strong center of gravity and sturdy balance, you will find surfing a seemingly impossible task.