- 15 February 2011 | Surfing
Surf fear. Who hasn't experienced it yet? Everyone dreams of surfing a giant 30-foot wave, in Hawaii, Jaws, Mavericks, Todos Santos or Teahupoo, but sometimes fear simply drives your body away from it.
Having fear is normal. When you have fear of something, your body and mind protect yourself from what is supposed to be a danger or menace. It's a natural instinct of defense and survival. There are many fears associated with surfing and wave sports.
The most common surf fear is wave height. We fear to ride big waves for three reasons: the pure and "simple" wipe-out from the top of a giant wall of water, the chance of hitting a reef or a rocky bottom and drowning or the loss of breath.
These surfing fears are very often compiled into one: duck diving several set waves, while paddling to the line-up. As we've experienced a few bad experiences, our memory tends to recall them to issue a warning. Fear is always building layers, unless we battle or manage them efficiently.
A smaller number of surfers refer the fear of sharks, storms, lightning, currents and localism and being hit by surfboards as part of their inner surf demons.
There are some tricks that can be rehearsed to reduce fear of big waves. A good idea is to go swimming, instead of surfing. The process of getting used to a scenario helps you build confidence. The feeling you get 15 minutes after playing around big waves is completely different from the one you get when you arrive at the beach. Why? Because you got used to the environment.
Another way of fighting the surf ghosts of the past is by trying positive visualization, a technique of building strong positive emotions. Whether you're already in the line-up or just dressing your wetsuit, try to imagine yourself successfully surfing a big wave. Repeat the process as many times as you can.
One thing is certain. There is no pressure. You have all the time in the world to ride a 4-foot, then a 6-foot, a 10-foot and finally a 20-foot wave. Surfing is supposed to be an enjoyable sport. Take your time, build your own confidence and train rides by levels.
Then, you'll know. Go for it. No fear.