Kelly Slater: listening to four heat tactics at the same time

The best pro surfers in the world couldn't survive in a competitive circuit without heat tactics. Strategy, mind games and self-confidence play crucial roles in professional surfing.

There's too much at stake when you're trying to ride the best waves. Money, glory, points and potential future sponsors.

A successful surfer has preferences while competing in a man-on-man or four-man heat format. There are three grand blocks of surf strategies: psychological, wave selection and time management. Each is relevant and may be utilized simultaneously.

Tuning the mind, as revealed in Richard Bennett's "The Surfers Mind", is a key training tool that every pro wave rider should carefully develop. Many surfers don't understand why their first heats are radically worse than the following ones.

Surf psychology can also be applied to the opponent. Snaking, smiling, staring, and yelling can all be effective if you know exactly what you're doing and who you're trying to unnerve.

Wave selection is also often used to fire up the nerves of surf opponents. Some surfers tend to score the maximum possible points in the early moments of the heat in order to put pressure on a rival surfer's shoulder.

Also, when holding a priority, a surfer may give the idea he is paddling for a wave he wants, but then he pulls out in the last second leaving his opponent confused. The "indie" surfer is the one who chooses a totally different peak and waits patiently for his or her million dollar wave. Domination of the peak is also a very common tactical surf move. It builds confidence and raises instability in the opponent's mind.

Surfers may surf very many or very few waves, depending on how they decide to most effectively show their skills in order to impress judges or opponents in the lineup. Family, friends and brand managers also play important roles. Some pro surfers prefer to be alone before a heat, while others seek words of comfort and confidence from their close peers.

Praying and stretching before hitting the water are also ways of finding yourself before the match of your life. While paddling out, surfers talk to themselves and inject self-confidence.

Is there a winning surf tactic formula? Absolutely not, but if you balance all of these variables with your inner talent and developed skills, you will be mentally and physically fit to battle for victory in every heat. Add yoga poses, surf food and special workouts to keep building the chances of emerging victorious.