Advanced surfing comes with time and innumerable hours of wave riding. The most experienced surfers in the world have ridden thousands of waves in multiple ocean conditions.
Whether you're a free surfer or a competitive surfer, you're always trying to improve your surfing. Choosing the right wave, paddling efficiently, eyeing the aerial ramp, pumping for speed, completing a new trick - all essential advanced skills.
Intermediate surfers can easily reach a high level of surfing. The advanced chapter is only a matter of steady steps. Details are keys to a better performance. What are the secrets to advanced surfing, then?
1. Learn to pick the right wave. For a beginner, all waves are the same: the bigger, the better. Advanced surfers know how a wave will be breaking. Watch for the highest sections, when a wave appears on the horizon. Remember: if the wave line is leveled, it will be closing out. Also, take a look at the back of the wave as it passes you, and check how it breaks.
2. Fine-tune the position on the peak. After watching where the wave is breaking more, make a few calculations, keeping in mind your take-off time and the speed of the wave. Sometimes half a meter (20 inches) to your right or left may decide the fate of your ride.
3. Eye your target. After taking off, your eyes are your steering wheel. Move your head towards your next goal. Set a target with your eyes and get there fast.
4. Keep a low center of gravity. Try to maintain a low center of gravity in the surf line by bending your knees. Staying low will increase your stability and will help you gain speed.
5. Paddle with nearly-closed fingers. It is a detail, but it works. Paddling out and paddling for waves require strength and lungs. When you nearly close your fingers, you'll save energy and improve paddling power.
6. Check the time period between waves. Surf watches are great to confirm wave period. By getting simple, statistical information on the line-up, you'll know when the set comes and if the first wave of the set is the best one. (It often is.)
7. Adjust your feet while riding the wave. If you're surfing with static feet, there's something wrong. When you attack the lip of the wave, try to move your back foot to the tail of the surfboard so that you can turn it fast.
8. Set one goal and improve it. Completing one surf maneuver is better than almost completing three tricks. Focus on one goal and only change your commitment when it is successfully completed.
9. Manage the wave face timing. After completing your bottom turn, your eyes will grab an image of what's ahead. Keep analyzing what is happening on the wave to make decisions in real-time.
10. Watch wave videos in slow motion. Surf movies and surf videos are great to learn from in order to get to advanced surfing levels. From the take-off to the aerial landing moment, there are always interesting details to watch; then try for yourself.
11. Analyze your mistakes. Surfers are not robots. We make mistakes. Professionals make mistakes. After failing to complete an easy trick, don't judge yourself. Try to understand what you did wrong. The chances of repeating that mistake in the future will be smaller.
12. Broaden the working area on the wave face. Get your performances to higher levels with bottom-to-top and top-to-bottom surfing. Extend the wave face area in which you complete your roundhouse cutback and snap off the top, with extreme bottom turns and over-the-lip tail slides.
13. Pick the right surfboard for the right wave. With two or three surfboards, advanced surfers have wider choices for specific wave types. Additionally, get the right fin setup for a determined ocean condition to surf with the best possible stick under your feet.
14. Focus on rail-to-rail surfing. Work your rail-to-rail performance in a wave to get the most out of each ride. Advanced surfers are never quiet. Rail-to-rail surfing requires balance, speed and wave face management.
15. Learn how waves are formed. Knowledge and science will help you make decisions when out in the line-up. Physics and oceanography play a critical role in modern surfing. Advanced surfers are informed watermen. Know how waves are formed and what is wind.