China: mental skills are the biggest advantage of the Chinese Olympic surfing team | Photo: ISA

The Chinese are doing whatever it takes to make waves in Olympic surfing.

According to Dris Mi, one of the head coaches of China's Olympic surfing team, talent has nothing to do with what will make them successful.

"Their mental skills are their biggest advantage," Mi told

"Talent has little to do with progress and achievement. Growth is a result of intentional practice and hard work."

"That's how these young Chinese surfers have made progress. It was never through talent."

The professional mindset and performance coach started working with one of the national Chinese surfing teams from Hainan Island in March 2019.

Dris Mi describes them now as the most motivated and hardworking athletes he has ever met.

When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) added surfing as an official event for the 2020 Olympics, China was among the countries that quickly formed their official surfing teams.

Qui Zhuo: one of the most talented Chinese surfers | Photo: ISA

The Chinese Wave Pool

Since then, the country has invested heavily in employing elite level training and facilities, including a $26 million wave pool patterned after the famous Surf Ranch designed by Kelly Slater.

After their initial consultation on their goals and challenges, Dris assessed the teams' skill level to see if they were the right fit and observed how they approached their surf training.

What he found was a high level of eagerness and potential and had no hesitation in supporting them.

"The team's discipline was exemplary. These kids have been nothing but dedicated and committed to their training," adds Dris Mi.

All the techniques and routines Dris introduced were executed.

The coach changed the way they approach their surf training holistically - from morning routines, surf training systems, fitness drills, and nutrition.

Lin Shanshan: the Chinese has already competed in the ISA World Surfing Games | Photo: ISA

It's All In the Mind

Overall, classes were heavily focused on the mindset of an athlete.

Coach Dris introduced concepts such as growth mindset and fixed mindset, goal-setting strategies, and negative self-talk and its impact on performance.

"They have shown great commitment to their training," stresses the coach.

"They had a 360-degree practice: surf performance training, fitness, breathwork, theory classes, video analysis, sports psychology, and mental strength practices, gratitude journaling, mobility drills, skateboarding, and not once have they faltered."

"The training has been grueling, but nothing is more fulfilling than seeing these young surfers grow professionally."

"And the mindset goes above everything. It's been said again and again that sport is 90 percent mental. This is not an exaggerated statement."

"An athlete's mind is the key to the ultimate performance. Staying motivated to train despite adversities and the ability to make quick decisions while being under pressure, cope with injuries, and maintain sportsmanship - these all depend on the athlete's mental skills."

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