Surfing: mansplaining is common practice in the lineup | Photo: Loiterton/Creative Commons

Surfers tend to think they perform better than they actually do.

But that's just human nature and applies to every aspect of our lives as social individuals.

Generally speaking, we are all better at pointing out others' flaws, faults, and deficiencies than assessing and improving ourselves.

Judgment is one of our most over-developed characteristics.

Whether we're watching a pro surfer in the heat or someone tearing a wave to bits in front of us, there's always something wrong or could be improved.

The problem is when we decide to share our thoughts and experiences with others in the form of a condescending lesson or tip.

This free, unrequested wave-riding consultancy-style advice may be authentic, honest, and truly helpful, but the receiver could not be open or interested in it.

Despite the consistent changes witnessed in the 21st century, surfing is still a sexist sport.

The male surfer's inclination for mansplaining women in the lineup is out there all over the world, in crowded and secluded spots.

But the surf professor that exists in all of us is sometimes stronger than our own insignificance. And so we open our mouths when we are supposed to keep it shut.

Surfing: there are several ways of blocking unrequested surf coaching in the lineup | Photo: Loiterton/Creative Commons

Tips to Keep Surfsplaining Away

Dealing with unsolicited surf advice and coaching from random surfers can be challenging, especially when the person is persistent and potentially aggressive.

So, what could you do to keep surfing on your own without getting gratuitous tips on how to improve your wave-riding skills?

Here are some polite and passive ways to handle such situations:

  1. Wear Ear Plugs: Wearing surf earplugs can be a subtle way to indicate that you're not open to conversation. When the person starts talking, you can point to your earplugs and mention that you can't hear well because you're wearing them;
  2. Express Gratitude and Disinterest: When the fellow surfer offers advice, respond with a simple "Thank you" or "I appreciate that" without engaging further. Follow it up by stating that you prefer to focus on your own experience and enjoy the waves without too much external input;
  3. Engage with Humor: Inject humor into your responses to deflect tension, lighten the mood, and discourage persistent behavior. For example, you can use the excuse of learning from your own mistakes by saying something like, "Hey, I've got a PhD in wipeouts planned! No need for the unsolicited advice - I'm taking the scenic route to surf wisdom." or "I've decided to become a connoisseur of epic fails in surfing. Save the advice for my success party – or should I say, wipeout celebration?" or even "I'm embracing the 'Do It Yourself' surfing method. No advice needed – just me, the waves, and a spectacular collection of faceplants!";
  4. Use Sarcasm: Repeat what the person is telling you to someone else nearby or use absurd statements like "You can't tell me what to do; you're not my real dad!" could be effective;
  5. Repeat Responses: If the person persists, you can calmly repeat a generic response, such as "I'll keep that in mind, thanks," without committing to implementing the advice. Repetition may signal that you're not interested in further discussion;
  6. Paddle Away Politely: If the person paddles toward you in the water, you can make a hand gesture indicating a stop sign and say, "Not today," in a calm yet assertive tone. This sets boundaries without escalating the situation;
  7. Express Intent to Have Fun: Politely let the person know that you're just there to have fun, not seeking improvement or coaching. A statement like, "I'm just doing my own thing and having fun. I don't care what I look like," can deter further unsolicited advice;
  8. Use Non-Engagement Techniques: If the person is aggressive or potentially mentally unwell, non-engagement techniques, such as not making eye contact, staring into the ocean, or paddling away quietly, can help avoid confrontations;
  9. Suggest Coaching Outside the Water: If the person persists and you feel safe, consider addressing the issue directly outside the water. Express that you appreciate their intent but prefer to enjoy surfing without constant advice. Suggest that they seek certification if they enjoy coaching;
  10. Seek Support from Other Locals: If the person continues to bother you, seek support from other locals, especially those who may have observed the behavior. Having allies in the lineup can discourage the person from singling you out;

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