Surfing: you'll need more than skills to become a great surfer | Photo: Shutterstock

There are many surfers in the world, but few achieve excellence. What does it take to be one of the best?

Excelling at any art is a combined effort of body and mind.

Achieving the top is also a crafty path made of natural talent, luck, and very hard work.

It's not enough to just be good: you have to overcome your fears and limitations to achieve your true potential.

When we speak of great surfers, not only their brilliant performances but also their exceptional qualities as men come to mind.

Surfing may seem like a solitary sport.

Still, it requires considerable social skills, as there are rules to the sport regarding social and physical contact with other surfers and beachgoers.

For example, localism and crowded lineups can be particularly hard to handle.

Being a surfer also implies a deep respect for Mother Nature.

A surfer is a natural spokesperson for the ocean and an advocate for its conservation, especially nowadays, in the face of increasing ocean pollution.

As you can see, it takes more than just a few moves to count yourself among the very best. Here are seven traits of an exemplar surfer:

1. Technical Excellence

This is obviously the first and most important step. From here on, the other attributes represent the fine line that separates the good from the great.

Surfing is a sport, so performance is critical.

A naturally talented surfer can become even better by thoroughly investing in improving their moves and responsibly overcoming physical and psychological limitations.

Research, learn from the best, train consistently, and remember that there is always room for improvement.

Surfer: achieving the top is also a crafty path | Photo: Shutterstock

2. Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy body is the perfect foundation for building your performance.

Sleeping and eating well, working out regularly, or meditating create the perfect conditions to achieve your true potential.

The best surfers know this, so they invest in exercises specifically adjusted to their physical needs, eat healthy foods, rest well, and also work on their minds to stay sharp, focused, and motivated.

3. Resilience

The sea can sometimes be daunting, so surfing naturally demands you to be brave.

But more than brave, you have to be resilient, as there are ups and downs in the sport that require focus and mental strength to be overcome.

Keep it up, despite the occasional bad experiences, and you will grow stronger.

4. Honesty

There are no shortcuts to success. Play by the rules, and lead by example.

If you want to be a good surfer, act as the great surfers do by being honest with yourself and others.

Protect the ocean as you depend on it.

Always play by the rules and etiquette of the sport, whether free surfing or competing; know your goals and limitations, but never let them destroy your passion for riding waves.

The better you know your truth and act by it, the more respected you will be by those who cross your path.

Wave riding: talent goes hand in hand with ethics | Photo: Shutterstock

5. Humility

When you surf well, and people praise you all the time, it's easy to get trapped in your ego.

Don't ever let surfing rely on vanity metrics. Instead, keep in mind what led you to wave riding in the first place.

Yes, it's good to be good. But it's better to let success be a consequence of your practice and not the goal in itself.

The most amazing surfers of all time are humble and praise each other because they know, in their hearts, what surfing is really about.

They know competition is just a game that will eventually fade out, even though surfing will always remain an essential chapter of their lives.

6. Respect

Respect and gratitude play an ethical role in this water sport.

Surfing requires contact with at least four main elements: beachgoers, surfers, the ocean itself, and all those living in it.

As a surfer, you have the opportunity to experience and be a part of the beach environment, but you are only a small fraction of it.

As you depend on the beach and the ocean, and you are as entitled as everyone else in there to use it, you need to respect them.

Be thankful for what the sea gives you and care for it; act responsibly towards beachgoers; be kind to other surfers - they share your passion.

7. Ambition

Lastly - ambition.

Yes, a surfer should be humble, respectful, and honest, but a little bit of ambition - that little spark that makes you want to reach higher - is also relevant.

The very best performers seem to have an innate drive that leads them to risk at the right time and in the right way. They push their limits to create new realities within the sport.

However, the reason why ambition is the last item on this list is that it can easily blind you. Actually, it can make you irresponsible.

Be ambitious - yes - but keep it light. Keep it fun. That way, it becomes your friend and will never cast a shadow over your talent.

Words by Ana de Brito Costa

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