Surfers: they spent 28 percent of their time in the water waiting for waves | Photo: Shutterstock

A 2012 academic research concluded that surfers only spend eight percent of a surf session riding waves.

It might sound surprising - or maybe not - that only a tiny fraction of the time is actually spent doing what the sport is all about.

The study conducted by the Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ) also revealed that surfers spend 54 percent of each session paddling for waves and getting back to the lineup.

As a result, 28 percent of the time is just basically waiting for waves.

So, over half a quarter of surf sessions are devoted to sitting on the surfboard waiting for the next set of waves.

The figures compare well against many other sports, including the world's most popular game - football/soccer.

Interestingly, on average, and in the entire 90 minutes, a football player will control the ball for between 60 and 90 seconds.

The rest is positioning, running, and creating critical passing line opportunities for their team.

Therefore, you could say surfers spend more time riding waves than footballers in possession of the ball.

The question arises - what do surfers do while waiting for the next wave-riding opportunities? Should they just sit on a near-robotic stand-by?

One of the magical characteristics of surfing is its spiritual connection with Nature and how it shapes a surfer's personality even when they're not technically riding a wave.

It also helps wave riders put life into perspective.

Surfers often wait for the next wave train to appear on the horizon for over 10, 15, or even 30 minutes, depending on the swell period, tide, and wind conditions.

Here are a few things you could do while sitting on your surfboard patiently for the upcoming liquid gems:

Surfing: a sport that allows participants to reflect on their lives | Photo: Shutterstock

1. Appreciate the Moment and Live the Present

Surfing is one of the best ways to fight anxiety and depression without prescription drugs. Unfortunately, in modern times, we rarely have time to be and live in the moment.

Contemplate the moment. Look up to the sky. Is it blue or gray? Observe the cloud patterns and how they slowly move and change shape.

Forget about the past, and never mind about what the future holds. Instead, seize the day and cherish the fact that you're in the ocean, doing what you love.

2. Meditate

Meditation is for everyone. And you don't need to be a mindfulness guru to experience it.

The word "meditation" often scares the most down-to-earth people, but it does translate into a very simple practice.

Just close your eyes, try to empty your mind, and feel the gentle movement of your body sitting on your surfboard.

It's really easy and delivers instant gratification - more and more surfers are adopting meditative sessions into their lives.

Try to extend the experience for as long as you wish and then open your eyes. You'll immediately feel relaxed and serene. Give it a go - it's worth it.

3. Think About Your Loved Ones

Most of the world's surfers live by the coastline in urban communities.

Whether you're studying, working, or taking care of your children and grandchildren, you probably have to cope more with more than ideal stress levels.

Time goes by in a hurry - except when we're surfing. In the lineup, and especially while waiting for the waves, time often stands still.

Think about the ones you love and cherish. Think about how you need or miss them and how you're relevant to their lives.

4. Remember Those You've Lost

We all have lost relatives, friends, colleagues, and people who were dear to us and, in one way or another, changed our lives.

Some say people never die as long as those who love them remember and keep them alive in their memories.

Pay your inner tribute to those you cherished and passed away - with your heart and with emotions. Wherever they are, they will surely appreciate and share the moment with you.

Surfers: there are plenty of things they can do while waiting for the next set of waves | Photo: Shutterstock

5. Analyze Your Past Actions

A good person - someone with timeless, positive human values - can always make a fairly decent self-analysis.

What did I do wrong yesterday and today? Have I made a mistake that could've been avoided? Did I hurt someone's feelings recently?

We all make mistakes on a daily basis.

The real challenge of an intelligent person is to acknowledge our miscalculations, errors, faults, and failures. It's both an act of courage and

6. Reflect on How to Become a Better Person

How do I want to be seen by others today and at the end of my life?

What can I do to make those around me - and the environment - happier and healthier? Do we want to pursue the right or wrong path?

So, what changes do I need to make and embrace to become a better individual? How can I fine-tune my personality?

Sometimes, we just need a short interval between waves to figure it out and change our lives forever.

We will only live one life - one single and unique life.

7. Plan Your Week Ahead

Time is precious. It's a cliché, but it is really true. It is one of the few things in life that you can't buy.

The clocking is always ticking, and time management has become a valuable skill that helps us optimize the 24 hours of the day.

While we're relaxed, enjoying the ocean breeze, and dreaming about the next perfect wave, we can always find a few minutes to prioritize our weekly responsibilities and activities.

The ocean is our personal assistant; the lull between waves is our agenda planner.

Surfing lineup: meditation and visualization are two things a surfer can do while there's a lull in the action | Photo: Shutterstock

8. Read the Ocean, the Wind, and the Lineup

The better you read all the variables that get into play in surfing, the faster you'll improve and the better surfer you will be.

There are several factors influencing the waves we ride, including tide times, wind speed and direction, mushy or steep waves, sudden weather changes, currents, wave-breaking patterns, and even the behavior of fellow surfers.

Waiting for the next set could be an excellent opportunity to update all data in order to fine-tune the next take-off zone, choose the right wave, or spot an uncrowded peak.

The more information we collect, the better the decisions we will make.

9. Visualize Your Next Ride

Visualization is a mental technique and skill that helps us simulate, anticipate, or predict a specific action or behavior.

The art of creating mental images of situations that will or might occur in the (near) future is already a high-performance method applied in individual and team sports.

Visualization is something professional surfers have already introduced in their training routines.

How should I approach a fast-breaking, barreling wave? How will I adapt my surf style and surfboard to small and gentle-breaking rollers?

What should my wave selection strategy be in a decisive heat with few high-scoring opportunities?

In conclusion, visualization is an effective mental tool that can be developed in the lineup and immediately applied in the upcoming wave.

10. Scrutinize Your Last Ride

There is no such thing as perfection, but we could - and should - aim for it if we really want to improve our surfing throughout the years.

The best way to grow as a surfer is to look at our mistakes and correct them as quickly as possible so that they don't become the norm.

Have I fallen on a pretty and perfectly peeling wave? Why has that happened? Have I put too much weight on my toes or heels?

Why am I losing so many good waves? Should I position myself more on the inside section and closer to the peak?

All our rides can be improved, even though surfers tend to overestimate their abilities. If our last wave was pretty good, there's plenty of room to make it great.

Be your own judge, compete only against yourself, and you will notice your surfing shining bright, week after week, month after month.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of

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