Surfing is a never ending learning curve. Even the guys still cruising in their sixties will tell you with an open mind you can improve your technique.
Time was you muddled along. You got battered by the ocean and learnt by trial and error. Getting your ass handed to you with a side of French fried potatoes by Neptune was the way it was. There were no shortcuts.
Times have changed young padawan. Now you can get the kind of knowledge that took years to acquire the hard way from those lovely folks known as coaches.
Modern life is hectic. There are too many demands on all our time so getting hints and tips from those crew that have been there and done that makes perfect sense. Much as getting a surf lesson or two to figure out how to stand up is now a standard, coaching of intermediate and advanced surfers is very much now a thing. It’s not just for pros, anyone that can carve a green wave can benefit. As you’ll see in the Q&A the guys that run these operations can help you in myriad ways. From building confidence, ocean knowledge, fitness, technique and video analysis there’s all sorts of avenues to make your game stronger. A coaching trip is an investment in yourself. Who doesn’t want to surf better? To rip harder? Where do we sign up!
We spoke to a few of the surf camp and coach experts to get the low down on what’s on offer to push advanced and intermediate surfers on to the next level…
Toby Millage, The Surf Experience Owner (TM) | Justin West, OMX Surf Coach and Partner (JW) |Kelvin Zehmke, Billabong Team Rider and Son Surf School Coach (KZ) | Miguel Pereira, Founder and Manager of Surfivor Surf Camp (MP) | Hamid Naciri, Olo Surf & Nature team member (HN) | Indra Sumadi, In Da Surf Surf Coach and Director (IM) | Karim Elbihi, Paradis Plage Surf Manager (KE)
What are the biggest problems intermediate surfers come up against?
TM: Confidence battling with belief.
JW: Poor paddling technique, problems with timing, positioning and reading the wave when paddling for it. The next common faults include dropping straight down the wave and not looking along the line during take off. Video analysis and watching more advanced surfers in slow motion helps visualise these issues.
KZ: Shortage of confidence to take the drop. We spend time in the water with them, making them feel at ease which builds their confidence.
MP: Usually it’s the lack of physical preparation to come up with the paddling. We give out tips to our guests to get prepared before arriving. For intermediates and advanced we suggest a two week stay or longer to really build up your surfing.
HN: Usually intermediate surfers have problems with wave-reading, how to be at the right peak, and how to manage their speed on the wave. We help guests to understand wave mechanics through photo and video analysis.
KE: The two biggest problems that an intermediate surfer encounters are wave selection and staying on the open face of the wave. To concur these problems we teach about surf spot analysis, observation, patience and how to use your upper body, arms and most importantly your eyes and sight.
What programmes do you offer that are specific for intermediate surfers looking to progress?
TM: Once a green wave stage has been hit we offer SURF SAFARI weeks and 2/3 sessions will be filmed.
JW: Along with full video analysis feedback sessions, OMX offers structured coaching with myself a pro surf coach from JWC.SURF. Our team has years of experience with coaching improver to elite surf levels including x2 national champions, 2 WQS, a previous CT athlete and European Junior Champion.
KZ: Surf theory. We physically accompany our intermediate surfers in the water to ensure they feel at ease, which builds confidence and results in more waves and so faster improvement. Once confidence is there, video with analysis.
IS: We offer our guests professional semi-private surfing lessons with video analysis and theory. One coach takes on a maximum of two at a time to achieve the best results in a short time.
HN: For intermediate surfers, we offer the coaching package that includes 2 surf lessons per day and will help them understand the principles of the wave’s energy, improve their wave-reading skills, adapt their paths to utilise the wave’s energy, and develop a reactive analysis, with full photo and video support.
What programmes are on offer for advanced surfers?
TM: Pro training level for shortboarders with Sam Lamiroy ex pro. Longboard clinics with ex Euro top 3 Manuel Necas.
JW: OMX has hosted several WQS athletes on training camps maximising the uncrowded and consistent conditions. Advanced surfers will receive expert guiding and appreciate the intricacies of choosing the right conditions and right time to surf the multiple options and set ups on offer.
KZ: Coaching at a variety of surf spots and conditions. Video and photo analysis.
IS: For advanced surfers we can offer surf trips to different surf spots all around Bali, video coaching and surf photography from land and water.
MP: We offer a weekly surf course for intermediate and advanced surfers, with guiding to the best surf spots in the region, like Espinho, Matosinhos, Maceda and Esmoriz. The course goes from Mon – Sat and an experienced local surf guide will take surfers to the right spot at the right tide.
HN: For advanced surfers, we offer daily Surfari’s to discover some of the beautiful uncrowded spots (beach break and point breaks).
KE: One-on-one Surf Guiding with our experienced, local instructors is available from sunrise to sunset and a photographer and videographer service can be arranged as well.
Video coaching and how it works
TM: We offer video coaching every week from the very first level. On all Safari weeks this is more and the PRO weeks it is everyday.
JW: Video analysis sessions are offered to all levels from intermediate to elite. Learn how to analyse your own surfing and others. Coaching, analysis, break-down of manoeuvres and combinations from pro surf coach Justin West. Each surfer client will have a particular technique to address each session.
KZ: 1.5 hrs coaching sessions. (30 minute surfs with feedback between surfs) and video analysis afterwards.
IS: During your lesson we record videos and your coach will go through them with you after your session. As most people are visual learners, video analysis is a good method to see your mistakes and understand better what you have to work on. During this session our coach will explain to you what you’re doing wrong and give you some tips on how to improve your riding.
HN: We offer video coaching managed by our head instructor, making sure that we have recorded the best waves. In the evenings, we take time to sit with each individual student and survey the video analysis showing their lines on the wave, how they manage their speed and wave’s energy, and from that we give the best advice according to the progression of each one.
KE: Video analysis is provided to all levels to help perfect and improve surfing ability. For intermediate surfers, we focus a lot more on technique and give more detailed advice to help improve manoeuvres.
Benefits to private lessons?
TM: Obviously 1 on 1 is great but the specialist weeks are limited and I would saying the video analysis is more key.
JW: There is no benefit to private lessons as all of our clients are treated as individuals as if in a private session and their individual surfing style and technical issues are addressed on that basis. With the added benefit of sharing the stoke with our little community
KZ: More focus on the individual. More waves. Bigger variety of surf spots.
MP: If you book a private lesson you get all the attention of your coach and will progress much quicker. There is more space for details and a more thorough communication. Nevertheless it’s important to also surf and develop among other surfers and we also promote lots of free surfing.
HN: With private lessons, we offer personalised, one on one experiences. The guest receives full attention and can request specific needs and desires to help their surfing progression.
KE: A one-on-one approach works well for advanced/intermediate surfers who want to take their surfing abilities to the next level, as more attention can be spent with the student int the water as well as talking through manoeuvres in more detail when out of the water.