How Surfer’s Think
A number of years ago I came across an image [similar to the one displayed here] in a book on creativity, that resonated with me about how surfers think. Not only my own way of thinking, but the thinking of surfers who I have coached over the years, especially the ones who go on to become champions. You see, many champion surfers before they made their mark in the sport, were good at other sports. They were the playmaker in their youth soccer team, their school’s swimming champion, or just good at any sports they participated in. The thing is though, they loved to play sports, but weren’t always happy to take direction.
So when the swimming or football coach said, “be here at 6 o’clock” or “do twenty laps”, they did it as a child athlete, but as they grew and matured their enthusiasm waned. Their athleticism showed through and they still got good success, but not at the level their potential suggested. Then they discovered surfing.
Here was a sport that they could have fun, be expressive, but still be challenged on a daily basis. But most importantly, no one was actually telling them what to do, how often, or at what time. They could still be a champion, but under their terms. And once they committed to the sport, their innate athleticism coupled with playful enthusiasm, gave them the avenue to realize their potential as a surfer and athlete.
So if you are in the business of advising surfers as they develop, either as a coach, shaper, or parent for that matter – understand that the surfer won’t always be interested in what you want them to do. Their minds aren’t hard wired to be compliant, and that’s just how it is.
I’m not saying surfers don’t need to follow instructions or be disciplined to be successful in surfing, as they do at times, but, and it is a big but, in a surfer’s way.