Breakdown in “Flow” when surfing

You know, when a surfer finishes their ride and they reflect on what just occurred, they usually think about the moves just performed but also the overall “feel” for that wave. A major component of this “feeling”, is the flow that the surfer maintained for the wave’s duration.

Flow in surfing terms is when a surfer rides a wave from start to finish without hesitations or stoppages. Where a surfer performs a series of manoeuvres with speed during and between the manoeuvres attempted. It’s also a major component of really great surfers, and can be the point of difference in scoring terms when they compete. Think of the Kelly’s and Steph’s in the world. Not only can they perform great moves, but they look beautiful at the same time because of the flow they display.

It’s a great frustration for many surfers when they perform a manoeuvre and get a stoppage as they come out of the move. This stoppage is usually followed by a bouncing action to regain their speed as they move into the next manoeuvre of the ride. Sound familiar? It should. As all surfers deal with this situation as they develop their skills.

 These stoppages are caused by two main reasons:

  • A surfer chooses the wrong move for the section entered


  • their technique isn’t sufficiently honed enough when performing some manoeuvres

When a surfer chooses the wrong move for example, that move might be performed technically well, but simply doesn’t fit the shape of the wave at that moment . For example, many surfers perform snap manoeuvres in cutback sections. When this occurs, the surfer applies their power too early in the cutback section, causing the surfer to crop the turn and lose speed, instead of drawing a longer arc to rebound off the foam and maintain their speed throughout.

Technique errors in backhand snap sections for example also cause many surfers to have stoppages. They perform their snaps by looking down the line, instead of looking back to the bottom of the foam. When a surfer looks down the line in these situations, they generally lose their speed, compromising their flow, especially if the wave is fattening-out.

The issue for most surfers with flow problems is that they usually don’t know why they have stoppages, and if they do, they simply don’t know what they can do to fix them. Having their performances evaluated by a knowledgeable surf coach would be a good place to start the improvement process.

So a big area of performance improvement for many surfers is for them to focus on maintaining their flow for a wave’s duration. By choosing the right move for the section entered and by understanding and developing their surfing technique, surfers of all standards will get better results, more success, and with that – have more fun.