So you want to be a Pro Surfer?
2019 is a big year for surfing. Since it will become an Olympic sport in 2020, this will be the year when the majority of qualifying happens. Pro's and Am's around the world are dedicating serious time to progressing themselves and their surfing abilities in order to get one of the 40 spots available (20 men and 20 women).
So, how does one go about qualifying? It's a complicated process that goes something like this:
Quota places will be allocated to the athletes at the following events:
- Host Country: Japan as host country is allocated 1 place in both men's and women's events. If at least one Japan has earned a qualification place through other events, the relevant Host Country Place(s) shall be reallocated to the next highest ranked eligible athlete at the 2020 World Surfing Games.
- 2019 World Surf League Championship Tour - the 10 highest ranked men and 8 highest ranked women will be awarded quota places.
- 2019 ISA World Surfing Games - the top finishers from each continent with the exception of the Americas will be awarded a quota place.
- 2019 Pan American Games - the top finisher in men's and women's events will be awarded a quota place.
- 2020 ISA World Surfing Games - the top 4 men and 6 women will be awarded quota places.
If a NOC or National Olympic Committee qualifies more than the maximum number of athletes, the 2020 ISA World Surfing Games will prevail and any places earned from 2019 will be rewarded to the next highest finishing athlete(s).
There is a maximum of 2 men and 2 women per NOC. *
In summary, half of the available positions go straight to the top 10 men and top 8 women on the WSL CT. The remaining 22 positions are up for grabs. Another kicker is that each country can only have 2 men and 2 women representing them. This is a great thing otherwise it would be dominated by the Australians, South Africans, Brazilians and Americans. True diversity will give the world its 1st look at competitive surfing in its purest form.
What this means for everyone else is that there is an even greater chance we will see some new names representing their countries along side the current roster on the CT.
Whether or not you think that surfing in the Olympics is good or bad, the one thing that always comes with an elevated level of sport is an elevated level of progression. In order for the athletes to take it to another level, they will have to do everything they can to progress the limits of their body and its physical capabilities first. National Olympic Committee's across the world are now opening their doors to their respective surf teams, providing them training that was once reserved for the countries best athletes.
For many countries, the sport of surfing may just be their strongest chance in history to ever compete on a level playing field too much larger countries with greater resources. Gone are the days of the WAKE, EAT, SURF, SLEEP, REPEAT lifestyle. The progression in the near future will happen at light speeds compared to the days of old as more surfers buy into the athletic training for performance mindset.
What does this mean for you if you do not keep up with your own training?
Most likely, the level of competition will leave you behind at a very rapid pace if you do not also adapt what “Training” means to you.
So with all this talk of being an "athlete" and fitness training in Surfing, what can one do to help aid their own surfing progression?
At this point, you may already be training, or you know that you need to. But if you are training, where does your “program” come from? Are you just doing random exercises you came across on YouTube? If so, you might be shocked to hear that what you may currently be doing might not really be helping your surfing much at all. By constantly practicing a movement with improper form and technique, you are only contributing to the problem and wasting your time.
Surfing is one of the most dynamic sports that a human can do. The training that you are doing has to be precise and progressive in order to teach the body the most efficient ways to handle the demands of high performance surfing in a split seconds notice. When it comes to the fundamentals of learning a specific movement, you can get in more repetitions in a workout than you could in many more hours of time spent trying to surf in the water. Therefore, the body gets more repetition for learning which allows it to adapt at a much more rapid pace.
When it comes to a true mastery of any activity, it all lies in the accuracy, consistency and frequency of the practice.
I work with many surfers on a regular basis, some that are currently competing at high levels. The one thing that constantly puzzles me is how someone who participates in such a highly dynamic activity, has virtually no real body control over their movements when you take them off of their surfboards.
There has long been a mindset that you need a surf coach to help you surf better and for the most part, I agree. They can coach you to handle situations and correct some of your weaker areas of the activity. However, if you body is not capable of working a certain way, you can try over and over with their suggestions,but your lack of movement skills will be your biggest enemy and fight you constantly.
I constantly ask myself:
"How can someone believe they are taking all the necessary means to compete at a high level if they are already skipping one of the most important steps of being a true athlete and champion: The physical training?"
If you are not training currently outside of surfing alone, it is time to step up your game. Even if you are doing basic activities to get better, it will likely pay out more dividends over the short and long-term than not following a regular movement and fitness program in the 1st place.
If you are fitness training, it's time to step back, take a more objective look at your training and ask yourself “ is this program of movements actually going to progress my surfing”?
If you are unaware to start in the first place, I advise you to either reach out to a professional Personal Trainer or Fitness Coach that specializes in Sports Performance Enhancement and quality movement techniques. There are also many quality Surf Performance programs available at relatively inexpensive prices. Your coach will be able to build a program for you to address your physical strengths and weaknesses. Also make sure that the coach is a relatively good surfer in their own right. They will have a better understanding of the physical demands and can program their training methods more accurately.
One thing is for certain and that is Competitive Surfing is more popular than ever and is here to stay. In order to make your mark you will have to work hard.
Don't ever let someone beat you because they were more prepared.
Questions about fitness training for surfing? I can help, drop me a line here!
by: Eric Manthey, Fitness Coach. Fitness Vida