The best way to get good at something is to do it lots! When SUPs are involved this means lots of time on the water, but unfortunately we don’t all have lots of free time.
But what if there was a way of speeding up progression. A way of making marginal gains more like major gains in just one session?
Well, when it comes to racing there is one thing you can do to help you train and improve your performance… get your race board out in the surf. I can guarantee it will do more than just make you paddle faster!
Read 5 reasons why you should take your race board out in the surf…
Increases board control
Moving and paddling your board out through the surf line and surfing back in again is great practice for tuning and improving your board control. Having to adjust and balance on your board throughout the whole session keeps you fresh and light on your feet. Imagine the opposite training. Paddling in a straight line for 2 miles, doing 1 buoy turn and then paddling back again. Great for tuning a good paddle technique but not for increasing board control.
Great for sprint practice
Catching waves early and trying to ride very small waves on a race board is a great way of doing sprint training without knowing you’re doing boring sprint training! This is one reason why SUP surfers often make good race sprinters. Being able to use quick bursts of energy to catch the smallest or earliest of waves. Trying to catch waves really early when the bump is the smallest of slopes is a really good way of tuning your technique. Waves can move quickly and generally the bigger the swell the faster the wave is moving. Try catching a big swell far out from the beach or in an open channel where it’s not breaking, and you will see how fast you have to sprint to keep up with an open water swell.
Really get to know your board
Using your race board in the surf will help you work out when and why your board works best. It’s important to understand the limits of your board and how far you can push it. ie at what point does your board nose dive when catching a steeper wave? And how can you best trim your board to stop it nose diving? Also where do you need to stand to be able to paddle the fastest to catch the wave the earliest? There will also be a sweet spot at the back of the board which makes your board turn the best on the wave face. This will also be the same sweet spot that works best when doing buoy turns.
“Every board has pros and cons. Good paddlers know their board and know what they are.”
Pushes your comfort zone
Doing stuff you are used to and good at is fine and good for muscle memory. But pushing your limits now and then, and practising something you’re not so good at is important too if you want to progress your paddling. After just afew sessions, chances are what you may have thought as too difficult or maybe even too dangerous a few weeks ago could almost feel the norm. For example, entering a race in surf can feel very alien and nerve-racking to many flat water paddlers. But by practising in very small waves at first, you can slowly increase your confidence until you are happy to go out in bigger surf. Then when it comes to race day you will feel happy and confident using your race board in a wave environment and all you will have to do is think about your race plan and paddling around the other racers who haven’t been practicing in the waves! Not to mention how much more confidence you will have when you go to a flatwater race after paddling in the surf. It will feel easy!
It’s lots of fun!
If you can make something fun I can guarantee you will be doing it more often and for longer. Paddling a race board in surf is a lot of fun. A 2 hour session can easily slip away feeling like you’ve been out for just 30mins. But that evening your body will tell you it was longer session!
“Hard training can be made easy and fun.”
If you’re keen to race and improve, getting out on your race board in the surf is a must. It really will turn those marginal gains into major gains. Your increased board knowledge, board skills and overall confidence will leave you more head space to tackle that next race in your paddling calendar.
Video by SUP Norte SIC Maui RS 14’0 x 24.5”, in Matosinhos Beach, Portugal
Feature Image by Georgia Schofield