A few years ago, I had the good fortune to go to the Gold Coast of Australia to cover the season-opening Quiksilver and Roxy Pro events. With what seemed like the entire surfing world hunkered down and surfing in the little town of Coolangatta, the inspiration to surf like a pro was all around.
During every surf check, Joel Parkinson would do something crazy, only to be followed up by Mick Fanning doing something even more nuts. Then, Kelly Slater would get a wave and remind everyone why he was the man.
I wanted in on some of that action! The only problem was that, well, those guys are pros, and I'm just some media schlep looking for a scrap.
Fast forward a few day to Duranbah (one of the most high-performance waves on the planet) where I saw former pro surfer turned coach Chris Gallagher filming two of his clients, CJ and Damien Hobgood.
“What's up, Gally? Dude, gimme the quick course. What can I do right now to surf better? Like Parko and those guys!”
Gallagher immediately threw out three really good surfing tips, which just about every one of us can benefit from. Here they are:
Stand on your tail
“Today's surfboards aren't designed for you to place your back foot anywhere but on the tail. With all the intricate vees and contours shapers are putting from the fins back, you're doing yourself and your high-performance board a disservice by having your back foot not over that part of the board. Basically, that last eight inches of your board — directly over your cluster of fins — is the sweet spot.”
Surf through your hips
“Use your core to rip. You shouldn't be leading your turns with your arms; it looks ugly and has no substance behind it, meaning you'll be surfing weak. Instead, focus on using your hips as a swivel point; the spray you'll be chucking will speak volumes.”
“Take only what the wave offers you and wait for a proper section to maneuver off. Tap into the flow of the wave and look down the line to see what it's going to do. You'll see a lot of guys try to force maneuvers into a section or spot that it doesn't fit into. Don't force things — let them come to you.”
As a coach to the Hobgoods and the Marshall brothers (Jake, Connor and Nick), Chris Gallagher is a hot commodity in the surfing world. But he's also looking to expand his coaching program to normal, everyday surfers like you and me who want to get better.
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