“Every surfer should have one of these, but every beginner needs one of these.”
— Big wave surfing legend Ken Bradshaw
After 58 years of surfing sloppy beach breaks, perfect point breaks, empty lineups, Woodstock crowds, some epic rides, many more terrifying wipeouts, one shark scare and a near punch or two, I discovered last week that I’ve been doing it wrong the entire time. While practice can make perfect, in my case practice was actually reinforcing bad habits.
A prevailing theory in surfing is that everything is based around the popup. All you older surfers understand that — once you get to your feet, you can surf nearly as well as you ever did. Getting there, however, can be difficult. Finding the “sweet spot” on your board and standing there immediately after takeoff is far more difficult.
I have known Nate and Christy Goodson for several years. They are what the Hawaiians call ohana, part of my forever growing surf family. They are also the inventors of the Pro Surf Trainer System, which employs what at first glance appeared to me to be an oversized yoga mat with some cryptic symbols printed on it. Having witnessed other items over the years that promised to improve my surfing, I was skeptical. Aside from Hunter Joslin’s Indo Board, nothing had done anything to improve my mediocre wave riding performance.
What was not initially apparent in the Pro Surf Trainer was the hours of research and development that went into what I now believe to be an important piece of surf equipment.
The numerous workout videos proved easy to follow and promised to strengthen the core as well as muscles needed for paddling, turning and duck diving. They could also aid endurance required for bigger surf and long sessions while aiding in the flexibility required for stuffing yourself into tight sections. The main benefit I’ve found with this unique product, however, is that it teaches exactly how to pop up and where to place your feet. I first noticed that my stance was off when I was riding a little wave and looked down to see that I was standing nowhere near the center of my board. My stance was also too narrow, and I was standing too far back on my board. I had nearly quit riding smaller boards because I would usually kick the tail when attempting to ride anything under 8 feet in length.
I found that years of riding boards exclusively in the 9-foot range had made me lazy and I was dragging my foot into place rather than jumping to my feet and landing in the same spot each time. For slower waves this is a needed skill, for faster waves, it is the difference between staying in or slightly ahead of the curl and a trip to the ocean floor.
I purchased my Pro Surf Trainer Mat nearly a week ago and have since spent about 10 minutes a day doing the suggested workouts. Earlier this week I rode my shortest board for the first time in months. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but I did find that I was getting up quicker and was in better position than I previously had been.
While I am optimistic that I will continue to improve, I will give my full assessment of the Pro Surf Training System in a few months, after the water warms up and I again plunge into the Pacific with everything I have.
For more information on the Pro Surf Training System, check out the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssLe53h8Lyg
Beloved longtime North County surfer Kent Johns recently passed away. A celebration of his life and paddle out are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 8, at Grandview at 3 p.m.
Johns is survived by his wife, Donita, and their children, Caleb, Elli and Carson.