A Sense of Purpose
I am by no means an expert in time management! However, I can say that I am an expert in having a sense of purpose. You see, many people take up sports or hobbies in their life and start off strong but at some point they hit the wall and flat line. For most surfers this period comes fairly quickly. That is because the masses don’t take their water time seriously.
How does my water time differ from the others at my local break? First off, I probably work half as hard as most and ride the best waves that come through. This is due to prep work and doing my homework. I know the easiest routes back out to the main peak and everything is planned out. A nice set rolls in and me being the nice guy lets everyone have a crack at it. A kind gesture? Yes, but this move somehow allows me to stroke quickly beyond everyone else just as the biggest wave is coming in beyond the normal outside spot. After catching one of the first waves, the surfers begin to make the long paddle back out taking waves on the head and where am I? Probably almost back out to the take off spot once again. I know where the rip is that breaks up the waves and pulls me out to sea with minimal effort. This process repeats itself over and over.
Once again this is all due to how I view my day in the water.
If you really want to improve at something, you have to create a sense of purpose. I don’t surf as often as say, Kelly Slater, so I have to maximize my time in the water. So before I go out, I create my game plan and once I arrive at the beach, I revise this plan to better suit the conditions and the crowd.
For example, from my last session I decide that I need to focus on staying closer to the pocket and that I know the waves will be in the chest high range so I am going to take out my shorter board. In order to stay close to the pocket, I will need to work on my cutbacks and holding my bottom turn longer. I use cues or keywords while I am surfing to ensure I stay on track. For instance, before the bottom turn I could use “set” for getting into the proper stance on the way down the face and “hold” during the bottom turn to ensure I get on the rail longer. After I surf, I evaluate my day and then decide on what worked and what did not work.
Everyone runs into this problem. They decide that they want to go out on the best peak to catch some waves and then something happens. A rip develops and you start missing waves. The sets start breaking out past you and you are never in the right place. You mess up on two good waves. Soon, you realize that you have just spent 2 hours paddling around and not doing much surfing. You come in and you are demoralized by the ocean.
Long before the 2 hours went by, the succesful surfer should have taken a time out and really worked to change their day. Sometimes you just have to stop and regroup. For myself, I work to ensure that my day “in the office” is not going to be derailed. Thus, with a plan that I am following, I can see when something is going wrong in contrast to someone who is just paddling out seeking out a few rides.
One of my tools that I use in the office is my surfboard. This seems very obvious and I am sure you are saying of course it is tool. I mean, without it you would not be surfing! True, but my statement goes far beyond that. I use my surfboard as my tool to dictate how I am going to execute my plan in the line up. This even works in a surfing contest. There are tricks to track elements during heats such as how many waves one catches.
As noted above, I use keywords to keep me focused on the task at hand while I surf. As surfers know, there is a lot of downtime between waves where we are just sitting around watching the crabs crawl on the bottom and we also engage in conversation with the local weirdo. What I do during this time is to remind myself to stay focused. On the nose of my board I write out a few keywords. In the photo you see two words which are “focus” and “aim”. Turning in the best area on the wave is critical. Sometimes when I am bored or tired, I have found myself just looking for a split second in an area of the wave and committing without really thinking things through. To correct this, I am working on really focusing on hitting the lip at the best possible spot. “Exceed” is just a motivator. I always strive to be one of the better surfers in the water when I paddle out. “Hold” is to of course hold my turns as long as possible on rail.
What Did You Accomplish?
As I wrote before, success can be contributed to your efforts. There are millions of surfers out there. The masses are just paddling out and trying to beat some stress. They put zero effort into their water time and their rewards equal their input. They sit and shake their head as yet another good surfer is on the set wave of the day. They paddle around trying to catch scraps. They are happy to surf but what did they really get out of their time in the office?
Are you prepared when you enter the water or just winging it? Is your performance level rising over time or is your water time spent paddling aimlessly in hopes of catching a ride or two? You set the tone for how your experience will be in the water.