So the past few weeks have been somewhat interesting. We were hit with a large swell and as my luck has been lately, I could only surf when the swell was far from good. I managed to find myself out of the water when it was great and in the water when it was less than perfect.

For the first day of the best swell, I arrived to find some difficult conditions. Strong winds, a disorganized and building swell, and a lot of current. This caused me to lose focus long before I paddled out. I frantically paddled around seeking a good, rideable section.

On the drive home, it started to dawn on me that although I was the top guy in the water; I had strayed far from a good session. Sure I went fast and I also had very long rides as well. However, my inability to keep myself focused caused me to race the waves far more than what I needed to do in order to pull off any quality turns.

Later that night, as luck would have it, I fell ill and spent the next two weeks barely able to make it to work. It was not a fun time. But it was a time to reflect on what I did wrong.

This past Sunday, I drove to the beach just as the last swell way dying out. I expected far greater conditions to be honest but I was not going to let an opportunity slip on by me. I checked a few spots and I just was not feeling it so I took a drive down to Sebastian Inlet.

Upon arriving, I saw it was not so hot here either but I ran back to my car and grabbed my equipment and headed down the path to the beach. Then I stopped and made my plan. I went over a few key points and hit the water with far better results.

What Makes a Pro?


Waiting for the correct moment to present itself!


Take any activity.

Singing. Golfing. Football. Surfing. Auto Racing.

Imagine a pro golfer hitting every shot as hard as they possibly could. A singer screaming as intensely as they can for every note of every song. A boxer wildly swinging. One can easily see that someone who did this would either not have a long career or would hardly win.

A pro tennis player knows that they can do a hard return or they could fool someone with a low energy drop shot. A boxer knows to strike when there is an opening. And surfing is the same way. You have to keep yourself in the zone and strike when there is an opening…or wait for an opportunity.

By keeping myself focused and on plan, I was able to make the most out of conditions that the other surfers struggled to deal with. My goal was to stay light on my feet and to keep focused on finding the power pockets to snap off of.

Give it a shot. If you are blindly paddling around and surfing (or doing any other activity) without a plan and not setting markers then how do you know if you are improving or meeting your expectations?

It can be something as advanced as repeating certain maneuvers over and over or just remembering to stand up taller and opening up your shoulders when you are riding down the line.


About 1stpeaksteve

Welcome to The Side Wedge! The Side Wedge is a product of the journey through life of Steve Zima. Former professional surfer, a writer, surf coach, and hospitality manager. This is a collection of travel tips, motivation, and stories from my past. Finally, I offer surf coaching through The Side Wedge. Please feel free to contact me with questions if you want to improve your performance today! Thanks for reading!
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5 Responses to Pivoting

  1. Jessica says:

    Sorry you were sick! Glad you’re better now. I’ve never surfed but can imagine how critical timing must be for success. Thanks for the life reminder! I’m in the middle of my own waiting game right now, and it sucks!

    • 1stpeaksteve says:

      Time seems to really be standing out for me lately. On a lot of aspects. I look at people who do foolish things as people who are basically destroying themselves. We have a limited time and you cant squander what you little you have.

      I am not shooting to be a future saint but I want people to at least say that I made some impact on them.

  2. Sorry to hear you’ve been poorly Steve, don’t rush back into full on activity and pace yourself is great advice, I had to pass on a couple of auditions a few months ago when I fell ill at the wrong time, but I thought better pull out than leave a long term bad impression.

    • 1stpeaksteve says:

      I have the urge to return to surfing some small contests and I have a block of sorts with training and all of that stuff. Basicallly knowing that I am 100% in. It is the same thing. I do not want to just not participate and not feel confident that I will come home with a trophy. I do not like to do things at 45% and possibly not put in a good performance. So I can see why you did the same thing.

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