Nathan Florence is one of the most entertaining surfers in the game. He’s funny, earnest, and a genuinely nice human being. He’s not too big for his britches, works hard, and spends most of his life, it seems, with a smile on his face. Recently, he participated in a Reddit AMA, or Ask Me Anything.
Reddit AMA’s can be hit and miss — sometimes, the person has nothing interesting to say. Sometimes, the questions don’t lead to any kind of interesting insight. But when they hit, they’re fantastic. It’s a communal interview of sorts, all bases covered, and includes plenty of fun stories. Such was the case with Nathan’s. We’ve scraped the barrel for the 10 best, most interesting, most mind-blowing answers, fixed the most glaring of typos, and shamelessly repurposed them here for your reading pleasure. Read the whole thing here.
How long do you think you can continuously paddle straight?
Probably 5-6 hours, maybe more.
Is there a threshold where big waves are pretty much the same? Is a 20-foot wave substantially different than a 25-30-foot-plus wave?
One-hundred percent! And a good question. Fifteen to 20 feet is serious and very large. Twenty-five to 30 feet and bigger, everything changes. These waves are so so big, and moving so fast that a small chop on the face is a four-foot wave moving across it. I’m saying a 30-foot back, or our weird Hawaii-style measurement, in actuality the face is near 100 feet tall and fully barreling if you’re at Jaws! The sound and pressure happening around waves like this is just straight scary! It would easily break your back or pull your head from your body in the impact of the lip!
What’s your mindset like 24 hours before going to surf big waves? Do you try and visualize the exact steps you’re going to take or do you try and distract yourself (relieve anxiety or whatever)?
I get extreme anxiety. Adrenaline starts early for me, and I utilize it for energy on the big days. I use it to hyper-focus in on what I want. I definitely visualize the wave I want. If it’s a big swell, I think about the ride of my life; what it would look like start to finish; every detail. Of course I think about dying, also. How can you not on some of these swells these days? But the chance at the ride of a lifetime overpowers such thoughts.
Your air game has made insane progress… what do you know now that you wish you knew a few years back?
Dude, great question. It’s going to take time, a lot of it, no matter what! So just expect that! Head position (where you look on take off of an air), speed, and a wider stance were HUGE learning curves for me! When learning, wind is your friend! Only going against it or into it. I mean, it makes it so much easier, dude. Trying airs with wind at your back is a no-go for me. There will be frustration. Never in my surfing life did I have so much frustration learning than with Aircamp. More details on the process and my nine months of Aircamp will be going up on my coaching channel if you’re interested!
How long is an average session for you?
If the waves are firing, I will stay out 4-6 hours. If waves are just fun and average, 1-2 hours. If waves are bad I try to give it at least an hour! Sometimes it’s just not worth getting frustrated over though, haha! I’ve called it after 1-2 waves many times.
How do you feel about an average surfer taking waves in a lineup? I’ve found myself in a lineup with pros and even when I have priority always feel like I should leave it for one of you guys to do something better with than the weak turns I’m about to do.
I say no way. Go for the waves if you can catch and surf them! Only time is when a wave is far above your level and you know you’re probably going to fall. For instance, if I have priority, but am not in a good position to go on the wave, I will tell someone else to go who is in a better position. Not because they are deeper or anything, but because I probably won’t make it from my position so why waste it?
Did you go to Kahuku High School?
I did, for two years! I’ll be completely honest with you all here: I left high school in eighth grade and gave homeschool an okay effort, then I just stopped. I gave everything to my surfing. I did not graduate. Do I regret it? Almost. I can always get my GED, though, if I feel it’s necessary.
Do you ever feel like you missed something by homeschooling? Not in an educational way, but socially.
Great question. The answer is yes and no. I did miss out on learning some social skills at a critical time like high school, but I believe our traveling to new countries for long periods of time made up for it. We were forced to make new friends in new places with other kids most of the time, even with a language barrier. My mom would work two jobs, save up money, then sublet our home and we would leave to somewhere where it was cheaper to live for 3-4 months! Mexico, Bali, France — socializing there and learning respect for different cultures was huge for us and how we treat people around us nowadays!
Who do you honestly think is the coolest out of you and your brothers?
One-hundred percent our youngest bro Ivan. I literally call him Mr. Cool. If you watch my YouTube channel, you will see that the guy has the best style of the three of us. He is equally good at skating, surfing, and snowboarding.
How many days a week do you train outside of surfing when it’s not pumping? What do you primarily focus on during your workouts? Side question: what is your plan for your OnlyFans? I think a few in here are genuinely curious why we should pay to view your content?
I train in the gym five days a week. Two active rest days, swimming, diving, rowing, foiling, cycling activities for the rest. I program very hard, mentally taxing workouts that are Crossfit-based, primarily. Willpower is everything in big waves, IMO. Training with intensity where you start thinking, “I can’t finish no way I can,” but the other side of your mind says, “we have no option but to continue.” This is major in pushing myself mentally in the bigger stuff, huge in overcoming bad incidents, and builds willpower in an epic way! I will be doing more in-depth videos on this on my new coaching channel. I supplement that type of training with pure strength-based power lifting, deadlifts, squats Olympic lifting. Heavy and less reps. This to me is the best prep for surfing: injury prevention.
What are some strategies for becoming more comfortable in bigger surf?
Comfortability is everything. If you’re comfortable in your body and its toughness, it helps mentally to get over that hump of fear. That’s why training is so important to me… not jumping straight into something you’re extremely uncomfortable with is huge, too. Slow exposure to bigger and bigger surf is key. Jump into something you’re not ready for and you may be traumatized into never trying again, which is not what anybody wants! Know your physical limits.