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Confidence builder or confidence destroyer? Photo: YouTube

The Inertia

Lack of confidence when you’re in the water can rip your surfing apart. That pre-surf froth can quickly fade away and you’re left to deal with a hangover of negative thoughts and feelings.

Have you ever wondered if it was possible to transmute this negative energy into something good? Better still, maybe you could even use it to your advantage. How do we work on our confidence to improve all aspects of our surfing? And how can we carry this confidence forward with us through all areas of life?

Here are three basic ways to hack your confidence in the water:

Box Breathing

Box breathing is a powerful breathing technique that allows you to take control of the body’s unconscious responses. It emphasizes control through counts of four on both the in and out breath, allowing your automatic nervous systems to maximize the full use of oxygen into the body.

Deep breathing has long been promoted for its health benefits on both the mental and physical body and this is a simple tool you can use to effectively develop better habits. Thankfully, our subconscious mind automates our breathing so we can focus on more pressing issues – like what’s for dinner…

When we’re feeling anxious, fearful and lacking in confidence our minds tend to race away with thoughts and future scenarios. If you have experienced anxiety, you will know all too well how this pattern works. When we connect our minds back to our breath we help to redirect our thoughts.

However, by simply bringing our awareness to our breath we can greatly enhance our inner and outer emotional state. When we are frightened, anxious or fearful we tend to have shallow, short and rapid breaths. When we are relaxed, calm and confident we tend to have deeper, longer breaths.

What this shows is our breathing has a direct link to how we are currently feeling. This is crucial to building more confidence in the water.

To put this simply:

Deeper Breathing = Greater Confidence.

Box breathing promotes deep full inhale and exhale breaths which helps to calm and regulate the automatic nervous system. This invites a calm and centered emotional state. When you develop a great sense of confidence with your surfing, this then has a domino effect on body language, energy levels, vocabulary, and your overall perspective of your reality. You no longer live in the doldrums of “what if” and step into “I can!” It’s a huge shift in your mindset.

To learn how to use Box Breathing effectively in your surfing, download the guide here.

Become an Expert in Your Comfort Zone

Is it actually beneficial to constantly push yourself?

I am all for pushing your comfort zones and breaking through to new paradigms. In fact, I would say that I thrive in this area of my life. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m actually a little addicted to these situations because of the spike of dopamine it brings and a sense of accomplishment. Throughout my year, I will often have personal goals associated with scenarios or events which I find challenging. I do this purposefully so I can prove to myself that anything is achievable.

But when it comes to confidence in surfing I have a completely different approach. If you really want to build your confidence you first need to become an expert in your comfort zone and only then move forward to the next level. This is so underestimated yet deeply important in your learning curve.

When you do this, you’re building on a solid framework which will only assist with increasing your confidence. You see a lot of surf coaches pushing their clients too early, which ultimately results in negative or unpleasant experiences. Whether you’re beginning to learn how to duck dive or transitioning into completing consistent turns, stay within this specific learning zone until you’re absolutely, 100 percent confident and comfortable to move onto something new.

The Emotion Loop

Confidence compounds. It’s the product of a self-fueling cycle.

For example, if you’re feeling confident in life, it’s often because you’ve been on the receiving end of multiple positive events or experiences. When you flip this around and you’re lacking in confidence, it’s because the negative events and experiences in your life have stacked on top of one another and the wheel is no longer turning in your favor. It’s now moving further and further away from your flow state and this is not the place you want to be.

When this pattern forms, it’s more difficult to send the wheel back in the right direction. Considering how confidence affects nearly every area of life it’s crazy to think it’s only a little emotional loop in our brain’s limbic system.

As humans, we are much more predictable than we often realize. We’re constantly reminded how unique and individual we are, yet collectively we experience life events in much the same way. I call this formula The Emotional Loop


The negative emotion loop

A loop of positive emotions.

When you adopt this formula to your surfing you can begin to appreciate why you may be suffering from a lack of confidence.

First, set up an anchor. This is used in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) to help recall and build on positive emotions.

Press your left thumbnail into your left index finger in a pulsing motion.

–Now I want you to visualize a moment of surfing when you felt complete confidence within yourself, the environment, and your equipment.

–Hold this memory and this feeling for as long as you can, while pressing that anchor.

–What we are hoping to achieve here is to associate the emotional feeling of confidence with the physical sensation of pressing your thumb into your index finger.

–Now I want you to be aware of The Emotional Loop next time you go for a surf, especially when feeling a lack of confidence.

The next time you’re surfing and feeling fearful — maybe you are out of your comfort zone — your anchor will help bring your awareness back to a time when you felt super confident, triggering the loop of positive feelings and confidence. When you use this tool correctly it can be one of the most powerful and quick solutions to help boost your confidence in and out of the water.

The mind is a complex muscle and this is only a teaser of the many tools and techniques to help boost your confidence. Anyone you know who displays phenomenal confidence has probably worked very hard at it, developing themselves personally and applying themselves to their craft. It takes that inner worker to start seeing the outside results. There is nothing better than learning, growing and living to your full potential in this life.

Now I want to hear from you. Let me know in the comments below if there are any tips that specifically have helped you build your confidence in your surfing. I would love to hear how you get on with the tips I’ve suggested.

Editors Note: You can learn more from the author on Instagram here and online here


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