Sports Mindset & Performance Coach
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The Inertia

Read through any surf magazine or website and you’ll come across images and stories of surfers chasing giant waves and endless barrels. Images of pristine beaches make us dream of surfing paradise destinations. Pro surfers winning contest after contest inspire us to be on top of the game, living a healthy life full of our own surf adventures.

But what does it really take to live a life of optimal performance?

Well, for passionate surfers like myself, life isn’t always as we want it to be. We are not professional surfers surfing and training every day. The best amongst us surf every morning or every sunset before and after working hours but the majority of us only have those opportunities during the weekend with the occasional trip sprinkled in through the year. These moments become so precious that we always want to capture the best of them.

The thing is if you want to get the best out of your surfing you need to maintain an optimal performance level whether you surf daily or occasionally. In this optimal performance surfer series, I will be sharing tips with you that will not only help you become a better surfer but will also improve your mental and physical health. The methods I will be writing about are used by professional athletes and widely thought of by mental strength professionals all over the world. I will break them down to you into simplified practical steps.

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I will be showing you specific tools for both mental and physical health. I’ll share techniques to help you become more focused and sharp, how to deal with pressure, anxiety and fear, and how to boost your confidence level.

Routines, Disciplines, and Habits

Get up! It's firing! Photo: Shutterstock

Get up! It’s firing! Photo: Shutterstock

The typical image of optimal performance is most often that of a world-class athlete who has broken records. Their achievements are the result of countless hours of practice, focus, motivation, discipline, and resilience. Winning athletes have all used the same patterns and methods for achieving success in their chosen fields.

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Most of us are resistant to the idea of sticking to a routine, but what can we achieve without some sort of consistent effort? This is because the idea of doing the same thing at the same time every day makes you feel like you are losing your freedom. We call this “value conflict.”

Discipline and routines won’t keep you from having freedom in your life though. You’ll need to redefine what freedom means to you. If you want to grow a muscle, you will need to lift weights regularly. And this regular practice is what will create results. As Jim Rohn says, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”

Winning at Life
Surfers often have a natural lightness of living and we can surely appreciate that positive mindset. A lot of people could learn from our way of living and thinking, but what makes a surfer’s mindset so different from everybody else? Surfers live up to their own values, they do things that matter to them, and they are guided by a set of values which has a strong impact on their wellbeing. While we’re all different and approach surfing in our own way, the common thread is that we all dedicate ourselves, on some level, to that same pursuit and experience: riding waves.

Think back to when you started surfing. How did you feel and what did it bring you? Did it bring feelings of freedom, happiness, joy, excitement, togetherness, belonging, and love for nature and the ocean? Whenever someone “wants” something, most of the time this is ultimately driven by an underlying value or set of values. Values are what we stand for. They are what we believe are the fundamentals of our happiness.

This leads us to the first lesson about a life of optimal performance: Living in accordance with your own values.

Whether you are after being healthier, free, or simply the joy of riding a wave, you need to be conscious about what drives your motivation today and how much you are willing to do to keep it consistent tomorrow.

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Motivation is Key
If you have been reading this far, this means that you are open to doing the work and learn how to perform optimally. Great! Here are a few questions to start with:

-What do you want specifically in becoming an optimal performer?
-What will it specifically feel like to be an optimal performer?

You will most likely come up with goals, not values, but keep on digging with this sequence of questions:

-What is important to you about …. [goal]?
-What matters to you here?
-Let’s say you already have …
-What’s more important than that or what do you value more?

The answers will give you an idea of what you value most.

Choose your top-5 values then put them in order of importance. Next, ask yourself what simple things you could do daily to honor your values. This will be the foundation of our work. Your answers will be your reminder and focus point to staying motivated to reach your goal of optimal performance for surfers.

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