Physical and mental preparation

September 29, 2020In Lifestyle

Surf is a sport in which preparation, both mental and physical, is extremely important. Have you ever experienced a panicky situation in which fear is your main emotion?

When you get into a state of confusion caused by panic it’s really hard to take the right decision and control the negative emotions.

I’d like to go further into detail about this; the first years of surfing were exciting for me, I learnt a lot and made unforgettable experiences, but the hardest thing for me was to overcome the moments of fear in the water, when the conditions weren’t exactly as planned.

In those moments I used to feel a mix of emotions like fear, adrenaline, but also satisfaction for my efforts.
 At first it was really difficult for me to face all this, from a psychological point of view. Very often I felt like my body could make it, but my mind was stopping me. I was focusing on the danger.

I then started practicing yoga, meditation in particular, and from that moment on I felt my confidence gradually growing during some situations in the water.

From then it was a lot easier to handle some negative emotions. I’ve learnt to develop an interior understanding in order to better control this fear and, after some practice, it has helped me a lot. Another useful practice to face and overcome our fears is to get used to scary situations. In time I realized how true is the sentence “never give up”: the more we strive to resist in a fearful situation, the more we adapt and overcome fear.

Of course this is no universal truth, as we are all capable of understanding when we can use this method and when it’s better to listen to our fear and back off. But fear is not always authentic and often it prevents us from reaching beautiful things or our objectives.

I’ve learnt that we are our own Bosses and sometimes we have to listen to our inner discipline. Surf is a so-called “extreme” sport and all extreme sports give us unique emotions and a lot of adrenaline, but also require an important and deep preparation because also a trivial mistake can have serious consequences.

I often smile when I think about all the times I found myself in these situations. Sometimes I foolishly -or, better, for lack of experience- backed out when the waves could have provided me excellent training and fun. Surfing must be done with adaptability. If we let our critical sense prevail, we can’t fully enjoy some moments.

Surf is fun, patience, challenge, adaptability and adrenaline.

During those years I often found myself in unpleasant situations in the water, mostly in the beginning, as the Ocean doesn’t forgive or, better said, it doesn’t always offer the suitable conditions for your specific level. At first, as I didn’t know the Ocean very well, I struggled a lot to face the power of the waves breaking in front of me…very often I feared I wouldn’t be able to make it to the surface immediately, or the risks of streams, rocks and corals made me anxious.

The Ocean must always be respected, no matter how strong we are, in the water we’re all the same and we have to be ready for any unpredictable event, we have to be able to control our negative emotions to avoid panic. Our human nature is vulnerable, the Ocean teaches us to be modest and respectful towards nature, that’s always more powerful than us.

Want to know my scariest moment?

I guess it was in Indonesia…the Ocean was rough, I tried to paddle off, but my idea was to stay inside and not to reach the line up as some sets (i.e. a series of waves) were 8 feet tall, but a stream pushed me outside and I couldn’t get out. I suddenly realized I was very far from the shore, where the biggest set was breaking, I saw both left and right tubes breaking with a stunning force. Of course it wasn’t breaking so hard where I was because I was in the stream area, where waves do not break, that’s why it was so difficult to reach the shore. Given my lack of experience, I didn’t know how to come out, I tirelessly tried to paddle towards the shoreline, but the stream was opposing my movement, i.e. I was paddling against the flow. I began panicking and it was only thanks to the advice of another surfer that I could get out and back to the shore.

It was a very frightening experience for me, but at the same time it was also an important lesson. Besides this fundamental preparation, I’m constantly training, alternating surf to bodyweight, balance, strength exercises and cardio.

Surf is an unpredictable sport, therefore you have to be prepared to any physical stress situation. Very often it happens that, after paddling out, just when you’re out of breath, there comes the set and you have to manage your physical energy and face the unpredictable.
 So, my training in the last few years has reached full capacity, also because I’ve started to attend some competitions.