Know Before You Go: Visualisation
Going on a big surf trip in Indonesia or the Maldives? Surfing in your first or 40th contest at any level? Just nervous for the occasional bigger day at your home break? Visualisation can help.
I’ve used visualisation for surfing before but have never had a specific process to go by until now. I also am faced with an opportunity to put visualisation and my surfing skills to the test this weekend at the Sailor Jerry Surf Tag in Newcastle.
If anyone has ever done a surf-tag format contest, you know that it is high pressure. Typically, the format is you are allowed two or three waves in 12 minutes and the second wave counts double! Plus, you are part of a team so if you let your nerves get to you and struggle to score points, you’re not just letting yourself down. Nope, your team is watching from the beach as the clock clicks down on their chances to win. So, no pressure, right?
Even if you are not competing nor surfing big waves at some tricky reef break, visualisation for surfing can help you prepare for all kinds of conditions. I used visualisation when I struggled to return to the water and was afraid of anything over 3 feet after having a baby (see #3 in my post on overcoming a fear of bigger conditions here).
But, today an old salty dog, learned a new trick that I wish to pass on to you all. During a talk on goals and peak performance, I was introduced to a proper visualisation technique that can be used across disciplines to achieve results in anything really. All you need is a desired result or trait and a role model that exemplifies that result. It’s called the “Expert Process” and in it’s essence, you basically visualise yourself doing what you wish to achieve by using a “model” of that behaviour.
The “Expert Process”
Pick Your “Expert”
You need to pick an “expert” or role model in whatever it is you wish to visualise yourself doing. I want to perform better in all contests by getting more consistent results and I want to do well in this contest specifically so I picked Stephanie Gilmore for her style and Carissa Moore for her power. Both surfers do extremely well in contests. I next found videos of them surfing a variety of conditions but honed in on some clips of them surfing smaller, less than perfect waves like those I’ll be surfing this weekend in Newcastle at the beach break where the contest is which is forecast to be 2-3 foot.
Get Into Your “Personal Sanctuary”
Before you begin, you need to slip into a meditative state by relaxing somewhere quiet and clearing your mind of all distractions.
Step 1: Visualise your expert doing the task you wish to do, perfectly
I watched Steph in this video as she surfs a bunch of different waves but in particular the clip of her at 1:20 where she stylishly links turn after turn and executes the manuevers by utilising her upper body and following through.
Next, I watch Carissa Moore as she absolutely tears apart the waves at Lowers in this video. Her second wave on her backhand is what I visualised as my backhand wave. She does at least 4 powerful turns.
I then pictured each of them on a right and a left respectively in my mind’s eye.
Step 2: Step inside your expert’s body
After watching the videos and visualising Carissa and Steph on the waves, I “stepped” into their bodies.
Step 3: Morph that vision of your expert into YOU
After watching Steph and Carissa surf in my head, I put myself in their places. I even did that while I watched the videos of Carissa and since she was wearing a wetsuit and the filming wasn’t very good, it was easy to imagine she was me.
Step 4: Watch yourself doing the task perfectly from above
Now, imagine there’s a drone flying over you as you surf like Steph and Carissa and that drone is your frame of vision. Watch as you smash the left like Carissa and stylishly wrap turns like Steph. You can open your eyes now.
Try to Anchor This Into Your Psyche
Repeat this process as many times as you like. You can do this daily and at any time – including right before you surf a heat or go out in big waves. You can also control the play back. Slow down, speed up or focus on a certain part of the wave or manuever. It’s your visualisation so you’re in control.
Drop Your Anchor
You can use a signal like snapping your fingers to anchor the visualisation into your psyche and retrieve the memory again by snapping when you need it most!
Bonus: Dissolve Limiting Beliefs
Dissolving limiting beliefs is another method you can use daily and in any aspect of your life where you desire to improve performance. A limiting belief is a thought in your mind that prevents you from achieving a personal goal.
You can use visualisation to dissolve limiting beliefs much like you did to picture yourself executing perfect turns and winning contests as I did above.
For contest surfing, I often think, “I can surf well during free surfs, but I’m not a consistent surfer when I am in a contest.”
To dissolve this belief, I must first create a new belief which I decided was, “I love surfing in contests.”
Next, I slip into my meditative state and visualise the time when I first developed the believe that “I’m not a consistent surfer when I am in a contest.” For me, that probably came when I fell on two of three waves during a Tag-Team event last year (even though I scored a 4.5 on my double score wave and got a 9 overall). In your mind, you go back to that memory and replace it with the new belief that “I love surfing in contests.” Then you think of three events that would have gone differently if you held the new belief at the time and reflect to the present to dissolve the belief.
Will These Techniques Alter My Result?
You can take these techniques anywhere and use them anytime. I will use both of these techniques in preparation for and during the event. Right before I paddle out for my 12 minutes of fame in the Tag Team Event, I plan to replay my visualisation of me as Steph and Carissa. I will keep you posted on the result!
Do you have any visualisation or preparation techniques for surfing? Leave them in the comments, please!
(Note: please excuse my wacky British spelling of visualisation, I’m not a wanker but my spell check is!)