It's easy to fall into the trap of immersing ourselves in the energy that's around us in the water, BUT you will be so surprised at how much power you have out there.
We have all paddled out at some point and felt it, there's a vibe out there, maybe there's not many waves coming through to feed the hungry frothers, or maybe there's just one singular person having a bad day or looking to prove themselves by being the top shredder and they are not performing how they would like, so they huff and puff.
If it only takes 1 person to make the vibe feel negative, maybe it only takes 1 person to switch it into a positive one?
Here's some things we have learnt along the way and we like to share with our students:
One from our Level 2 Stall & Step course / Photo Bella Bunce
Countless studies have shown that smiling at a stranger can trigger an automatic muscular response that produces a smile on our face and may also release a host of great hormones in our bodies, which enhance mood & health. Stress levels are also lowered.
So yes, smiling is contagious out in the line up and you can be the person to start changing the mood out there, just with a smile.
Make a friend
If I paddle out and feel intimidated or the vibe feels edgy, I like to speak to someone, even if it's a simple ‘Hey, how's it going, you had some fun ones?’
This instantly relaxes me and it's nice to connect with someone in the water and to cheer them on when they go for a wave, it can feel really supportive sometimes too, like someone has your back and is aware that you're there.
Also, if there is a specific person that I feel intimidated by, I make it a point to say hello to them, 9/10 they are actually super nice and will chat back to you, this instantly breaks down the perception you have built up about them out there.
Bella's signature move!
When the crowd feels serious, I like to mess around, especially if I'm with friends, laughing, calling each other into close outs, dancing on the waves, doing silly dismounts, this can lead to the line up feeling more playful and people sometimes join in!
Choose The Right Beach / Conditions For Your Ability & How Your Feeling
The water can be busy when the waves are good and generally this draws in bigger crowds, with lots of surfers with high expectations.
So before I go surf, I like to check in with myself and ask:
How am I feeling physically?
How am I feeling mentally?
If I'm tired or have a lot on my mind, sometimes I like to choose a quieter location, maybe surf somewhere with small waves, taking a foamy or a longboard, just to go have fun and catch some uncrowded waves when I know everyone will be elsewhere where ‘its going off’ - you go get those bombs, I'm going to chill here and catch 100 mini nugs!
Me & Sophie checking it out / Photo Bella Bunce - Surfline
Its ok to get out
I've had countless surfs where I have made myself stay in the water, either because I haven't caught enough waves or I feel frustrated with how I'm surfing and then I turn into a grumpy pants.
But at the end of the day, surfing is supposed to be fun, so when I start to feel the grump coming on, I say to myself ‘1 more wave, if it's good, I'll stay a little longer, if its poop, I'm getting out and grabbing some chocolate’
Be kind to yourself :)
Remember that everyone out there shares your joy for riding waves. Surfing is not just about catching waves; it's also about building a community, making friends and having fun.
Hope that helps, see you out there!