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San Clemente Journal

Notes on Conditioning

Feb 01, 2008 05:08PM ● By Don Kindred
Coach Benner Cummings

After observing surfers in spring and summer contests, it appeared some were overly fatigued from their hours of competitive power surfing. This could possibly relate to conditions within their training program. Problems could stem from lack of full oxygen intake, poor sleeping habits, even an improper diet. Élan vital, the driving force behind body cells of mental and physical actions in well-conditioned surfers, can be traced to the proper displacement of oxygen from the air they breathe. When performing under stress, aerobic oxygen flow mainly reinforces an improved respiratory heart performance. Some coaches claim this is at its maximum potential between the ages of 12 - 28 years in well-conditioned male athletes. This is thirty-percent higher than in most non-athletes. 

Stronger surfers tend to condition heart and body muscles by working with the breathing actions that help increase their endurance and staying powers. True, you learn surfing by surfing, but your body muscles and heart muscle must also be worked to check fatigue and stress. Watermen who neglect their sleep, a healthy diet, important warm-ups and the skipping of those hard twice daily workouts, pay a price. 

Yet, the strong surfers have learned that a sound physical body cannot but help in prolonging durability throughout their surfing careers, maybe into the years that follow as well. You don’t see healthy watermen with sagging physical body structures. This might have little meaning with surfers who appear to be succeeding already. Yet, the better watermen do understand that the sound physical development of their bodies may well be the next step to further success in surfing. 

Surfers should work daily to improve their physical and mental actions and also give stamina and strength towards their movements. You look over your shoulder at the younger gremmies coming up the surfing ladder today, and you find many already trying to explore new, enriched training habits. In the past, many surfers seldom gave much thought to this. They just didn’t think that way, the general public included. The surfer’s athletic training should include increasing the strength and capabilities of the heart muscle. The right ventricle vessel pumps blood through the lungs to be purified and returned to the left side of the heart, to be pumped through the powerful aorta artery and continue on throughout the body. A sound heart enables a good waterman to breathe stronger and move more rapidly. A strong heart helps athletes in general to have better physical alertness in applying their quick twitch movements so important in athletics today.

Also important for surfers to better understand, is the meaning of shape and conditioning. Shape refers to physical conditioning and is misunderstood by many athletes. Coaches often ask, “Are you in shape?” Shape is a quality you strive to achieve, really a never-ending process. The quality of a waterman’s physical condition is how well he surfs under the pressures of time and mental stress. Practicing the skills of balance, timing, vision, speed and twitch power helps surfers achieve a quality performance. This is what conditioning is. To surf correctly and maintain control is the mark of a good surfer. In reality, no surfer ever goes all out. This is physically impossible.

The way they surf in their heat on a given day may cause a surfer to finish exhausted, but it is not because they surfed all out. The surfer might have allowed lack of focus, control, stamina, inefficient techniques to sap his physical and mental energies. For in reality, you cannot surf better than you have daily practiced and conditioned yourself to do! Unregulated surfing results are what coaches tend to call wasted energy. Competition not only brings out your best qualities, but also tends to magnify your faults. You must be prepared both physically and mentally to compete, understanding that this is the point of your hours of daily training. Olympic swim stars swim 12 miles per day, 6 days a week. It is called single-minded dedication. To be successful, you have to condition yourself in order to reach your objectives. If you lack certain physical abilities, know your limitations often start within your own mind. Learn to condition your given skills, your mind and your abilities and use them to your advantage.

The athletes present at the Beijing Olympics were perfect examples of conditioning. The world and Olympic records speak for themselves. All events highlighted the importance of proper training and a positive mind set. Our swimmers and track stars were magnificent. Now if we can just work the sport of surfing into the 2012 Olympics!