Intermediate surf tips with a professional coach

WavePoolMag correspondent Hannah Bristow – partner at KellySaysSurf, a YouTube channel “full of faceplants, fun and surfing fails” — shelved her ego and said “Yes” to a video coaching session with Martin Dunn. 

A fixture in the UK surf scene, Hannah emphasised to us that this is her first coaching session, “unless you count all the times random dudes paddled up to me in the lineup and said ‘you know, you should try not to put your knee on the board when you pop up.” 

But surf coach Martin is more Mister Spock than mansplaining Spicoli offering unsolicited advice in the lineup. In this intermediate coaching clip he gets all logical and breaks down Hannah’s triumphs and failures.

“As a tool, wave pools could realize spectacular results in a shortened time frame for those motivated surfers willing to do the work,” says Martin, coach to 20 WCT world tour qualifiers and Team Australia. “But like any tool, the technicians who will be advising the surfers must also be up to the job.”

After watching just a few waves of Hannah’s from a session this past winter at The Wave in Bristol, Martin had a few video coaching recommendations including working on pop up and arm movement. Hannah says the clip provides great insight into her technique. 

“It’s super helpful! Yeah, I always hated my pop up,” she told us in a text. “I deffo need to not swing my arm so much and turning my head is something I always forget on re entry. If I remember to do it, it really pushes the tail out and gets some release, I’ll work on it for sure!”

Check out Martin’s intermediate surf tips below in the video “Four quick tips for better surfing”

Hannah Bristow at The Wave. This image and main by Dan Mullins of Image Cabin

“The usual path to better surfing is to surf more, buy a new surfboard, or regularly watch the world’s best, trying to figure out how they do what they do. While this works for many surfers, many more leave their surf sessions frustrated and perplexed as to what they could do to become a better surfer. The missing piece of this puzzle is knowing : “what is missing or different in my performance from what good surfers do?”

That’s where a video review of a performance can be so beneficial. It highlights what exactly a surfer should work on, and along with comprehensive training recommendations, sets out a pathway for surfers to better their performances.

The video review example of Hannah Bristow was created from only three filmed waves from a wave pool session at the The Wave, in Bristol. From these three waves, specific and focused training that would improve Hannah’s surfing is highlighted and recommended.”

Skills highlighted in the video:

1. Having a cleaner entry and faster pop-up would be beneficial to Hannah’s surfing: Breaking the ledge at take off and popping-up fast allows a surfer to setup their first manoeuvre of a ride with confidence.

2. Generating horizontal speed, is one of the core skills of surfing that every surfer should possess. It allows a surfer to surf fast right from take-off, between moves, and surf light- footed in small or flat surf conditions.

3. When performing re-entries, turning the head to look towards the base of the wave before impact with the lip, helps a surfer re-centre over their surfboard in full control as they drop back down the wave face. 

4. Surfers need three ingredients flowing together to perform powerful forehand snaps. That is: just before reaching the top of the wave, “lean” towards the base, “look” to where you want the surfboard to point, and “throw” or lift both arms towards where you are looking. Hannah had the first two under control, but there was limited “throwing” to enable her to generate speed at the end of the manoeuvre. 

Surf Coach Martin Dunn
Martin Dunn giving advanced training tips to former World Tour competitor Pauline Ado

“With this review completed, Hannah now has a roadmap as to what she can do to better her surfing. She knows the skills she can specifically target, the land simulations she can do, and a clear picture of what she is trying to achieve. All this from three waves, reviewed in a professional way.

The only unknown now is whether Hannah is motivated to work on her surfing. Regular focused and specific training on the highlighted skills need to be implemented. If this last ingredient is there, Hannah is on her way to better surfing in no time at all.”

Martin Dunn’s intermediate surf tips (and beginner and advanced) can be found on his surf coaching website. Follow Hannah’s surfing adventures on the KellySaysSurf YouTube channel.