Did you blow your last wave pool session? Here’s help from one of the best in the business

In this article surf coach Martin Dunn took a look at what was going wrong at one of the world’s most popular wave tanks. Being the curious man he is, Martin studied the surf zone and took notes. He saw many surfers making the same mistakes over and over. Below, Martin Dunn Surf Coaching shares with you what to do and, more importantly, what NOT to do when seasoning at a wave pool.

I visited Urbnsurf in Melbourne this April for the first time, and was struck at how useful such a facility is to creating better performances. The consistency of the waves and the sections that can be surfed repeatedly provide so much potential for surf performance improvement.

If a surfer has access to a knowledgeable surf coach – better performances can be fast-tracked. The big plus in a wave pool is the ability to train a skill and surf the wave without the variability that occurs in-ocean surfing. Taking away this variability, allows a surfer to stay focused on the task and receive feedback immediately.

But most surfers at Urbansurf that day weren’t working with a coach, and as such [depending on their ability], were having to figure out how to surf the wave and be successful. Many were making consistent errors – so instead of repeats of better surfing, they were repeating surfing errors that with guidance, could have been easily fixed. Some of these errors included:

Getting caught in the lip at take-off – Causes surfers to: 1) Either miss catching the wave altogether 2) Delay the drop – which often resulted in the surfer missing the first maneuver opportunity 3) Or surfers would nose-dive, ending their ride on take-off

Solution: Surfers paddle hard right from the first stroke when catching the wave and continue paddling until they break the ledge on take-off. 

Surfers don’t drive right to the top of their waves – surfing only the bottom half of their waves. This effectively makes turning harder than it should be because of more contact between the surfboard’s surface and the wave. If a surfer drives to the very top of their waves, they create better “release” (easier turning) and as a consequence – throw more spray. 

Solution: Surfers should drive off the bottom to the very top or their wave, high enough so that they break the top fin free as they are performing their maneuver. 

Insufficient head turning during maneuvers – Many surfers look down the line too much when performing their top turns. Looking down the line means little or no head turn and with limited head turn comes limited hip rotation. As a result, “cropped” turns are performed or surfers simply lose their speed. 

Solution: Surfers should turn their head to look to the 6 o’clock position, or back to the base of the foam as they are turning off the top.

Surfers performed snap maneuvers in cutback sections – Performing snaps in flatter cutback sections results in surfers losing their speed and the performance of inferior maneuvers.

Solution: If the wave goes flat and a surfer drives out horizontally from the foam, they should get into the “set” body position as they drive up the wave. This will allow them to drive back to the foam with full speed and hitting power.

Those wave pool surfers who make consistent errors should experiment with the solutions presented in this article and accompanying video. Better surfing will be the result.

More about surf coaching with Martin Dunn available here