5 Mistakes You Make Every Time You Paddle Out

Brad Gerlach is a 40-something former world No. 2 currently living in the city of Angels. He puts honey in his hive with a little modeling, consulting and surf coaching.

Last September, he performed in a heritage heat at the Hurley Pro, Trestles, squashing the 1989 world champ turned commentator Martin Potter a little too easily.

What interests about Gerr is his ability to get inside the technique of the best, and the worst, surfers.
As in guys like Jordy Smith and Dane Reynolds and as in guys and girls like you and me. Every time we paddle out, says Gerr, we make five fundamental errors.


1. Our expectations are too high
You set yourself up for failure by having high expectations. You’ll look at the waves and already you’ll be thinking how you’ll be catching this wave, ripping on that wave. But when you get out, you’re already on a  backward rhythm because of your inflated expectations. If it doesn’t happen immediatley you start to panic. Maybe you paddle out in a lull and you don’t even see a set for 20 minutes. You start to get frustrated and it impacts on your surfing. So the number one thing is to lower your expectations. Take it all the way back. Imagine how good it’ll feel just to paddle out and do that first duck-dive. I never have bad surfs anymore and I used to have ’em all the time just because I set myself such high expectations. Surfing shouldn’t be painful.

2. You think too much

Surfing’s not about thinking it’s about … feeling. People forget the reason they got into surfing was because it’s fun. I know there’s all kinds of clichés around the surfing-is-fun thing, but you take the fun out of it if you think too much. If you find yourself getting frustrated it’s because you’re thinking and not feeling.

3. Your posture is wrong

Nobody in any sport can progress without a good posture and, in surfing, your back is the control center. The thing is, our consciousness is usually in our head because our eyes are there, and so people will bend their body in a way to get their head closer to the water. It’s a huge mistake. Your butt needs to go down toward the Achilles tendon, but if you put your head down toward the water your butt sticks up in the air. That’s the biggest mistake I see. That’s why Jordy surfs so good. His ass is on the ground! John John stands tall, but when he turns he drops his butt. Dane does it better than anybody.4. You wave your arms
Your arms cannot be moving. They’re an enhancement of whatever the middle of the body is doing. Doing things with your arms doesn’t do a thing. Every coach out there that I read talks about arms — put your arms here, put your arms there — but you can’t put your arms anywhere if your body doesn’t turn. It’s your torso and your pelvis and your hips that need to move.

5. Sometimes it just ain’t your day
You can’t force surfing. Sometimes it’s not your day and that’s no biggie. Maybe the next day you’ll be on. No amount of being mad or aggro is going to change it. The only way to move forward is to be calm. Get out of the water, get a drink of water, even go home and swing back the next day.

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