Fear and surfing

Fear in surfing

The secret

Always very low as if they are whispering a secret to my ear, those that just started surfing recently usually share with me this one thing: they felt afraid at some point. Their shaky voice carry some shame, as if feeling fear is something that unusual, an emotion that should make you feel everything but pride.

For some foreign reason to me, they believe that fear should not be present in the surfing equation. They have this belief where the sport must provide an adrenaline rush that puts you on peak state, and that if you are not able to reach this state it means you are doing something wrong. They have assumed that you are expect to enter into that state and remain in it for the entire session, while fear never shows up.

The cowards

What’s been stated is a false belief that makes some think they are not a good fit for surfing, that they are some kind of babies that can not handle it. They wrongly assume they should quit to dedicate their time to something much easier and comfortable, just because they have been afraid at some point.

Because they have been told that getting into the water, being beaten and battered by the waves and spend what it feels like hours at a time underwater should be fun, all the time. No one told them that enduring all of that is a key component of the process to get to enjoy surfing, and some times it is not fun at all, but necessary.

Fear in surfing

Fear in surfing

And frustrated they stop going to the beach, because no one ever told them that every single surfer has been afraid at one point (and surely will be again) on each one of the learning stages. We all have been afraid of things like big waves, falling from the surfboard, hitting the bottom or spending too much time underwater.

The list of stressing elements while on top of a surfboard is long, and it would be stupid to ignore its effects on  each one of us. Fear is a primal, disgusting, uncomfortable and ugly emotion to an extent that will make us avoid every single activity that makes us feel it. But in surfing we have to be willing to experience it, we have to search for it, because this is an essential piece in order to get all the good things this sport has to offer.

Embracing it

If you are starting with surfing you have to know that you must embrace fear the same way you do with an old friend: understanding the relationship you share in order to love her. And this requires a process where you have to be exposed to stressful situations gradually, learning and understanding on each step how our body and mind are reacting to the conditions. You should not look to eliminate this feeling, but understand how it affects you in order to control it.

Each person has a different fear tolerance and has to adapt the mentioned learning process to her needs. It it absolutely crucial that this exposure is done step-by-step, experimenting with our emotions and feelings, understanding, for example, how bigger waves makes us react or what happens when we spend more time than expected under water.

One of the best ways to expose our body one step at a time is through a surf school, where the instructors will guide you through the whole process. They have created systems that incorporate several techniques that allow rookies to learn to manage fear at the same time they learn to stand-up.


Surf school. Image: www.booksurfcamps.com

One of the best ways to expose our body one step at a time is a surf school, where the instructors will guide you through the whole process. There you’ll get tailored lessons where you’ll be taught how to embrace surfing from every perspective.

When you decide to start surfing, choose to do it at your own pace, aware that part of the process consists in managing some unpleasant emotions. This sport is about embracing, accepting, managing and integrating them into the set of ones you are looking to feel. It is going to help you look for fear, because once you make it yours, you will want to spend time with it.


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