Fast Tracking Progression – Developing Muscle Memory
What is Muscle Memory?
Muscle Memory is the result of practising and training a movement pattern over and over. It will develop the muscles but mainly the neural pathways between your brain and body. This is key to developing your surfing and progressing.
Neural pathways are easily trained and show results quicker than muscles. Your brain will learn and adapt quickly, memorising the movement patterns. This is seen in the gym: as you start to lift weights, you rapidly progress until the bottleneck becomes your muscles instead of the brain understanding how to do the movement most effectively.
How do you train it?
Repetition, repetition, repetition. This is key. As you go through the drills, it is not a game of how many reps you need to do to move on; it is how many reps until you grasp the movement.
Land Vs Water-based Training
The age-old saying is “just go surf more and you’ll improve”. When you’ve surfed for 2 hours, how much of that time were you actually practising, training the brain and body to move and repeat a movement? Far less.
Land-based training allows you to develop muscle memory quickly. 10-30 minutes a day of muscle memory training on land is huge for your development. It allows your body to remember a movement, which later can be practised in the water.
Success for Water-based Training
While most things can be trained on land first, some can only be trained in the water. Eventually, you will need to take your training to the water to feel it out, make changes and see the results of your training.
When you get to water-based training, the key is to focus on one aspect, one technique or change. Block out everything else. The idea is to progress, not work on 10 things at once.
Pile on small changes over time, and you will see progress. Work on everything at once, and expect to be frustrated.
Example – Water-based Training
If you were to work on the Oreo Biscuit Technique and your ability to catch waves, there are three things to work on and consider:
- Reading the waves
- Feeling the wave’s energy
To do this, start by just watching the surf and surfers, find where the waves are breaking and where the pocket is. Identify where surfers are paddling for the wave, and if they are near the pocket or on the shoulder. Notice the difference between those paddling for the shoulder and those in the pocket. The Oreo Biscuit Technique works best in the pocket.
Once you’ve identified where to sit in the lineup and what surfers are doing it wrong, the next step is to learn to position yourself so you can take off in the pocket. You will need to read the waves and paddle – not to catch the wave where you are, but predominantly to reposition yourself right at the pocket.
Once your positioning is consistent, it’s now time to start focusing on feeling the wave’s energy, feeling that lift, and practising gliding in. A bigger board will make the energy more obvious and easier to tap into. A shorter board will rely more on good positioning.