Category Surf

Give Me a Break!

The Pros of No Comps For Pros


Wars, nuclear bombs, alien invasions –  these are things you’d think would stop world sport, not an infinitesimal naked-to-the-human-eye molecule dressed in a protein coat, that is, a virus. As COVID-19 spread, so did each government’s rules: no travelling, no competition, no socialisation. But could it benefit our athletes? 

For pro surfers, it has been a good time to rest the body from travelling on those numerous flights, different time zones, and waiting in airports. This meant less time sleeping and consequently, a lack of recovery because it can take four days to fully recover from one hour of lost sleep. Hence, lack of sleep can affect your overall health. 

After 24 hours of interrupted or deprived sleep, how does your body react? The list is long and daunting: tremors, drowsiness, irritability, memory deficits, increase muscle tension, increase risk of accidents or near misses, decrease hand-eye coordination, vision and hearing impairments, altered perception, and impaired decision-making.

The symptoms usually go away once you have had some rest. You can imagine how surfers are impacted-flights can take 8 hours or up to two to three days for athletes to arrive at that their comp location. 

Instead, tour-free surfers are maximising their time doing recovery training, like massage, infrared saunas, ice baths, soft tissue release with a massage ball, and are aiming to get full recovery before starting everything again. On a personal note, infrared saunas are the gateway to a great night’s sleep

Recovering from injury takes time, for instance, a grade-one soft tissue injury can take one to two weeks to recover, while a grade- two injury can take three to four weeks. Although recovery times vary, eating habits, sleeping hours, and getting the right treatment can make a huge difference.

Let’s take John John’s recovery from his ACL surgery last year. We know John John had to return very early to compete at the 2019 Pipe Masters and defend his position to ensure a safe spot for the 2020/21 Tokyo Olympic Games, otherwise Kelly would’ve taken the position. Do you know how long it takes to fully recover from ALC surgery? Returning to sport can occur eight months after surgery at the earliest, but to return at full strength, it’s more likely to be between ten to twelve months. 

Shapers are considered heroes of the surfing industry, and the right equipment is crucial for peak performance. Another advantage of the tour break is that it’s allowed athletes time to spend with their shapers to develop a “perfect” customised board. Filipe Toledo has shaped his own board with his shaper. Jordy Smith flew back home to hang with his dad and try the new SMTH shapes.

Due to extensive travelling, most athletes aren’t spending quality time with their families. Usually they are on the road  competing or have short stints at home, which can impact performance and could make it hard to go back on the road. Hopefully, it will strengthen them for next year’s new chapter. 

Athletes can spend more time with their coaches focusing in adjusting manoeuvres, arm positions, combos, heat strategies and precision. We get to watch some incredible surfing, if we‘re lucky to spot them at our favourite break or enjoy clips they drop on Insta or YouTube.

Although distancing is required, technology has stemmed the gap so coaching is only partially impacted. Videos can be recorded and sent online for analysis and feedback. One-on-one catch ups or video calls can easily be achieved. 

Training can be limited when travelling. It may be difficult to find a gym or place for training. The COVID-19 break, however, shows that no matter where you are-locked at home-there’s no excuse. Exercises, stretches, yoga-whatever class-can be accessed online. During comps, athletes me find it hard to maintain a healthy and well balanced diet. Being at home means well-planned meals, fresh produce and home-cooked food. It’s a perfect time to allow a long-term training routine, adjust the diet, build a smart body and come back more energised. 

The benefit of slowing down is to learn new things, improve on old ones, and practise meditation or re-focussing the mind. Write, read, take an online course-what’s your comp free go-to?

South African pro surfer Matthew McGillivray says, “With everything coming to a standstill this year, it’s a big opportunity to have time to recharge and prepare better for 2021.”

Ellie J. Brooks is making the most of her time off tour. “These couple of months have really allowed me to get my priorities right and work smart,” she says. “I have time to get my business up and running, to improve my health, to have a great training program that I can stick to longer than a month.” 

We can’t forget about the rookies. It’s a battle to qualify and enter the WSL dream tour. It would’ve been so exciting to start the year on the Gold Coast but-bang! Everything went down. A feel luckily ones got stuck in Australia and gorged on the waves from Queensland’s cyclone season. COVID-19 has given everyone a chance to reflect, re-set, and forcefully enjoy some recreational time. Weird…it took an unseen thing to see life more clearly.

Whatever your age or fitness level – even if you’ve never exercised a day in your life – there are steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and painful and more fun and instinctive.

Research shows that self-compassion increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any given endeavor. So, don’t beat yourself up about your body, your current fitness level, or your supposed lack of willpower. All that will do is demotivate you. Instead, look at your past mistakes and unhealthy choices as opportunities to learn and grow.