How to Fight Fear on the Waves
Fear in the sea is a common feeling and is nothing to feel embarrassed about. When we discuss fear in this article, we are referring to seeing a wave and feeling overwhelmed, not going dangerously out of your comfort zone. If you are hoping to one day conquer Nazaré, this may not be quite the article to help you on your journey! Here at F-One, we believe there are small steps you can take to help build your confidence in the ocean.
First of all, find out all you can about the water you chose to ride in. Knowledge is power, and the more you know the better! Be sure to learn about the local rips, where the rocks are and if the beach is lifeguarded. Asking local people and instructors is the greatest way to gain information and could be very educational.
Go in the Sea as Much as Possible
The best way to conquer something is to face your fear. By regularly going in the water as much as you can, you become more familiar with the feeling of unease. It doesn’t have to be the biggest surf all the time; all conditions are helpful when trying to improve anxiety in the water. It is useful to learn to be around people in the sea too, as crowds of people can be unnerving in bigger sets.
Think of a Goal
Decide on what you would like to achieve. Perhaps you have a long-term goal of one day riding in head and a half water? In the meantime, break it down to smaller steps that will help you get you there. Perhaps you need to learn how to turtle roll or duck dive? Maybe you want to make the face of steeper waves? Have a goal for each session, as this will help your mind focus. If there are bigger sets, your goal will keep you on track to overlook the fear until you have got what you wanted from the session.
Surf with a Friend
Sharing your fear is a great way to get through it. By having moral support in the sea, you have a reference of comfort you can relate to if needed. Instead of focussing inward, you can ask for advice and perhaps get some game-changing guidance from someone you trust. For more information about this, take a look at our blog on why you should have a kitesurfing buddy.
Big Surf Requires a Clear Mind
If you are heading into larger surf than usual, clear your mind and get in the zone! Seeing bigger sets can be unnerving and needs your full attention to break through to the outback. Keeping an eye on waves forming is key to avoid getting a surprise wipe-out.
Acknowledge Fear but Don’t Let it Override You
If you have seen Chasing Mavericks, Frosty has educated you on the difference between fear and panic. As previously mentioned, massive sets need a clear mind. To maintain this, you need to keep on top of what you are scared about. By acknowledging it and accepting, your brain is able to keep a focus on how to manage it. By letting panic take over, learning to overcome the fear will be harder as you will refer back to a time where you may not have handled your concern as effectively as possible.
Focus on Breathing
If you do feel yourself to be overwhelmed entirely in bigger surf, take it back to basics and pay attention to your breathing. This is to switch up what your mind is focusing on. Instead of being trapped in your brain, your mind swaps to acknowledging the feeling of breathing. Make sure to take deep breaths and hold them in for one second. When you breathe out, take your time and hold it for another second when you have finished. Continue this and make sure to keep a clearer mind as possible.
Catch a Wave ASAP
To really gauge the waves, you need to get involved as soon as you can! By catching your first wave, you remember a wipe-out isn’t so bad! Just a few seconds under the water and you pop up again. By catching a wave as early as possible, your mind doesn’t have time to wonder and allow fear to set in properly.
Keep a Backup Plan
If you’re heading into a big swell, be sure to have a backup plan if the fear gets too much. Keep hold of this to avoid any panic. For example, if a considerable set takes you by shock, remember you can bail your board and dive under, only if you are free of surrounding people! Being responsible for other people’s safety is a must in the sea. If a set has freaked you out, you can bodyboard back to shore, take a minute to get your thoughts together and try again.
Hopefully, we have helped you to feel more confident in a bigger swell. Be sure to take a look at our kitesurfing equipment in the UK before your next ocean challenge!