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5 barriers female surfers face that STOP them surfing on the regular.

femalesurfcoaching femalesurfers surfconditioning surftraining surftrainingforwomen womenwhosurf Jul 10, 2021
Female surfer walking to the beach with surfboard

Plus tried and tested ways you can overcome these yourself!

A frustrating fact of surfing is that to improve your surfing skills, you need more time in the water. Surfing is a sport that is best learnt through repetition, and as much as we try to mimic it with other activities, NOTHING else improves your surfing like surfing. But what if you cannot make it to the water on the regular? Is it worth throwing in the towel? Is it a matter of sighing and accepting that you will always be at this level of surfing? Do you forget your dream of surfing that perfect, peeling barrel?

The consequences of not surfing on the regular are not only a plateau in skill level and drop in fitness. Not surfing regularly is an anxiety creating situation. I hear it in our language - “argh! I missed the last swell again!” “It’s been two weeks since my last surf!?”.  It is disheartening, a perpetual treadmill of “surfing like a beginner”, feeling out of tune, disconnected and as if you are learning how to turn all over again.  

These feelings are the real deal and it is important to note one thing:  they are FEELINGS. Key to the challenges of surfing regularly are physical constructs such as time, business, location and family priorities. However, for females, there are underlying issues that challenge us differently to men, very much underpinned by social-emotional factors such as our feelings. Yes, you may be pushed for TIME but, as a female, you are also less likely to prioritise surfing due to feelings of GUILT associated with putting your own needs before someone else's. 


5 barriers females face to surfing regularly

GUILT is a big issue for me personally and my number one challenge to time in the water. I could ask my friends to babysit whilst I go for a shred - but I feel guilty about that. I could prioritise my surfing on my ‘day off’ - but I have washing to do and grocery shopping and all the things to catch up on with my businesses. Scheduling a lunch break or a later start is an option - but don’t my clients need me? Should I really be enjoying myself, paddling around when I have other priorities that are far more important?’ 

But it’s not just guilt that can stop female surfers from regular ocean time. Research indicates that other social-emotional barriers impact a female’s regular participation in sport, including: 

  • Fear of judgement
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Poor confidence in ability

Which of these resonate with you? In a recent survey of our @thefemalesurfer community, where we polled the above barriers, feelings of INADEQUACY and POOR CONFIDENCE in ability received  the most votes. Both of which can be associated with a sense of insufficiency, deficiency, incompetence and potentially low self-esteem, impacting decision making due to fear of making mistakes and letting other people down. Oh dear.

It is no wonder then that reform is being called upon, regarding ways in which associations and coaches support a female's journey in her sport of choice. What can we do at home though? What changes can be made to our own schedules, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours, that will enable surfing on a regular basis? And how can we do our bit to support each other? 

I am by no means a psychologist, I am an Exercise Scientist and Physiologist. But I have majored in sports performance for over a decade, been mindful of my own barriers to surfing, clocked some serious experience with these challenges as an elite athlete AND I have specifically worked with female surfers  for the last 7 years. So I have a few practical tips and strategies that can help us all. 



Time (guilt)

Remember that the emotional barrier behind TIME is often GUILT around prioritising surfing for yourself over your other responsibilities. You are the Captain, the First Mate, the Second Mate and half the crew of your sailing ship. Without you, the ship cannot sail - so prioritising your well-being is a MUST. My tip? Actually schedule surfing as a self care activity in your diary - rank it as highly as your most important business meeting. 

Fear of judgement, feelings of inadequacy, lack of self-esteem, 

I grouped these together because they are all situations where we can use an external tool to hone our minds, narrow our focus and draw ourselves away from our female brain bias for worry and attention to the opinions of others. FOCUS can become your best friend and I have a great tried and tested resource to help you with this. (see link below)

Low confidence in ability 

Three practical ways you can improve your confidence in your ability are:

  1. Get a coach so you have some tips to improve your surfing - if money or location are an issue, online coaching is a great option.
  2. Improve your physical condition for surfing - this is a big one and one backed by World Champion Chelsea Hedges. Feeling fit in the water and capable of getting yourself out of more dangerous situations can go a long way to improving your confidence. 
  3. Tribe up. Sharing the journey with like-minded women can help you normalise your experiences AND help you find a group of women to surf with, that push you just the right amount, whilst hooting you all the way!

The Female Surfer was created to help women surf their best waves possible. I recognised long ago that gender specific conditioning was not going to be the whole story for helping women and girls to achieve this goal. Females are different. Period. Our biology, psychology and social constructs shape our experiences of surfing so differently to men. As such, I have spent YEARS developing an online training platform that educates, empowers, conditions, enlightens and supports female surfers across their lifespan - whilst also creating an opportunity for social change.  An online option means that location and time don't need to be a barrier. Our surf coaching and conditioning training will improve your confidence by feeling fitter, stronger, wiser, happier, more robust and capable in the ocean. Health education and sharing your surfing journey with our community means that you don’t have to feel alone in your experiences. We are about normalising and validating your challenges, whilst giving you the tools you need to surf your best waves.

We understand the barriers that females experience with surfing. We’ve got you. 

Need help with your self-esteem, fear of judgement or low confidence in the water? Sign up for our free resource “The Female Surfer Focus Tool”. Designed with the female brain in mind, along with the unique challenges that women face with surfing, we have designed this simple and effective tool to help you overcome these barriers. Surf more. Surf better. Click on the link below and grab your copy today!

The Female Surfer FOCUS tool

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