surf smile

What Makes Surfers More Successful?

What has success to do with surfing, a sport where the participant is simply gliding down the breaking wave?

Or, how come the average surfer doing better than the rest?

The short answer is that they have to master a long list of unpredictable factors, follow some rules that are set by nature, fail a thousand times, overcome many fears, and maintain a strong physical and mental well-being. That’s not something everyone’s willing to put themselves through to gain satisfaction, but by the end of the day, ALL of those habits listed below are likely to transfer over to a successful personality.

Risk equals the reward, and in this post, we’re going to overlook some of the key ingredients to a surfer’s success.

Smooth seas don’t make good sailors

What is success after all?

According to Wikipedia, success is:

  • The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
  • The good or bad outcome of an undertaking.

Anyone who considers themselves successful is usually the one who has reaped what they’ve stowed. Often, the hardest lessons are the most valuable in life, and the ocean can be a great teacher.




Check out the 13 overlooked habits that make surfers more successful

1) Maintained fitness levels

In order to surf the waves on a regular basis, a surfer has to stay fit. And by fit, we mean fit.

Above-average stamina, advanced balance, increased upper body strength, and of course – cardiovascular fitness with the crucial breath-hold skills. They’ve got the whole package to endure those endless hours of paddling, diving, and the sweetest part of surfing the actual wave. Stepping up the fitness game to surf longer is on their daily grind.


2) They eat well

Another sign that stands out among surfers is their diet. Compared to most other sportsmen – surfers have an appetite for fruits and veggies which helps to speed up their recovery. Usually, when there’s a swell around, it’s there for multiple days in a row, and eating healthy is the only way out.

As you’ve already noticed – most surfers are rather lean, not bulked up.

Many surfers also tend to travel away from their local surf breaks which means they’ll have to eat by the side of the road and explore some new local eateries.


3) Early bird gets the worm

Usually, the best time to surf is during the sunrise when the winds haven’t picked up and the sun is not as intense. Those early mornings are also perfect to surf uncrowded waves. Although it might seem like a lot of work to fight the snooze button, they know all the benefits of waking up early.

surfer running to a wave


4) Vitalized

A term you can’t use for many other sportsmen out there. Sure, everyone who’s into the active lifestyle has the benefit of staying fit – but not as much as being submerged in the water for hours on end. Sunlight and constant flushing of the saltwater are good for the teeth, hair, and skin. They’ll also benefit from a better posture and improved blood circulation.



5) Temperature tolerance

Whether surfing in cold or warm waters – chances are that the water temperatures are generally lower than the air. Over time, surfers have grown a thicker skin which makes them better at tolerating radical temperature changes. They can adapt to harsh conditions with ease.

surfers in the water


6) They enjoy testing their limits

Becoming a good surfer means you’ll have to obviously master the art of surfing. As each wave is different, and so are the days at the surf, surfers are basically experiencing new environments each time. Although surfing isn’t considered a solely competitive sport, but instead an individual sport, you can’t often pick the wave size, but surf what’s out there. Faster & bigger waves = more fun.



7) Not into the comfort zone

Another key point that sets surfers aside from other water-related enthusiasts is their boldness to face some pretty extreme situations. When out in the waves, you can’t simply walk out if the waves get too much for your taste. Sure, you can start paddling towards the shore right away, but if done at the wrong time and in panic – you’re in for a dangerous situation. Stepping out of the comfort zone is a daily habit for a surfer as, after all, it is considered an extreme sport – doing things in environments that are not considered safe.

surfer going in



8) Knowledge of water

It takes a while to wrap your head around how the whole ‘surf stuff’ works – the swells, rip currents, winds, board selection, undertow – you name it. The ocean is unpredictable, something that makes it so tempting and spectacular. A calm and clear sea can have a lot more going on than it looks, and an average surfer is well aware of its dangers.



9) Go with the flow

One of the key points that many self-development books don’t teach is to go with the flow, and not rush things that are not up to you to change. The water and waves have thought surfers to be humble, and enjoy what’s out there. After a while, evaluating risks while surfing comes as second nature.

Many of those habits learned from the waves also make surfers more down to earth, and appreciate the powers of the earth.

be water bruce lee



10) Embrace the suck

They say it’s not the number of wins, but the number of fails a person has to endure and get up again to become successful. Sure, nobody puts themselves into unwanted situations on free will, but that’s been a big part of the game for surfers. They know how to roll with the punches, and still keep that smile on their face. No true surfer quits after a bad wipeout or an accident. They’ll just become better at evaluating risks in the future.



11) Fast adaptation

In the ocean, things can turn to s*it rather quick and surfers are often very experienced in the flight-or-fight situation. Even when paddling to a lineup through a large set of incoming waves that push you away from the course. Are you gliding down a wave and suddenly someone decides to drop in on you, or do you notice a bunch of folks that are paddling through the surf zone? That’s the everyday traffic they’ll have to cope with.

Besides other surfers, there is also the wind, rip currents, and many more factors that require the surf to stay clear-headed and adapt quickly.

surfer exiting a wave



12) Determination

By looking at an average surfer – whether on the beach or at work, they are the ones that don’t stand out by being overly hyped or motivated, but much rather on the other spectrum. Many surfers have the temper of an ocean, and they make the most of what’s out there.

They are using such a basic thing as the surfboard to navigate in those extreme and powerful conditions.

They work smarter, not harder.



13) Know how to lose

Just like embracing the suck – surfers are more likely to succeed due to the combination of failures, going with the flow, and rolling with the punches. By the end of the day, they still put themselves through hardships to enjoy the ultimate outcome. Surfers are well aware of the earned outcome of surfing the waves on a regular basis.

breaking wave cropped



Surfing on a regular basis requires a lot of commitment, and the bar is often set way higher than the average folk could reach. Hopefully, you’d now understand the reasons why you might want to consider a surfer as a part of your team when you’re thinking to co-operate with a surfer. Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments section in case we’ve missed something worth noting. And, don’t hold back, be like the surfers!


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Surf jobs to live the surf-nomad lifestyle

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I created Nulltuul to share my experience, research and analysis with other surf enthusiasts out there. If I'm not surfing on my travels - I like to photograph waves, surfers, and the surf lifestyle in general.

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