Fear in the water – how to deal with it


Written by NOMB Surf




No doubt that surfing is our passion, our sport and our favorite thing to do. Small waves, big waves, longboarding, shortboarding – we love it all. But sometimes there is this little thing, called being scared or fear of surfing or bigger waves – a really ugly thing to deal with but not impossible!

“I have days, where I can surf waves up to 2 meters easily, and then out of nowhere I get scared when I see waves that are bigger than a meter or a lot of people in the water! I feel like my mind is totally blocked and can’t do anything else but sitting in the channel and waiting for the tiny little waves that will pass by from time to time…”

I bet that a few of you also had this feeling from. Well if you started surfing before walking you probably don’t know this feeling, but the surfers amongst us who started a “little bit later” might know what we are talking about here 😉 . It doesn’t matter in which situation (bigger waves, lots of people) you feel this “fear”, the question is how to overcome it in general.

Let’s start from the beginning guys, first of all you have to figure out, what this fear is about, meaning what are the roots of it. We’re not psychologists, but there are a few simple things that you can consider.


Did something happen? And what exactly are you scared about while surfing?

Ask yourself the question! Did you hava a really bad wipeout once and got stuck under water really long? Or maybe you lost your surfboard once because the leash broke and you just felt alone in the water and also felt how strong the ocean and the currents are without a surfboard? Or is your fear of surfing coming out of nowwhere and you just feel mentally blocked?

Try to find the trigger for your being scared in the water, that’s the first step! So when you feel uncomfortable in the water, when this happens to you, you might feel like you are not controlling the situation – your surfing and you being out there in the line up. No matter what, don’t give up, sit down in the channel, take a few deep breaths and focus on what you might be scared of. Maybe you just want to step up from surfing small waves and start surfing bigger waves? We are not talking about surfing Nazaré tomorrow, but it would be nice to surf steeper and maybe overhead waves to bring your surfing to the next level. So go deep in yourself and think about what exactly you are scared of, cause only if you know what’s triggering this fear, you can work on it!


So what can you do to overcome your fear of surfing (bigger waves)?

First of all you should focus on yourself and your body! That means stay fit! If you’re body is charged to 100% (which means your fitnesslevel, your awareness and your consciousness) you will feel way more comfortable in the water. As this is not coming out of nothing, you have to do something for it! Yoga for example is a good supplement or your surfing, it does not only help you to achieve more balance in your body but also being awareof the right breathing can help you to calm you down in moments where you might feel uncomfortable in the water. If you are scared of wipeouts, improve your “holding your breathe” technique. In the end it is just water, you will always come up again. But if you know, that you are able to hold your breath long enough, probably you won’t be scared of the next wipe out in a big wave and will just go for it.

It might also help you to go surfing with a person you trust and who knows the surfspot very well. It should be a really good friend if he will sit there with you to give more selfconfidence instead of surfing nice waves ;)) but maybe you’ll have this one good surfbuddy who will help you to get your confidence back. With these people you also might “go for something that you are scared of”. Cause you know that they won’t let you die when your leash breaks or you will be stuck under water for a while 😉 oh yes, and if you are scared of bigger waves, wipeouts or something else, even if the lineup is empty don’t go alone in the water.


Don’t let the fear eat you but also don’t pressure yourself too much!

You have to find the slim line between getting out of your comfort zone and not putting too much pressure on your surfing. Go and take a risk sometimes, to grow with your fear and overcome it (make sure you won’t hurt people with your surfboarf during a possible wipeout ;)), and you will see what’s the “worst thing” that can happen to you on this day – and maybe if you take a risk you will have the wave of the day! (To take “risks” for yourself make sure your body is well prepared for it like mentioned above!) And if you go a step back in the sense of surfing smaller waves a few days or for a while – well that’s life and absolutely not a bad thing! You have to feel comfortable and believe in yourself! And the most important thing: Never forget that surfing should be fun! Grab your friends and go for a Foamie Fun Session on a small day – it will bring your smile back and make you forget that you are scared of this water =)




Start a surflog to focus more on your good days!

The fear of surfing and bigger waves is just in your mind! So free it! Maybe to start a surflog is a good idea for you to focus on what’s going on in your mind. Start to write down how you feel before and after the session, how you surfed the waves, how many, which goals you set yourself, if you achieved them and so on. Also note the swell- and wave size and direction as wall as the wind. This will help you also to feel more comfortable with your surfspot cause you will have your own experiences what you could accomplish on a surfing day on paper. That might push your selfconfidence, cause you know you can do it!

Check your equipment

Especially if you are afraid of breaking your leash and be out there alone in the ocean, we have a pretty simple first step solution for you: Go and buy you a new leash every few months! These 30 bucks are definitely worth it 😉

Also ask yourself if you feel comfortable with your surfboard. It should be you and your surfboard against the rest of the world. Well of course not like this, but maybe you feel it is too long or too short for you. So go and change it! It isn’t the end of the world if you take “a step back” from your shortboard to a minimalibu or even a softtop if that makes you feel much more secure (by the way, surfing with a softtop is actually such a fun thing, look at all these Mick Fannings and Jamie O’Brians who developed their own softboard brands).

Also go and check your wetsuit, espceially if you are a surfer who tends to freeze like hell. Your body won’t be charged a 100% if it also has to concentrate on this “freezing cold water”. If you spend money for a good wetsuit you will have one thing less to worry about in the water – you see figthing your fear starts with eliminating all the small avoidable problems you could have  😉

Go and get yourself a private surfcoaching!

Besides of setting yourself small goals (like every day a little bit closer to the peak) go and get yourself a private surfcoaching! Cause you will never have learned enough in this kind of sports, every day is different! And if you have someone from the outside, who also helps you to understand the ocean environment and improves your surfing skills, you will have it way easier!

Just one important thing to remember: overcome your fear of surfing but always maintain your respect of the ocean!



Sea you in the water soon!



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