10 Tips to Improve Your Stoke

I think we’re all guilty of overusing the word stoke at times. But hey, there are worse things to feel guilty about than using a term that defines excitement, passion and exuberance, right? Sometimes it’s easy to lose the stoke when life gets in the way. Here are some ideas to get it back. Keep in mind there’s no manual on stoke. No “Stoke for Dummies” book. So here are some ideas by a stoke seeking devotee.

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1. Move away from the ocean. Huh? WTF am I talking about? Well hear me out on this. Since moving three hours from the water four years ago, my passion and stoke for the ocean and waves has increased ten fold. I live in the mountains between swells and try to apply the lessons learned in the water to the mountains – carving down a mountain on a bike or a snowboard or even “mind surfing” a river rapid. Thanks to the beauty (and curse!) of surf forecasts, I can plan things out ahead of time for when the swell does arrive, and my desire to be in the water is incredible. Maybe it’s like the old boxing rule that you don’t have sex before a big fight. The build up, the discipline and the desire grows and when it’s on..it is ON. And if it works for Gerry Lopez…

2. Go on a surf trip every week. OK, so without giving away the farm, it is possible to go on surf trips more often than you think. Be creative! A journey or “trip” does not have to cost $1200 dollars and include a rough pat down and light fondle at an airport by a large hairy man wearing purple gloves. Take a different path to your break or, better yet, look around once in a while. Maybe hike or, hell, ride a bike into a spot or really live on the edge and (gasp!)…hitchhike. Carpool with a friend to a new break for a weekend. Anything to mix it up and pretend you’re somewhere exotic even though there’s a Best Buy and Costco two miles away. Make it a surf adventure to remember!

3. Turn your standard thruster into a workbench or coffee table. You know it’s the current trend to ride something different. Josh Kerr is riding single fins in ways most of us wish we could ride a thruster or quad. Grab some girth, add some foam, go longer, go shorter. Mix it up, try something new and you’ll be amazed at what it’ll do for your surfing. Worse case scenario? You can trade coffee tables if you don’t like it.

4. Cleanup. There’s nothing like taking the bull by the horns and cleaning up even when no one’s looking and clean up the ocean. Grab a trash bag, a friend or 10 and pick up some trash at your local spot(s) or, for that matter, ANY spot. I wish it were easy to find humor in the current state of our coastal environments, but there’s no laughing matter on this one.

5. Train. Ah, the horror! I’m a surfer damn it! The ocean is my gym. Blah, blah, blah. Well, for some of us that aren’t able to surf everyday and who aren’t 22 years old, it doesn’t hurt to put some time into the old temple. You don’t need a “gym” to train. Make it fun. Try some Parkour, Capoeira or Yoga or just get outside and run around, lift some stones, do some pull-ups and push-ups and work out that rust. Jump on an Indo Board. And cross training is invaluable. Snowboard, bike, or grab a SUP when it’s flat, wakeboard, play ultimate frisbee, whatever. Your body will thank you, trust me. Check out the Yoga Girl video if you need some inspiration!

6. Teach a friend to surf. Watching a friend or loved one catch on to the reason why you’ve sabotaged any chance at a real career is awesome. It’s especially good watching your girlfriend get into it. “See why I was late all those times, honey?” It can be quite the rush to see her suspended in the lip for a moment and then hurled through the air. Hey, on second thought, maybe this section should be called “teach your boss or mother in law to surf.”

7. Film yourself. Well…again, this one could go either way. Once you see how you really look, it can make you want to make improvements to what may have seemed like a bullet proof technique. The new surf headcams (like the GoPro) are getting pretty spiffy these days if you want to film yourself. Just don’t get frustrated when you realize how you look on film – the camera always adds pounds, subtracts feet off your airs and amplifies the dreaded “stinkbug.”

8.Turn your pad into a temple of aloha. Serve up those surf books, vids, magazines, surf colors, and pin up those pics of you in all your stinkbug glory on the wall. Maybe even some slightly predictable Hawaiian print sheets and surf wax candles. Get creative with some bright spray paint and blast some stuff. Whatever feeds the stoke. A good selection of surf mags for the bathroom always helps too. And, of course, see Tip #3 and maybe make a board into a table.

9. Slide on snow. The feeling of ripping through fresh powder and slashing turns is pretty darn close to the real thing. There are even times these days that in big storms, I will actually choose my snowboard over my surfboard. Burton is even making a board called a Fishcuit these days that, you guessed it, is wide and short and has a rockered nose so you don’t pearl into a tree. And again, if it works for Gerry Lopez, then it has to be cool.

10. Quit surfing. Get a real job, move to the Midwest, go to jail, etc. Any of these quickly make you realize that was the biggest mistake of your life and you will absolutely remember to never stop surfing. Ever. The world, or at least your world, will be better for it. Pura Vida from Dr. Stokington!

By: Skye Nacel | The Inertia

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