The Balancing Act
ithout balance, there is no surfing.
It starts with that magical moment when you
release your fingertips from your board and drop
into a wave standing up in perfect balance. But
there is a lot more going on here than you might
Reasearchers have recently been studying the sci-
ence of standing up and are discovering remark-
able complexities. And with the advent of super
micro photography, the actual physical elements
that allow us to balance can now be seen and
analyzed on a intra-cellular level. Our bodies, like
most things in the universe, submit to the laws of
physics. Balance, given such complicated names
by scientists as postural orientation or postural
equilibrium, is controlled by structures in the inner
ear, our eyesight, and our automatic postural ad-
justments brought about by sensory reflexes.
Which is why particularly important in the tube to
keep your eyes level with the land’s horizon. Take
a look at the photos of your favorite surfers and you
will see how true this is. Lousy tuberiders get con-
fused and forget that surfing is a gravity sport that
demands a level horizon whether we are on top of
water or not. Which is why we see bad surfing. If
any one of a surfer’s functions is impaired, either
through trauma or just plain bad technique, the
other functions struggle to compensate resulting in
awkwardness. All you have to do is surf switchfoot
to feel that sensation.
So it may sound simple, but research has shown
us that muscles want to maintain proper posture
based on gravitational pull and balance is thereby
generated by automatic responses that preserve
the vertical orientation of our body mass, mostly
found in our trunk.
In other words, the best tuberiding advice in the
world is bend at the knees not at the waist and
keep your eyes and muscles oriented to the gravi-
tational sense of earth.
It has recently been discovered, and the photos
on this page are proof, that surfers have extreme-
ly well developed balance that is on par with the
world’s best Ballet dancers.
Inner ear, eyesight, and muscular reflexes.
The secrets to discovering what kind of surfers we
want to be.