The best pro surfers in the world couldn't survive in a competition circuit without heat tactics. Strategy, mind games and self confidence play a crucial role in professional surfing.
There's too much at stake when you're trying to ride the best waves. Money, glory, points and potential future sponsors.
A successful surfer has preferences while competing in a man-on-man or four-man heat format. There are three grand blocks of surf strategies: psychological, wave selection and time management. They are all relevant and may be adopted at the same time.
Tuning the mind, as revealed in Richard Bennett's "The Surfers Mind", is a key training tool that every pro wave rider should carefully develop. Many surfers don't understand why their first heats are radically worse than the following ones.
Surf psychology can also be applied to the opponent. Snaking, smiling, staring, yelling could be effective if you know exactly what you're doing and who you're trying to unrest.
Wave selection is also often used to fire up the nerves of surf opponents. Some surfers tend to score the maximum possible points in the early moments of the heat in order to put pressure on the other surfer's shoulder.
Also, when holdi
ng a priority, a surfer may give the idea he is paddling for a wave he wants, but then he pulls out in the last second leaving his opponent confused. The "indie" surfer is the one who chooses a totally different peak and waits patiently for the million dollar wave. Domination of the peak is also a very common tactical surf move. It builds confidence and raises instability in the opponent's mind.
Surfers may surf many waves or very few rides, whether they want to impress judges or opponents in the lineup. The family, friends and brand managers also play an important role. There are many pro surfers that prefer to be alone before a heat, while others search words of comfort and confidence from their close peers.
Praying and stretching before hitting the water are also ways of finding yourself before the match of your life. While paddling out, surfers talk to themselves and inject self confidence.
Is there a winning surf tactic formula? Absolutely not, but if you balance all these variables with your inner talent you will be mentally and physically fit to battle for victory in every heat.