You might work or you study or whatever, but you have to make surfing your number one obsession. You wonder why kids go from knee-riding their little foam beaters one summer to throwing their fins like javelins the next? It's because their hard-drives are filled with one thing: surfing. They're not wondering about who's going to win the Super Bowl or ways to corner the cute co-worker or how to find the next hip bar. Surfing. That's it. Clear your CPU. Surfing. Surfing. Surfing. You want to improve rapidly? Live it.
2. Surf in contests
If you don't already, enter every contest you can find. No one likes to fail and the perpetual spectre of losing is what sharpens the contest surfer's act. He takes off already banking the first two turns and is thinking of the third not wondering if he's going to make the takeoff. The hoary old cliche is that contest surfers aren't creative. Tell that to Jordy or Julian or Gabriel or Felipe.
3. Find one clip that turns you on.
Dusty Payne's section in "Lost Atlas" is a popular clip among the upper rungs of surf stardom. Why? The way he delays his spin in his air revs. Find the one clip that appeals to you and watch it endlessly but not mindlessly. If you drive to surf, watch it two times before you paddle out. Know where the surfer puts his feet, how he rotates his shoulders, what his hips do in a turn. When you paddle out, convince yourself you're that surfer.
4. Waste waves
This is tough and may seem against the laws of surfing, but you're going to have to waste a lot of waves to get better. But what else are you going to do? Are you really going to paint the same lines, tag the same sections for the rest of your life? Every single wave is an opportunity to break out of your old habits. You want an air game? Forget the roundhouse cutbacks and the snaps. Race (or stall) and fly. And fly only.
5. Get dropped in on by better surfers
There's no better way to see how the best approach a wave than by being behind 'em in real time. There's a World Tour event nearby? Go and surf with the heavy pack. Take off, don't yelp, and examine, from your ringside seat, how the best play the game.