So. you’ve been surf­ing ten years and you still can’t com­plete a basic round­house cut­back? Your total lack of coor­di­na­tion and ath­letic pre­dis­po­si­tion can’t shoul­der all the blame. You do have some con­trol over your surf­ing per­for­mance. Here are seven com­mon rea­sons your surf skills may be lacking.

1.You’re not in shapeYou can’t improve your surf­ing if you’re not catch­ing waves. You can’t catch waves if you’re out of shape. Main­tain­ing good surf­ing shape will extend your ses­sions, help max­i­mize your wave count, and give you the req­ui­site sta­mina and sta­bil­ity to actu­ally do some­thing when you catch a wave.

2.You’re not spend­ing enough time in the waterYes, I know. You have a job. You have a mort­gage. You have a lawn. There comes a time in every surfer’s life when he or she must suc­cumb to the pres­sures of mod­ern soci­ety and indi­vid­ual water time inevitably suf­fers. How­ever, if you want to main­tain or improve your surf skills, you need to actu­ally surf. Even get­ting in the water a few times a month will stave off adulthood-induced surf atrophy.

3.You’re not fallingWait, shouldn’t you fall less as you improve? Yes and no. A lot of inter­me­di­ate surfers hit a cer­tain level and plateau for years.  You need to push your­self if you want to improve. More often than not, we get com­fort­able with our reper­toire of moves and stick to a hand­ful of spots and we just kind of coast. Excel­lent surfers con­tinue to push them­selves long after they’ve mas­tered basic com­pe­tency. They surf big­ger waves, they take off deeper, they pull into more bar­rels, they try new maneu­vers, and they strive for harder and faster turns. Basi­cally, if you’re not falling, you’re not try­ing. Fear of look­ing like a kook is one way to ensure that you stay a kook forever.

4.You’re not trav­el­ingThis is directly related to the above sug­ges­tion. Trav­el­ing will push you in every pos­si­ble way ­–– as a surfer and as a human being. Surf­ing big­ger and bet­ter waves will make you a bet­ter surfer, and will help you feel more com­fort­able and com­pe­tent in good waves at home. More­over, see­ing the world is an impor­tant aspect of per­sonal growth regard­less of how it applies to our var­i­ous first-world leisure pursuits.

5.You’re rid­ing the wrong equip­mentUnless you started as a wee grom, you may have learned to surf on a fun­board. That’s okay. Fun­boards are, well, fun, and they are great learn­ing tools. How­ever, they are not con­ducive to pro­gres­sive surf­ing. Once you can ade­quately turn and con­trol your learner board, it might be time to step up to a shorter performance-oriented board or a clas­sic long­board. Alter­na­tively, if you’re rid­ing a six foot potato chip in knee high waves and don’t under­stand why you can’t catch waves, you might need more foam. You need to ride boards that match both the con­di­tions and your abil­ity level.

6.You have no idea what you look likeHon­estly, some­times it’s bet­ter not to know. Some­times it’s bet­ter to main­tain the illu­sion that all your turns have the style and power of a young Tay­lor Knox. Some­times it’s bet­ter to be a leg­end in your own mind. But, if you actu­ally want to improve, you have to know the truth, and the truth invari­ably hurts. Most peo­ple cringe the first time they see their sloppy weak turns and flail­ing style on film. This is a nat­ural part of the process. Once you get over how bad you look you will be able to iden­tify and adjust your flaws. Once you see your mis­takes, you can focus on tak­ing off deeper, crouch­ing lower, and extend­ing your turns fur­ther. Many great surfers are very self-aware and very crit­i­cal. Just don’t take your­self too seri­ously. After all, surf­ing is about fun. Which leads me to the next point.

7.You stopped enjoy­ing itIf you’re not hav­ing fun, you’re doing it wrong. Duke Kahanamoku once famously said “the best surfer out there is the one hav­ing the most fun.” If you’re not hav­ing fun in the water – if every ses­sion is not an expres­sion of pure joy – you will have a hard time achiev­ing com­mu­nion with the ocean.