Coaching Jason Podcast

Meet Jason.  Jason is software developer and web marketer from Santa Monica.  He started kite surfing in 2007 and in 2011 found paddle surfing.  About a year ago he stumbled across paddlewoo, listening to the podcast and reading the journal he decided that for his 40th birthday he’d like to come train at Blue Zone in Costa Rica.

Jason is an intermediate paddle surfer with a high degree of comfort in the ocean.  He catches a ton of waves, gets down the line easily and is working on more advanced turns.  He’s a great representative for the passionate paddle surfer who has more love than time, but is driven to progress.

His goal for the trip – to progress “a few years of California surfing in a week.”  A lofty goal, but one he thinks he achieved.

Jason’s progression on the Backside Slingshot Bottom Turn in 5 days.  Notice shoulders, head, paddle, hand position, paddle position and weighting.

I’ve wanted to do a podcast with a guest for a while now, and Jason proved to be the right person.  His approach to learning and ability to articulate what he’s feeling will resonate with a lot of you reading.  I highly recommend that you listen to the whole podcast and I believe it to be the most valuable I’ve recorded for the intermediate surfer who listens for tips to improve.

There is also value for the industry guys that listen as Jason is your ideal customer.  In fact we are now in a discussion about what board is next in Jason’s race down in volume, and he’s ordering a 27 North Paddle, and getting the 20% paddlewoo discount.  You can too.

Here’s some notes about the show:

  • We discuss the book Peak, by Anders Ericsson, at great length.  I might make this mandatory reading for anyone coming down to train.  Jason read it on the trip and we spent mornings over bulletproof coffee discussing its application in paddle surfing.  Peak is about the journey to mastery though deliberate practice.  It’s why I started the progression journal – to stay focused on deliberate practice in my surfing, and it’s paying massive dividends.
  • Backside Slingshot Bottom Turn – Living in Santa Monica, Jason surfs a lot of rights.  His main goal was to improve his backside surfing.
  • Seated Pop-up – Jason credits learning the seated pop-up as a massive energy saver.  We surf a lot and you want to save your energy for surfing, not just paddling around waiting for waves, but if you’re not efficient in transition between sitting and standing you’ll miss waves and burn energy.
  • Stroke Technique and Paddle Length – Jason brought his own paddle down.  Probably a 95 sq. in. blade, and cut at 4 inches over height.  He used it once then dropped down to forehead height, 85 sq. in. blade, and never went back.  On the show he discusses the paddle, changing his stoke and the net affect on wave count and fatigue.
  • Jason tells a story about surfing in crowds and not realizing the impact he was having riding a bigger board.  He was on a voluminous 8.6 and taking off way out the back, thinking no one else could catch the waves.  Then, after dropping down to the Rawson 7.10 he had to take off inside, where the longboarders sat, and other paddle surfers were taking off farther out on waves he wanted.  He realized that until he dropped down in size he was taking waves that others could have caught and didn’t realize it.  It changed his mindset about surfing in crowds.  Here’s a piece I wrote with my strategies for surfing in lineups.

If you liked this post, you’ll love coming down to train in Costa Rica with Oscar and I.  Inquire below for fall/winter dates.

A visual of paddle effect

The paddle enhances surfing.  It allows you to drive a big board with incredible force.  Surfing a big board lets you catch more waves and go faster and the paddle allows you to drive the big board in radical ways.

These photos show the effect of a paddle.  Above the paddle is loaded, the photo below shows the release of the force.

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The Most Fun

There’s a saying in surfing that the best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.  That’s true, but I’d also argue that the surfer having the most fun is the best surfer.

This morning over breakfast Jason and I were having the progression vs. fun discussion.  I’ve blogged about it before, but the gist is that on a week trip you need to decide how to spend your time in the water.  The options are:

  1. Focusing on wave count and maximizing surfing time (Fun)
  2. Purposefully drilling on specific skills, surfing outside your comfort zone, and working to get better (Progression)

In the first journal about the progression vs. fun decision I didn’t give adequate motivation to focus on progression.  While you can have fun at any level in the sport, surfing at a higher level is much more fun.

Would you rather drive a minivan or a Formula 1?

Here are a few moments you don’t get at the beginning of the learning curve.  I hope they provide motivation to work hard and improve.

  • Late drops – Taking off late on a steep wave gets heart pumping.  Looking over the ledge, not sure if you’ll make it, but knowing you’ve got a shot, then making it.
  • Fast, high lines – Once you’ve mastered trim and pumping there’s nothing more fun that high-lining a walled up section.  Stuck in no man’s land with the lip pitching out in front of you and not enough time to get to the bottom – then making it.
  • Huge bottom turns – Making the drop on a good sized wave and putting everything on rail, paddle bending but holding, fins holding and slingshotting at the lip.
  • Lip-line floaters – Flying down the wave, coming off of a high-line section and riding the breaking lip line down, it feels like jumping down a set of stairs, but with a foaming monster chasing you.
  • Barrels – I probably could have just listed barrels.  If you’ve listened to Keahi’s podcast, you heard him say it’s his favorite moment on anything he rides.  It’s mine too.  Words can’t describe it, so I won’t try.  But it’s worth all the work and time and expense.  And it’s more fun than almost anything else on the planet.

I won’t say that beginning the learning curve in a surfing sport isn’t fun.  Catching your first waves, making your first lines – it’s all magic.  I’m having a blast watching my kids go through the experience.  And it’s good that you have to go though all the steps to get there, because if you just went out and pulled into a big barrel on your first day, unprepared mentally by years of practice , your mind explode.

So, value to process, and know the best awaits.

Coaching Jason – Part 1

This week we’re running a private coaching retreat for Jason, and you’re coming along for the ride.  Jason has followed Paddlewoo for a while, first the blog, then the podcast and decided to come down to paradise to up his game and score some beautiful surf.  I’m stoked that he agreed to let me journal the week.

If you’d like to reach out to Jason about web development, check out  He’s crazy talented, and only focuses on larger projects, so don’t hit him up if your company doesn’t have serious backing.  I appreciate the help he’s given me for

Ok, back to surfing.  Jason is a solid paddle surfer at the intermediate level.  He surfs a Rawson 7.10 at 97 liters and weighs about 150 pounds.  He catches waves no problem, but still favors frontside to backside.  His strongest maneauver is the frontside bottom turn.

This week we’re focusing on building a technical foundation of the basics, there will be some tweaks to stance and paddle mechanics, along with getting more radical in turns and drawing cleaner lines.

Conditions have lined up with a nice size SW swell running.  We’ll have plenty of options including beach and reef breaks.

Here’s a few shots and thoughts from our first morning’s session.

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This  is a solid bottom turn.  We’re drilling on extension of the paddle out in front of the front foot, getting back on the tail which will make the board come around faster and getting out farther in front of the wave before starting the turn.

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As folks transition from larger to smaller boards the stance trails in the progression.  There is value in paddling in a parallel stance on larger boards, but as performance increases and waves are more critical, surf stance becomes necessary.  Here Jason is about to jump from parallel to surf while catching a wave.  This throws variability into a critical situation and increases the chance of falling.

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After a good bottom turn, but one placed on the face of the wave, Jason has good form coming off the top.  To maximize this turn the rail should have been set before the paddle is engaged, and paddle should extend farther before engaging.  These are simple tweaks that significantly enhance the lines Jason is drawing.

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We’ve got some room to grow on the backside slingshot bottom turn.  Here’s the guide to see Fisher Grant in action.

When Jason is switching the paddle from toe to heel side he’s flipping it.  You’ll notice it’s backwards for paddling.  That w0n’t make a difference in the turn, but should he need to paddle it won’t be effective.

The beauty of the slingshot turn is that it forces technique.  The proper technique is an opening of the shoulder to the wave and the eyes/head looking at the lip and oncoming section.  Jason is super strong, and from his kiting background he’s fighting the paddle and anchoring his body in a closed position which is slowing his turn.  This makes sense in kiting where you lean against the kite to set the rail, but in paddle surfing you need to follow the paddle.

Front arm should extend out into the center of the turn and act as an anchor.  Keeping the front arm in drags the paddle instead of allowing it to plant.

You’ve heard me say it before and I’ll continue to say it – When you feel like you’re back far enough, move back.  Get to your tail and everything all things turning will be easier.

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Jason is pretty close to doing a nice man-hack here.  This is an advanced level turn.  Some notes:

Velocity is essential for big turns.  While the mechanics here are pretty good, there wasn’t enough speed to carry the turn.

Placement is low.  Given the option, always hit the oncoming lip.  The higher you hit the wave the more potential energy you have, height and grade, so coming out of turns is easier.

Extend.  Our key word for the week is Extend.  In frontside bottom turns, backside bottom turns, and frontside hacks Jason will advance when he extends into the turns.  This will come with practice and comfort.  Extending means coming out of your comfort zone and being off balance for a second.  It’s the beauty of the paddle, allowing you to force positions that are unrecoverable without, but you’ve got to trust it and that takes some time.

Stay tuned for Day 2 of the journey!  Jason said he scored the best waves of his life and is already making progress on his backside surfing.

Contact us to come train and surf in paradise!!!


Hydrofoil, Different Sports of SUP and Chinese Crap Boards

It’s been a banner week for the family in the water.  The lead in photo is from this morning.  After a run of the biggest surf in the past few years, the Pacific went docile and local weather has been mellow making for massive family fun out front.  My goal as been to get the monsters on their own, so I could still grab waves and yesterday was our first day where we were all surfing.  The problem is that they follow me around and then ask me to push them into the best waves 😉  I’ve explained they have a few more months of that, then we’re battling.

There are so many beautiful ways to enjoy the ocean, seeing it anew through the eyes of your children might be the best.

Yesterday I posed some questions in the journal.  One was about the new hydrofoil trend that’s sweeping the internets.  Is it a good thing for paddle surfing?  Most of the responses, and I’m stoked you guys are chiming in with some excellent thoughts/ideas – folks who read paddlewoo spend time thinking about our sport – didn’t think that hydrofoil was good or bad, just a passing trend.

To that point, I agree.  I think it will prove too difficult to surf, too annoying to transport and too dangerous in lineups to take off.

But, the hydrofoil in the surf, the supsquatch, and guys BBQing or surfing on lawn chairs marginalize the sports of paddle surfing and racing.  Outsiders view those images and those associations are sticky.  It makes the path to legitimate sport that much harder.

Especially the BBQing and chair surfing.  I cringe every time I see a popular magazine run a photo of someone being an idiot on a paddle board.  It’s that InstaTwitBook, lowest common denominator, virality that is killing quality.

Some notes on comments from yesterday –

Dave wrote:

Racing, flat water and touring will have a different pool such as canoe or more athletic focused people. I consider them different sports. Just like motor racing F1 and motoGP are all motor racing but they have different equipment, skills, participants and audience.

I agree 100%.  I have used bikes as an example on the show numerous times.  There isn’t much commonality between a road bike and a Freestyle BMX.  Different sports.  We’ll see this differentiation over the next five years in performance SUP sports.

Right now a number of the top surfers are also top racers – less so in distance racing, think Travis Grant, Connor Baxter, Danny Ching.  Specialization will put an end to that.  The time required to master one discipline as the talent rises and athletes focus on racing or surfing will mean those who try to be dual sport athletes will be at a disadvantage.  Unfortunately, for surfing, the money is in racing and we might see the best athletes opt to race more than surf.

From Bodie:

The sooner all the crap Chinese wanna be board manufacturers fold the better, leaving passionate, objective oriented brands building better products for all!

There is nothing worse to me than someone who tries to profit off of someone else’s passion without sharing that passion.  As a group we should direct all of our business towards the passion driven, surfing first companies.  Hobie and Infinity, East Coast Paddle and L41, 27 North and QuickBlade.  The companies pushing innovation that will take our sport to the next level.

The companies that jumped into paddle surfing for profit will jump out when they don’t find it.

Ok, done with that…

This next week I’ll be doing a new series.  I’m coaching Jason, a private week, and it looks like the surf will be pumping.  The journal will follow our week and his progression (if it’s cool with him).

I love private weeks as they are more of a surf trip than surf camp for me. It’s a great excuse to tell the wife I’ve got to surf twice a day for the whole week, nap in the afternoons and have food prepared.

We might do an episode for the podcast.  I did one fan questions show a while back, and think the timing is good for a second.  So, hit me up with what you’d like to hear discussed.  Maybe we’ll conference in someone depending on the discussion.

Thoughts???  Let us know in the comments below.  Erik


Growth. Do we care?

Long-form it is.  I’ve got a good handle on the project now and it’s fully in-line with what Paddlewoo has been focused on since the beginning.  I haven’t talked to Kalama, Boehne and Colin yet about the change in mission, but it’s the first time I’ve felt solid.  I hope they’re stoked too.

It might mean I have to push back a bit from September because the interviews don’t hold up with the new objective.  If I can solve that from Costa Rica we’ll be on time, but my guess is that I’ll need to be with the guys to get the audio or it will sound horrible.  Best I could do from here would come out like a podcast and that is lacking.

In the past few days I’ve written three journals that I didn’t publish.  That’s a first for me.  I’ve been thinking about the industry and sport and have some big thoughts, some that I’m not ready to commit to forever.

Here are a few questions that I’d like to get your insight on…

  • Do you think the hydrofoil videos and popularity online is good for paddle surfing?  Or, does it marginalize the sport?
  • Have we hit our tipping point, where even though the industry is in the midst of hard times, and we’ll see brands go away, that the sport will continue to grow.  And do we, the passionate few, even care?
  • Where should growth in our sport come from?  Do you think we should be actively trying to recruit surfers?  Should we bring new paddle surfers up through the ranks of race and recreation?  And, do we care?

To the latter, I’ve landed on I don’t care.

In the espresso-fueled, rabbit-hole of the last few days, I’ve decided that Paddlewoo’s mission and focus will be the enhancement of the already passionate.  I’m open to any ideas that further that goal.

We’ve got our core.  I’m beyond stoked at the amount and thoughtfulness of emails I get from all of you.  And I think the highest and best use of Paddlewoo and this platform, is to help raise the collective performance of our sport.

I’m convinced that’s the way forward for paddle surfing.

Long-form surf film?

Shortly after writing the Social Contacts post I realized it was a huge mistake and I almost took it down.  In it I stated that I would self-edit and produce the Progression Project Origins film.  I wrote the post so I’d be forced to complete the project and almost yanked it when I realized the daunting task ahead and that the post would actually work and hold me to it.

That’s what you get after a great surf session and an espresso…

Since writing that post I hadn’t touched the project, and then yesterday John followed up to make sure I was working.  I woke up at 4am feeling bad that I said something I wasn’t doing, and started to create a project outline.  See, social contracts work.

I promise the journal won’t turn into a venting session about the project. Today’s post servers a purpose.  I’m trying to figure out how to make the most valuable film for the paddle surf community.

This rabbit-hole, what is valuable to a passionate paddle surfer, has led me to an unexpected outcome.

I might be an outlier, but I prefer long-form content.  The current platforms for media, InstaTwitBook, cater to the lowest common denominator.  I like long blogs, podcasts and documentaries -the more raw the content, the better.  It’s closer to the truth.

My question is whether the same premise holds true for a surf movie?

Would there be more value to have a long-form surf movie.  To take the best waves from each session and let them run.  Edit the interview audio on top.  Instead of a bite-sized best-of-the-best edit, the nobody-ever-fell-on-this-trip mix, create a long-form reference for solid, technically sound paddle surfing.  And we have that content.

It may not be a movie to release at a film festival.  It would be a movie to watch before you surf to be inspired by beautiful lines that Colin draws.  Or to reference when you’re working on frontside cutbacks or backside bottom turns.

That’s been the value in these projects for me.  I use both Progression Projects’ videos for inspiration and technical understanding.  I don’t generally use edited videos.

That said, we could do an epic 20 minute edit – but if I think back to what I would have wanted 2 years ago, when I was craving every little bit of paddle surfing knowledge I could find, I’d 100% opt for long form.

What about you?  Let me know in the comments below…

Either way, we have 8 days to decide, maybe longer.  I’ve committed to reviewing one day of footage every day.  Day 1 done.  7 days to go.  The next blog might be about tackling a massive project by breaking it up into manageable steps.