Great to see Marcus & Yvonne again.  Yvonne and I have had a few coaching sessions over the last few years, I think this for Marcus is a total of 8 days coaching with me so we can really see progression from absolute beginner to improver, taking off on some nice green waves, looking down the line of the wave, timing the position one or hands to the rail, improving paddling technique, stand up, foot positioning and general stance.


Key learning objectives:



  1. Paddling technique
  2. Positioning on board
  3. Nose tail control with head
  4. Position 1 hold, gain control & direction
  5. Front foot positioning less than 45 degrees
  6. Twist in position one
  7. Chin up in take off look down the line of wave not straight or down
  8. Stance...bring hips forward less leaning most of the weight on front foot
  9. Compress using legs not bending at the waist

*to work on:

  1. Stand up drills in front of the mirror 50 reps per week



Key learning Objectives:



  1. Head & body positioning whilst paddling to gain better Nose to Tail trim control...using gravity to assist wave catching
  2. Engaging rail from take off, higher line
  3. Looking at the approaching wave
  4. adjusting direction
  5. Judging the degree of angle take off
  6. angle take offs 
  7. paddling entry angle
  8. leaning inside rail in position 1
  9. mid face turn
  10. back side surfing
  11. front side to back side turn

*to work on:

  1. Looking straight ahead & down
  2. Look down the line of the wave through the whole stand up routine
  3. Drills stand up drills 50 reps looking down an imaginary wave line



Wim Iceman Hof
Wim "Iceman" Hof


Wim Hof nicknamed "The Iceman" for his ability to withstand extreme cold, is the holder of 20 Guinness World Records for withstanding extreme temperatures.


He has climbed Everest and Kilimanjaro in only shorts and shoes, stayed comfortably in ice baths for hours, and run a full marathon in the highest desert (50 degrees celsius, 122 Fahrenheit) with no water & food.  


I became fascinated with breathing techniques from trying to increase free diving depths & during surf coaching encouraging students to focus on breathing techniques before, during, free surfing & competition to de-stress, aid mind & physical preparation.  At the end of this article I have outlined a simple technique you can start to implement now.


Wim attributes his abilities to exposure to cold, meditation and breathing techniques #mindovermatter  Extensive research & testing on the Wim Hof phenomenon conducted by Drs at Yale University School of Medicine (see the study parameters & results sourced link) discovered that such methods caused "voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans".  Both the autonomic nervous system and innate immune system were regarded as systems that cannot be voluntarily influenced. 

Wim Iceman Hof Cold therapy lowers oxidative stress
Wim Iceman Hof Cold therapy lowers oxidative stress

The present study demonstrates that, through practicing breathing techniques mixed with cold water immersion, the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can indeed be voluntarily influenced. Healthy volunteers in the study learned the techniques exhibited profound increases in the release of epinephrine, which in turn led to increased production of anti-inflammatory mediators and subsequent dampening of the pro-inflammatory cytokine response elicited by intravenous administration of bacterial endotoxin.  Increased oxygen retention in the cells leads to a greater state of alkalosis & reduced production of the stress hormone cortisone.  It is well thought of in modern medicine that stress is a major underlying cause of many illnesses. 


Wim Hof method is very simple, deep breath retention slow exhalation & gradual immersion into cold water.  A similar practice of many yogis for thousands of years.

Wim Iceman Hof cold water submersion techniques
Wim Iceman Hof cold water submersion techniques

1) Get comfortable

Sit in a meditation posture, whatever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction. It is recommended to do this practice right after waking up since your stomach is still empty or before a meal.


2) 30 Power Breaths

Imagine you’re blowing up a balloon. Inhale through the nose or mouth and exhale through the mouth in short but powerful bursts. Keep a steady pace and use your midriff fully. Close your eyes and do this around 30 times. Symptoms could be light-headedness, tingling sensations in the body.


3) The Hold, retention after exhalation

After the 30 rapid successions of breath cycles, draw the breath in once more and fill the lungs to maximum capacity without using any force. Then let the air out and hold for as long as you can without force. Hold the breath until you experience the gasp reflex.


4) Recovery Breath


Inhale to full capacity. Feel your chest expanding. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath for around 10 seconds and this will be round one. The breathing exercise can be repeated 3 rounds after each other.


5) After having completed the breathing exercise take your time to enjoy the feeling afterward. This feeling will be more and more like a meditation. 


When you start doing these exercises we recommend to take your time recovering from the breathing exercise. After doing the breathing exercise and you feel good, you can start with taking the cold shower. 


Watch the documentary of Wim Hof he outlines & proves his extraordinary simple methods.



The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

Author: Justin West

Surfer, Freediver & MMA enthusiast runs surfing & training programs in the Portuguese Algarve, Maldives & Madagascar.



Kelly Slater's call to arms and commitment to ocean conservancy

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Wave Gardens; the future or a quick surf fix?

justin west coaching notes.....

Wave Gardens Kelly Slaters Artificial Wave Surf Surfing
Wave Gardens....the future of surfing or just another branch of the tree of surf?
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Catching a wave - "the take off"

Justin west coaching notes....

Kelly Slater surfing surf coaching surf technique
Kelly Slater; making the impossible look possible
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NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS; make that list...

we make that list but how often do we stick to it?

surfing surf surfers life coach surf coach coaching
Leading light in the darkness hahahahah

I am a happy, positive person although I have not always been this way, through trial and error, through pain and a bit of suffering I have found what works for me;

  • Self discipline for me is key to everything else
  • Be dedicated & motivated & prepared for change
  • Do the things that others don't want to do
  • Reduce material possession - I am always much freer and less stressed without clutter, grasping, fixing or holding. 
  • Be original don't be afraid to follow your own path as long as your heart is full of good intention
  • Surround yourself with positive, interesting & motivated people
  • Refrain from ALL intoxicants; you don't need them if you live a satisfied whole existence.  You will always lose they will always win.
  • Stop watching TV; this device corrupted, manipulated and infested my free thought for years.
  • Walk more often and leave the car at home - whilst walking my mind is super active and alert.
  • Immerse yourself in nature as often as you can.
  • Consume organic, locally produced, non packaged, no GMO food - one of the many reasons I now live in Portugal.
  • Take a back seat - sometimes its good to sit back and listen to friends or watch the world go on around you.
  • Think more local, act more local - supporting my fellows, a good word here, directing people there always works.  Banging your head against the walls around international politics is pointless; be the seeds of change.
  • Seek out visionaries of the future - change will come and those who adapt quickest will thrive and be able to help others.
  • Keep physical exercise & activity a priority in your life - you will never regret a healthier life.
  • Encourage, Support and be the facilitator of positivity in those around you
  • Be compassionate but distance yourself from those that act or talk about others in a negative way
  • Give people your views on how to make their lives happier, more content they will pretend not to listen but they actually will.
  • Seek knowledge & learn new things; with the internet it is possible to study subjects & interests without ever paying a University fee, after all who cares about a degree certificate, education is truly free.



Justin west coaching notes.....

There is always "that guy or girl" in the line up that seems to effortlessly paddle in to the best set waves and is consistently in the right spot!  


Locally to where I surf it is usually my buddy Miguel Mouzinho, his wave count in an average session is incredible, even after a serious knee operation.  How does he do it?  How can you increase your own wave count?  More waves more improvement more fun.


From my experience coaching intermediate to advanced level surfers the key area to increase wave count is becoming more aware and analytical of your positioning.  Of course there is also increased paddling fitness but in the ocean I always advise "energy conservation" often do you see those guys paddling like crazy looking straight to the beach and the wave just passes under them?


I like to coach my surfers to not follow the crowd, to learn the techniques to safely surf a less crowded line up.  At a competitive level positioning in a heat is like a game of chess...get it right and you can take out the heat.  Kelly Slater during his heats actually conceals and bluffs his line ups, surfing is a sport where intelligence, analysis & wave knowledge can out surf physical fitness.


Energy conservation "go with the flow";

  1. Use complimentary interval training & ensure a good 8 hours sleep
  2. Consume a decent amount of proteins, aminos and carbs from sources such as egg whites & oats for breakfast.
  3. pre surf supplement with creatine 
  4. Analyse the line up, entry point, currents & rips from a high viewpoint
  5. work out the inshore longshore drift running left or right on the beach this affects your entry point and most probably feed into an outgoing rip
  6. Use the available currents or rips; learn to see them, usually they are where the waves are not breaking 
  7. walk as far as you can, remember the whitewater surges with power
  8. Stating the obvious here but chose a paddle out line that does not affect other surfers up and riding. 

So you have made it to the line up hopefully without expelling to much energy duck diving, remember "go with the flow".  Where should I position myself?  Where are the waves peaking?


My advice to all my students is to be aware of how the waves are breaking even as you paddle out, take time to sit and "recover" in the channel (stating the obvious be aware too the line up of surfers and not to jump the line and snake a wave).


Ask yourself where is the wave sectioning, is it a fast take off with a slowing up section, can I make the wave if I take off on the first part of the wave to break...should I take off further down the line where the wave is more makeable?  Know your level, be honest with your self are you going to catch any waves on the outside peak into an immediate fast section with a slightly slower take off?



Line ups.  The ocean is always moving you must be aware that you will be out of position very quickly unless you increase your own awareness of where you are.  Do not rely on other surfers the line up, you are not a sheep.  You can do this by using fixed markers on the land that you can pre define before paddling out, in my coaching sessions I use two poles in line with each other...a gap appears between the poles and you have drifted out of your planned take off zone.  Be aware of the tide, your take off zone will move!  If you haven't caught a wave for awhile return to the beach, recover, energise and reassess.

On a long period swell I advise never to take the first waves in a set, let the first few pass, it clears the line up but also you can re position and re assess by watching the first few waves from behind running to the beach.  


Analyse what was the shape of the incoming swell as it approached and how did it break to the beach?  Smaller sets the swell wont break on the main peak but it will rise up and indicate where the sandbar/reef is underneath.


As you paddle for your wave prepare early, oxygenate by taking three deep breaths, ensure correct trim position; look to the approaching swell over you shoulder increase decrease paddling, refine direction, adjust trim nose to tail and also rail to rail..the last few strokes & trim position should be decisive in helping direct your board in your chosen drop line.



  1. analyse the break from above, "go with the flow"
  2. analyse the take off options, sections, walls and slow ups of the wave as you paddle out
  3. recover, assess & analyse in the channel pick your moment to join the line up, even better move to your own take off zone.
  4. be prepared to change tactics if wave count is slow
  5. use pre defined line ups of fixed land based objects
  6. watch the first waves in a set from behind, analyse their shape as they approached you and how they run to the beach
  7. waves will always break differently but there are similarities
  8. use smaller swells that peak yet do not break to indicate take off zones of bigger set waves
  9. look at the wave as you paddle for it, increase or decrease your paddling power, adjust trim of your board nose to tail or line rail to rail depending on the shape of the wave forming or the line you want to take


Once you have worked out your take off zone, a couple of strokes and you will be in to a great you paddle, how you drop the wave, the line you take is another article!



Justin West is based in Portugal, a coach to two national champions, a regional champion and fitness trainer of two professional surfers.  He has been coaching surfing to intermediate, advanced and elite level surfers for over 20 years.  For more information on how you can improve your surfing check out his website

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Algarve U14 & U16 Champs Training Camp

justin west coaching notes.....

Two hours farming, six hours surfing with Luca Guichard & San Pindsle and an HiiT post surf work out; we deserved a dinner out with our buddy San and a special vitamin juice smoothie thanks to Luis from Agua Salgada in Sagres! 

We had plenty of footage on the video camera today but it will be necessary to cut & edit, surf was small but with the occasional doubling up of a wave with some good shape.

Key learning & coaching objectives:

  1. You think you don't have any more energy; you actually do.
  2. Slow the body movements, focus on the breathing, less frantic try find the speed with the rail and projection through turns.
  3. If things are not going so well; take a break, come out, re-assess, make a better wave strategy.
  4. Re-enter the wave with more giving/flexible compressed at the knees.

Algarve Sub 14 & 16 Champ Training Camp 2

justin west coaching notes