The similarities between boxing and surfing

One thing I've noticed that helps me mentally in surfing is the concept of being tight yet loose simultaneously. This might seem like a contradiction, but surfing often involves balancing opposites, and it's crucial for maximum biomechanical efficiency.

Economy of movement

Think of a boxer. When they throw a hook, the trajectory of their arms are close, movements precise—not flailing like in a sloppy street fight haymaker. This controlled, tight technique maximizes their economy of movement. Similarly, surfers like Ethan Ewing demonstrate this principle. He maintains tight, efficient movements with his arms bent close to his torso allowing for more torque in his turns.

Tightness vs looseness

The right balance of tightness and looseness applies not only to how wide you may spread your arms out when performing a turn, but also finding the right level of muscular tension. When you throwing a jab, really your arm should feel a looseness as it whips out and then there’s a tension when the jab connects with it’s target as the whip snaps. If you throw the job and are too tight - it will feel stiff and will lack the whip. If it’s too loose there just won’t be enough power. The same goes for any movement you’re performing in the water. Stiffness means you’ll likely be pushing water when what you want is to be able to flow.


The other benefit I’ve found is from a style perspective - generally your movement on a board looks better when your arms are controlled and closer to your body and when you’re fluid and relaxed vs tense and stiff.

Finding the balance

The trick of course is finding the right balance of tightness vs looseness, and the best way to do that is to analyze footage of yourself surfing and then using that feedback to make adjustments.

This has helped me a lot - hope it helps you!

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