During the school half term in May, the South West of England was hit by some perfect swell for the first time after exercise guidelines were relaxed. Despite the obvious temptation to get into the water, the Team England Junior Squad got together on a video call every evening. It was the first time Surfing England have ever run virtual training and the week was designed to check in with everyone, update the squad and provide a varied training agenda to help face the year ahead.
Team England Junior Manager Oliver ‘thought it would be a great idea to get everyone together with this set of video call meetings to move forward so it will be something we can use as it’s a great way we can reach out and talk to the athletes and for the athletes to talk to us’.
The week was structured with a different theme each evening. Here is how we got on…
Monday 25th May– Surfing England update with Operations Director Ben Powis
Surfing is so exciting right now and the talent in English Surfing is incredible. The sport will debut as a Demonstration Sport at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (now postponed to 2021). Surfers strive to compete here as part of the British Surfing Team. The pathway is via Surfing England’s Events and Teams.
The World Surf League (WSL) has made significant updates: the 2021 Championship Tour (CT) will finish with a grand finale and a Regional Qualifying Series (RQS) which will allow athletes to feed into the new Challenger Qualifying Series. Our aspiration is to feed our athletes into the RQS and ultimately the CT.
The EuroSurf Juniors will not take place in 2020 and we are awaiting news on the British Championships (to be hosted by the Scottish Surfing Federation in 2020) and ISA World Games.
Surfing England are aiming to deliver the remainder of the English National Surfing Championships in September 2020, with U12, U14 and U16 Divisions yet to take place, as well as Longboard and Senior Divisions. We hope to announce full details by early August!
Tuesday 26th May – Sport Psychology with Lindsay Woodford (UWE Bristol)
The Teams Sport Psychologist, Lindsay spoke about the importance of mental health, particularly during the covid19 pandemic and how this has affected athletes. We did some work in groups on how the Team thought they could help with both their own and each other’s mental wellbeing, and how this can optimise performance.
Lindsay shared useful resources with the team for their own independent development as young adults and squad members. This session was well received and is part of our ongoing commitment to develop not just great athletes, but well-rounded and resilient people.
Wednesday 27th May – Surfer Q&A with 2020 English Champion Luke Dillon
The Team England Junior Squad were lucky enough to be joined by current English Open Men’s champion and QS surfer Luke Dillon, who talked through all the aspiring squad’s questions. These were mainly angled at experience on the rigorous competition circuit, managing life as a professional surfer and details of training and nutrition.
We picked out some of the key topics – you can read our selected Q&A’s here.
Thursday 28th May – Coach introduction with Damon Beveridge and Miles Lee-Hargreaves
The topic for Thursday night was based on understanding how the squad works at competitions, how it is selected, how to stand out and drive continual development and sharing previous competitive experience. These aspects of Team England will be vital for the athletes to come to terms with, within the next year as competitions resume.
Leading the session were Damo, who has filled the role of England/British coach for several years and Miles, who competed at four ISA world games as a junior and currently competes at WSL QS events.
Damo and Miles emphasised that Team Selection is not just your surfing ability but your attitude as an athlete outside the water. Team events can be long. How do you manage nutrition, routines, and warmups? Do you have an all-round preparation? Athletes are entitled to having fun and hanging out but need to remember the real reason being there: getting to the podium and winning.
So… what to expect if you get picked? There are a lot of environmental factors you will need to expect to adjust to. It will be hard work – not a two-week surf holiday.
Miles suggested keeping a journal of surf and training sessions: conditions, boards, and fins – analyse what is working and remember you can learn from the worst surf sessions. There were plenty of other categories athletes can record to work on: warm ups, stretching, what music is motivating you, what state of mind you’re in, food, nutrition and how you felt waking up from you sleep.
Damo rounded off the session by getting the squad thinking: which of these elements do they think need to succeed?
The week of the training camp was a week of pumping surf, it was the perfect opportunity for the squad to get serious and consider areas to work on.
Friday 29th May – Strength and Conditioning with Beau Bromham
At the end of a warm day the team logged into the video call ready to train – thanks to dryrobe for the t-shirts! Some of the important messages in the brief before getting started were why strength and conditioning is important, try to keep the correct form, don’t push through pain and work within your own limits.
This final virtual training session aimed to show the squad how they can improve their strength without external weights, build on cardiovascular fitness for paddling and prevent lower extremity injuries, which are the most common in surfing.
The 50 minutes started with a RAMP (Raise, Activate, Mobilise, Potentiate) warm up. The mobilising section of the warm up used parts of the body used a lot in surfing, including the joints in the hips, shoulders and back muscles attached to the thoracic (upper) spine, which can become tight after lying in the prone position.
‘It’s not like one warm up is better than another warm up so you can add your own exercises and get creative, as long as it’s warming up the muscles you’re going to be using in the surf.’ – Beau
The main workout comprised of lower and upper body and core exercises and isometric (static) holds. These highlighted the crucial aspects of competitive surfing. Surfers need to develop body power to stand out when held against judging criteria. Strength endurance needs to be trained so that you can keep popping up without tripping over your feet, especially when you have numerous heats to get through. The tough 50 minutes also included intervals of popups which helped the workout to replicate the demands of the surfing as closely as possible. Yoga stretches were used in the final stretch segment of the session.
This session brought the week to close and the feedback has been really positive from the squad. We were stoked to see this virtual camp delivered and look forward to hosting another in the future!
Tegan Blackford described the week as ‘super fun and I really enjoyed it’
Archie Burnett ‘I’m really looking forward to doing more of those video call meetings!’
Jowan Pegg ‘it’s great to be ‘back’ with the team!’
Noah Capps ‘I am really enjoying these virtual meetings and I find them very useful, especially the one with the psychologist. I look forward to doing the workout’
A huge thank you to all the Volunteers in Team England staffing that put the effort in to provide a fantastic week’s activity and all the guest speakers. A further thank you to dryrobe for your ongoing commitment to the Team England Junior Squad. And to all the squad for getting engaged and involved – the talent and future in English Surfing is bright.