Physical profiles of an elite stand-up paddleboard surfer: A case study
Australian Strength and Conditioning Association
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) surfing is a hybrid of stand-up paddling and surfing (wave riding), which may require similar physical development as competitive surfers. Strength, power, coordination, flexibility, dynamic balance, and muscular endurance are some physical qualities surfers need to perform manoeuvres with speed, power, and flow in the most critical section of the wave with control to achieve higher judging scores (1, 2). Although judging criteria are similar, the variations between the two sports are the sizes of the surfboard and paddling style. In order to generate paddling speed to catch a wave, SUP surfers initiate paddling while standing on the surfboard with a six-foot paddle, whereas wave riding surfers paddle in a prone lying position then pop up to stand on their surfboard. There are limited scientific investigations of the competitive sport of surfing and there is negligible research into the physical profiles of SUP surfers. Since 2009, SUP has become the fastest growing paddle sport in Northern America (3). Stand-up paddleboard surfers from 15 different nations participate in six major Stand-up World Tour events held in six countries to claim the World Champion of SUP (2). SUP is emerging rapidly and the pressure to win the World Stand-up Paddleboard Tour will require SUP surfers to increase their physical qualities to keep up with the levels of competition. Sheppard et al. (5) compared sprint performance of faster and slower competitive surfers and reported that faster surfers possessed greater relative upper body strength. Surfers with greater relative pull-up strength demonstrated faster 5m, 10m, and 15m sprint paddling time compared to slower competitive surfers. This suggests that strength plays an important role and contributes to sprint paddling. The ability to sprint paddle faster than the opposition will give the athlete an advantage to select the desired wave. Therefore assessment of this skill may be of significant value for the athlete in order to verify training and progression. Furthermore, lower body strength and explosive power can be assumed to be crucial for wave riding performance, as it has been shown to be in surfing (6). For example, the speed generated from the take-off into the bottom turn will require the athlete to compress at a considerable speed and then rapidly produce force to set up the surfer to perform a high and tight top turn. This single case study reports the physical profiles of an elite SUP surfer to assist strength coaches monitor and tailor individual strength training programs for the athlete then evaluate training adaptations.