Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (Sports Science)


School of Exercise and Health Sciences


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Dr Jeremy M Sheppard

Second Advisor

Professor Robert U Newton


Competitive surfing is an international professional water sport of which a key factor in performance appears to be surfboard paddling ability. Research on surfing performance is relatively novel and there is very limited data as to how anthropometric and upper extremity strength variables influence not just surfboard paddling but also surfing ability.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this research was threefold. The first purpose was to evaluate the reliability of Pull Up and Dip 1RM strength assessments, the ratio between the two exercises, and a surfboard endurance paddle assessment. The second purpose was to establish if there were discriminative factors between competitive and recreational surfers on these measures, and correlations between anthropometric, strength and paddling variables. The final purpose was to determine if upper extremity maximal strength training would improve surfboard paddling performance. METHODS: Thirty-six male surfers (29.7 ± 7.7 years, 177.4 ± 7.4cm, 76.7 ± 9.9kg) participated in this research. Subjects performed a tempo and range of motion controlled 1RM Pull and Dip assessment followed by a timed 400m endurance paddle on 2 days with 7 days separating testing sessions. Reliability was assessed by Intra-Class Correlation (ICC), Percent Coefficient of Variation (%CV) and Typical Error (TE). These tests along with a 15m sprint paddle test and additional anthropometric assessments were evaluated to determine if correlations between tests existed and if there were any differences between competitive and recreational surfers. Subjects were then placed into either intervention or control groups with the intervention group training the Pull Up and Dip exercises three times per week for 5 weeks.

RESULTS: All performance measures were considered reliable (ICC 0.96, 0.97 and 0.99; %CV 2.22, 2.41 and 2.01 for Relative 1RM Pull Up, Dip and 400m paddle respectively). A relative 1RM dip : pull up ratio of 1.11 was established. Fat mass and relative arm span were both correlated with paddling speed across sprint (p=0.02 to 0.04 and 0.01 respectively) and with even greater statistical power for endurance (p=0.01 andd=0.62-1.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Performance measures of 1RM Pull Up and Dip strength and endurance paddling are reliable when assessing upper extremity strength qualities in male surfers. Relative strength in the Pull Up and Dip are both correlated with sprint paddling ability. Significant differences in relative arm span and endurance paddling ability between competitive and recreational surfers appear to exist. Further, upper extremity maximal strength training can improve paddling ability in surfers; and especially so in weaker surfers.