Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Medical and Health Sciences

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Sophia Nimphius

Second Supervisor

Dr Jeremy Sheppard

Third Supervisor

Dr Josh Secomb


Competitive surfing is judged on the performance and complexity of innovative and progressive manoeuvres. As such, surfers require the physical attributes of strength and power in both the upper and lower-body in order to facilitate performance. To date, there remains limited research pertaining to the physical performance characteristics of competitive female surfers, making it difficult to quantify the current gender gap in performance attributes. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis was fivefold: (1) to describe and compare the gender differences in physical performance characteristics of competitive surfers; (2) to investigate the reliability and validity of the isometric push-up (IPU), dynamic push-up (DPU) and force plate pop-up (FP POP) measures of upper-body strength qualities; (3) to examine the gender differences in the dynamic strength index (DSI) and dynamic skill deficit (DSD); assessing upperbody dynamic and sports-specific strength relative to maximal isometric strength; (4) to investigate the gender differences in kinetic and kinematic variables of the countermovement jump (CMJ) and squat jump (SJ); and (5) to assess the gender differences in resistance training self-efficacy (SE) and outcome expectancy (OE). The aforementioned studies provide strength and conditioning practitioners, as well as surf coaches, with the data to make evidence-based decisions in the application of training to the female surfers and bridge the gender gap that is apparent within competitive surfing. Study one informed competitive male surfers had more developed physical performance characteristics in the upper and lower-body than female surfers. The findings of this study highlighted the performance benefits that female surfers may experience if such physical qualities are targeted through structured and periodised training. Study two demonstrated the IPU, DPU and FP POP to be reliable measure of upper-body isometric, dynamic and sports-specific strength. Furthermore, the results of this study identified maximal upper-body strength to be strongly associated with the ability to apply force dynamically (DPU and FP POP). These findings apply novel methodologies, in order to better understand the upper-body sports-specific strength qualities of surfers. Study three reported no gender differences in DSI or DSD ratios. However, competitive male surfers applied greater upper-body isometric and dynamic PF application, and greater sport-specific force application (FP POP). These findings, in conjunction with study two, suggest female surfers may benefit from improving their upper-body maximal strength, thus facilitating their ability to apply force in a sports-specific context. Study four demonstrated competitive male surfers achieved an increased jump height by applying a significantly larger normalised concentric impulse in both the CMJ and SJ. These findings may be attributed to the greater countermovement depth exhibited by males, enabling a greater distance over which force can be applied. Study five found no significant difference in resistance training SE or OE between competitive male and female surfers, with similarly high values being reported for both genders. Therefore, resistance training SE and OE in the examined cohort does not seem to be a confounding variable that interacts to elicit the physiological gender differences of competitive surfers.

Access Note

Access to Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and Appendices of this thesis is not available.

See list of related publications.