Author Identifiers

Brendon Ferrier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Medical and Health Sciences

First Advisor

Professor Sophia Nimphius

Second Advisor

Dr Jeremy Sheppard

Third Advisor

Professor Robert Newton


Competitive surfing has seen a resurgence in popularity, in response, surfers are employing alternative methods to improve performance, whilst addressing the key elements judges use to assess performance. The aerial is one maneuver that addresses the key elements of the judging criteria and is anecdotally considered critical when performed in competition. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis was fourfold: 1) examine if including an aerial maneuver, during competition, provided a positive influence on the scoring potential; 2) investigate the methods employed by surfing athletes to initiate twist along the longitudinal axis when performing aerial maneuvers when surfing; 3) analyse the kinematic sequencing of the pelvis and shoulders in surfing athletes when performing simulated aerial maneuvers in a dryland environment; and 4) validate the use of a purpose-built skateboard ramp as a training tool through the representative task design to develop surfing athletes aerial maneuver performance. This succession of studies provided valuable information to the competitive surfer and coach about the influence aerial maneuvers have on the scoring potential of a wave. Further, this research provided information related to the body movements performed prior to take-off when performing an aerial maneuver in the surf, as well as when substituting the aquatic environment with a dry land training facility. The first study determined that including an aerial maneuver during competition over three annual competitive seasons had a positive influence on scoring potential when performed on the WCT. It appeared that they awarded a significantly higher score to waves that included an aerial maneuver, supporting the view that including aerial maneuvers in competition will have a positive influence on scoring ability. Study two demonstrated the characteristics when performing aerial maneuvers involved surfers initiating whole-body twist prior to take-off by rotating the upper and lower segments of the torso using the contact twist method. Nonetheless, there is room for improvement in the timing of initiating twist to better optimise the build-up of angular momentum to increase the rate of twist once in the air. The third study found that when surfers replicated aerial maneuvers performed in the surf using a purposebuilt skateboard ramp, a similar timing and sequencing to aerial skiers, snowboarders and ballet dancers was seen at the sternum and pelvis to initiate whole-body twist. This sequencing of body movements when replicating aerial maneuvers performed in the surf indicate that the purpose built skateboard ramp is a viable training tool to train aerial maneuvers. As such, Study 4 concluded that the key timings of movements produced when replicating aerial maneuvers on a skateboard ramp compared to inwater aerials were similar. However, when simulating the task, the surfers were able to produce a greater degree of angular velocity at the sternum and pelvis prior to takeoff, suggesting a greater influence of the build-up of angular momentum prior to takeoff. Results suggest that the skateboard ramp is representative of the take-off task seen when performing aerial maneuvers, indicating that the ramp may enable surfing athletes the opportunity to learn and modify movements of the sternum and pelvis and transfer these movements to the performance of aerial maneuvers in the surf.

Available for download on Wednesday, September 27, 2023