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Assessment of Competitive Requirements, Fitness and Trainability of Anaerobic and Aerobic Capacity of Surfers

Despite the recent increase in the professionalism of surfing there is still a paucity of research to inform assessment and conditioning practices. To date, research analysing surfing performance is limited to a few studies examining surfers’ heart rates, activity though time-motion analysis using video recordings and Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) data. These studies indicate that competitive surfing is characterized by considerable periods of paddling, interspersed with rest, but with repeat high-intensity intermittent bouts that include wave-riding and sprint paddling. Such exercise is likely to be responsible for the moderately high aerobic capacity observed in elite surfers, which is comparable to other athletic groups, including competitive swimmers and surf life savers. While there has been an attempt to identify the relationships between indices of surfing performance and physiological demands and/or characteristics of surfers current research is characterized by methodological discrepancies and focused only on performance analysis during competition. Fundamental research is needed to further understand the demands of surfing.

Therefore, the purpose of this PhD is to firstly investigate the duration, intensity, and velocity of movement during surfing (Study one).

Participants will wear a heart rate monitor and GPS tracking unit while simultaneously being filmed for synchronisation and time motion analysis (TMA). The performance analysis will then help form a basis of rationale for developing a novel repeat paddle test and refine the current fitness tests in use with the national program (e.g. 15 m sprint paddle, repeat sprint paddle, 400 m endurance paddle (Study two). The third study will examine training methods for improved athletic performance and investigate what training methods (e.g. Short-long vs. long to short, anaerobic threshold style) might help surfers with aerobic conditioning, repeated efforts and anaerobic repeat sprint paddle ability.

Research on the competitive requirements, assessment of fitness, and the trainability of anaerobic and aerobic fitness qualities of surfers' is vital for the growth of elite surfing performance. Such information could support the development of surf specific on-and off- water training programs that aim to enhance surf performance.

Funding agency

Surfing Australia

Project duration



Mr Oliver Farley
Associate Professor Chris Abbiss
Dr Jeremy Sheppard

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