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The Evaluation and Training of Sensorimotor Abilities in Competitive Surfers

Surfing is performed in a dynamic challenging environment, and can be characterized as intermittent in nature with paddling, sprint paddling, pop-up, and wave riding as the primary activities. Recent research has investigated the physiological and physical activity of surfers, however, little is known about other important characteristics such as sensorimotor abilities and the importance of strength training.

The purpose of this research will be to 1) develop a valid dynamic postural control test (sensorimotor test) 2) compare popular but as yet un-researched methods of training surfers, evaluating the effects on sensorimotor abilities and physical performance measures 3) the expansion of study 2 (8 week intervention) by collapsing the four intervention groups into two (of the most effective training interventions) for an additional 16 weeks of training.

Therefore the present research will consist of three sequential experiments. The first study will determine whether a dynamic ‘drop and stick’ test is a reliable and valid test to detect large changes in sensorimotor abilities among developmental and elite surfers. The second study will be an 8-week training investigating four interventions: unstable surface, strength-power, gymnastics, or strength-gymnastics and determine the two most effective methods for long-term training. The second study will provide a foundation that will allow an expansion of the two most effective training interventions over an additional period of 16 weeks.

This series of studies will provide insight to surf coaches and strength and conditioning specialists on the effect of a solid strength foundation on both the physical characteristics and technical performances of surfers (i.e. sprint paddle, wave riding, and bottom turns).

Funding agency

Surfing Australia

Project duration



Mr Tai Tran
Dr Jeremy Sheppard
Dr Sophia Nimphius
Professor Rob Newton

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