Surfing Video Analysis: Learning From The Best

Surfing is harder than dancing or martial arts, because surfers evolve in a moving and unstable environment. While dancers move on a stable floor, surfers have to maintain their precarious balance on waves which profile is constantly changing.

A good way to learn the surfing choreography is to watch the best practicing their art. Luckily the Web is full of videos of good surfers evolving on every kind of waves.

But there is more. With the new cameras produced by Red or GoPro, it is now possible to deeply analyse the surfers movements thank to slow motion.

How to analyse a surfing manoeuvre

To properly analyse a manoeuvre in surfing, you need to focus on one part of the surfer’s body. Why did he choose to execute this figure and not another? Where is he looking? How is he moving his right arm? His left arm? When is he bending his knees? Where are his feet on the board?

Like in dancing, each part of the body has a role to play in surfing. Launch a video of your favorite surfer and focus on one extract of the video, where he executes a manoeuvre. Examine one part of his body at a time. Then replay the  extract as much as you need to fully understand the whole manoeuvre. Yes, you probably will spend one hour on a single video. But you will learn a lot about surfing.

Here is what you need to examine to understand how a surfer does his magic:

  • The stance on the board
  • The anticipation of the evolution of the wave
  • The head and the look
  • The shoulders
  • The right arm
  • The left arm
  • The legs
  • The trajectory

Slow motion on demand

Not every video encompasses slow motion sequences. And professional surfers are so fast that it is hard to decompose their movements. But there is a solution to this problem.

Download a few surfing videos, by using a video download browser extension, for example. Then install the VLC video player. Launch a video in VLC and use the keys + or – (cmd + or cmd – on MacOS) to play the video faster or slower. Now you have plenty of time to analyse the choreography of your favorite surfer.

How to watch any surfer surfing regular or goofy

Most of surfers adopt a regular stance, that is to say surfing with the left foot forward. But what if you are a goofy surfer and you want to analyse the surfing technique of a regular surfer? You’ll have to invert every movement in your head. Pretty inconvenient, isn’t it?

But once again, there is a solution! Still using VLC, play a video showcasing a regular surfer, like Kelly Slater or Joel Parkinson, for example. Then go in the upper menu and click Window > Video Effects. Then click the Geometry tab and check the Transform square. Then choose the Flip horizontally option. The entire video is now flipped horizontally, like you were watching it in a mirror. From now on, you can watch any surfer surfing with your stance.

By analysing surfing videos, you will understand what you need to do or not to do to improve your surfing. You will also notice that each surfer develops his own style. For example, Gabriel Medina is a nervous surfer, while John John Florence is more nonchalant and seems to surf without efforts.

Anyway, if you just want to watch surfing videos, I gathered a few ones below, showcasing some surfing styles among many.

Sustenance

Leave a message

James Perry

Dane Reynolds vs Mick Fanning

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Intense Workout Routine: The Bar Brothers Challenge

After two years of daily surfing in the french city of Biarritz, I could say that my body knew what endurance was. But it knew nothing about real strength. In fact, surfing is not a sport where you have to lift your own bodyweight very often. That’s why most of the surfers are svelte, even guys competing on the World Tour.

So when I watched this Bar Brothers video on YouTube, in june 2014, I thought to myself that it was, even for a regular surfer, a big challenge.

“All day every day” and “No excuses” are the motto of Bar Brothers. And people who endured their calisthenics routine kept saying on the Internet: “If I can do it, you can do it”. So I decided to challenge myself. For one month, I would endure daily calisthenics, no matter the stiffness, the warmth of the summer or the excuses I could find to avoid working out.

Gear of War

equipment-calisthenics
My thrift shop quality equipment

To start this challenge, I needed some training equipment. There was no outside pull up bar in my neighbourhood. So I invested twenty euros in a second-hand door frame pull up bar. It helped me to execute the upper body exercises.

For the dips routine, I used the wobbly folding chairs I found in my apartment. Yes, I could have subscribed to the gym room near my flat-share, but the philosophy of Bar Brothers is to work with minimal equipment.

For the floor exercises, I used my yoga carpet. Okay, I’m not squeamish, but when I seriously abraded my coccyx skin on the parquet while wearing shorts and doing the spread sits / toe touches exercise, I decided to add a bit of comfort.

Training Day

I wanted to train one time per day with no day off for one month. But to build muscle and to avoid injuries, the body needs to rest between sessions. Luckily, the Bar Brothers propose to train one muscle group at a time:

  1. Legs
  2. Abs / Core
  3. Home Chest Triceps Shoulders
  4. Pull up bar

So I chose a four days period that let me work one muscle group every day while letting my other muscles at rest.

The exercises showcased in the video seem to be easy, but they are not at all! It’s just that the guys have been practicing with dedication for a very long time. So I started to train at my level.

Doing pistol squats without support on the first training day was impossible with my chicken legs. That’s why I helped myself with the door frame of my room to help me rise up after crouching.

Then I started the full body dips exercise on my knees, because I wasn’t strong enough to lift myself in this position.

Last, I didn’t do any pull up for one month because of the position of my door frame pull up bar, too close to the ceiling.

All the other exercises were doable on the first day. The main difficulty was to increase the repetitions of each series step by step to avoid injuries and to keep my motivation up by reaching a goal every day.

31Days of Progression

On the first week, I was lazy and looking for excuses to do something else than training. I had to stop listening to my mind and motivate myself with hip-hop music to start working out. I learned what real stiffness is and how much I had to struggle to finish each exercise. I constantly had pain in the muscles group I trained the day before. I also learned that it was more clever to exercise in the evening. Because each time I would train in the morning, I was exhausted for the rest of the day.

The abdominal muscles training was the easiest training. I mastered the wide spread sits / toe touches exercise after four abs sessions in only two weeks. In one month, it was easy for me to execute five sets in half an hour without any difficulty.

I encountered serious problems with the legs training. I didn’t remember to sweat that much in my life! I had discomfort to walk the day after the workout. My knees started to hurt badly so I listened to them and increased the number of sets after five legs training sessions, that is to say after twenty days. In one month I was able to do 5 sets in 37 minutes. But I still was not able to do a single pistol squat without support. This move requires so much power!

The most difficult group muscle to train was the upper body. I needed so much determination to finish each exercise! Even after one month, I still needed one hour to almost complete three upper body sets. After this kind of training session, I wasn’t able to raise my arms. Intense workout indeed.

The pull up bar cycle was rather easy because it’s made of short repetitions and because I didn’t do a single pull up move in one month, because of my indoor training. I did all the others exercises that made me feel like some of my back muscles were atrophied. Even for a surfer used to paddle with an arched back, the pull up bar training requires a lot of strength.

A Visible Change

Eventually, after one month, my body and my mind got used to this intense routine. I was used to train every evening, eat my diner while cooling down and enjoy a fresh shower. More than a chore in the first days, I started to enjoy working out after a few weeks.

I trained for only one month but it was so intense that the changes were already there. I felt more dynamic, climbing the stairs two by two in Paris subway. Occasionally, I would even do some tractions under the mezzanine bed of my roommate, just for the pleasure of burning energy.

And I started to feel more confident, because ,like yoga, pull up bar exercises help to develop a good back position. My chest became more open, my respiration deeper and I felt more relaxed, thus more confident. In fact, it’s the opposite of sitting in front of a computer, which makes people slouched and curled up with their organs compressed for hours.

But, more important, working out became a need. I needed to exert myself. My body remembered the days when I was a child, running and jumping everywhere all day long and it felt good. I felt more active and more alive doing that much sport!

When I started this challenge, I was 1.73m tall (5.67ft) for 58kg (127.8pounds). Physically I gained volume in my triceps, in my abdominal muscles and a bit in my pectoral muscles. The other parts of my body didn’t seem to change a lot, but I felt more powerful.

Conclusion

Well, this was an intense experience with a lot of positive effects!

Calisthenics like this Bar Brothers intense workout routine remembered me what is accomplishment. It remembered me what it is to progress step by step. It remembered me that if you want to be good at something, you have to do it every day. I proved to myself that I can work hard daily to reach a goal. And I think it’s the lesson to be learned from calisthenics: working very hard and seriously on something every day will lead you to concrete results.

Watching movies or wandering the Internet don’t offer this feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction and well being. In fact, you can spend all of your free time doing the same things that too many people do: staring at screens for hours, even after a day of work behind a computer. But if you spend all this free time working out, you will quickly feel completely different, in your body and in your mind. You will see yourself change in a positive sense and the people around you will see it too.

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Soccer Physics

How to Win at Soccer Physics

Soccer Physics is a really funny football game, crafted by Otto Ojala. Just one button is used to control both players on your team. Press it and it will make them jump upwards, flinging a leg out to kick air like puppets. The gameplay is that simple but it’s not easy to win. So let’s see how to play it wisely to embrace victory.

Don’t spam your shots!

The best way to score an own goal is to shoot first. At the start, the ball falls between the strikers. If you shoot first, your striker and your goalkeeper will jump together. Then the ball will bounce against the opposing striker and roll into your cage, right before your players land on the ground. 1-0. Next round. Yes, it’s that simple to give one away.

Patience pays off

The artificial intelligence of Soccer Physics is as dumb as an oyster. The opponent team jumps randomly when the ball comes close to it. So the easiest way to win is to let it play alone. When the game starts, let the opponent shoot first. The ball will bounce against your own striker and roll under the opponent striker. Then the goalkeeper will hit it and the ball will bounce in the back of his partner right into their cage. In fact, you just have to let the opponent team spam their shots.  So be patient, don’t touch the button and let the computer make a fool of itself.

Be on your guard

Now, the tactic becomes tricky. While you wait for the opponent team to score an own goal, the easiest way for you to lose is to see the ball fly above your goalkeeper. It happens very often. Too often. But, as you certainly noticed, goalkeepers jump higher than strikers. So hit the button as fast as you can to let your goalkeeper jump and send the ball far away from your cage.

Out of play

In Soccer Physics, the ball can go out of bounds. So when your team is in danger, don’t bother to keep the ball on the field and to risk a point. Kick it out of play with your goalkeeper or your striker. Then the game will restart and you will be able to play with better odds to win this round.

How to score a goal

Sometimes, at the start of Soccer Physics, the ball lands closer to you than to the opponent. So wait for the other team to jump randomly and strike the ball to send it under them right into their cage before they land on the ground.

The essence of Soccer Physics

The physics of this game are so random that you can’t control everything. Sometimes the opponent scores an own goal in seconds. Sometimes you lose after several attempts to control the ball. And to endure a 5-0 score is not that rare. But this is why Soccer Physics is a funny game! Nevertheless, you can increase your odds of winning by applying  the tactics I described previously.

So have fun playing Soccer Physics on your computer or on your Apple device. And if you’re tired of the dumb artificial intelligence, try the multiplayers mode!

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How to Take Better Photos

No matter how many pictures you take with your camera, if you don’t use your brain, they will look very ordinary. Therefore here is an article to learn how to make great shots.

Note : This is a résumé of the first chapter of Joel Sartore’s Fundamentals of Photography, a video course available here. If you are interested in taking better pictures, I highly recommend it.

Rule of three

A great pic is about three things :

  1. great light,
  2. great composition,
  3. something interesting.

1. Great light

Of course great light often is found at sunset and at sunrise. But you can make great pictures in an overcast day too. Shadows are smooth and light is soft. Just remember that shooting portraits of people squinting in harsh summer light won’t get you good results. So choose what to shoot according to the light of the moment, which is different each and every day.

2. Great composition

This one is a bit more tricky. Composition is about the subject of your picture, the space around it, the background and the way you shoot it altogether.

So try to get a better background. Get closer, or more remote to include something in the picture. Try new angles. Climb upstairs, crouch or get behind a window to create a frame around your subject. The key is to move around your subject to find the best composition.

3. Something interesting

A great picture is not necessarily about something rarely shot, like an endangered species or an amazing car. It’s also about going way beyond the original situation. You can shoot great pictures everywhere! Even in your own backyard. No need to travel far. For example, if you’re shooting your dog in your garden, it may result in ordinary and boring pictures. But if you’re shooting it in an interesting situation, like jumping to catch a ball in the morning light, it will give you better images to show.

To sum up the rule of three, a great picture is made when what you see becomes bigger than the original situation. So, go way beyond the original situation. Make it epic!

Good pictures and gear

The gear

Making great shots is not about the gear. Or the money you put in it. It’s about thinking critically and seeing well. Without using your eyes and brain, even the fanciest camera won’t get you a good picture.

And remember that control buttons are easy to master. You just have to read the manual of your camera. Seeing well is the real challenge.

But still, master the basic control buttons, so, no matter the camera you’re using, you’ll be able to get good pictures.

Always have a camera with you…

If something interesting is happening, you’ll be able to take great pictures… But only if you carry a camera with you. Always have a camera with you : a DSLR, a point and shoot or a smartphone.

… but don’t shoot everything!

If you’re shooting an important event of your personal life, you’re missing it. And later you’ll probably regret it. Sometimes, it’s wiser just to put the gear down and enjoy the moment.

Learn from others

Now, the next time you see a great picture, ask yourself these questions :

  • Why is it a good shot?
  • How did the photographer manage the light of the moment?
  • How is the image composed? What is in the background?
  • What is the subject and what makes it interesting?

To sum up this article, taking better photos is about using your eyes and brain to solve visual problems.

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