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UK Coaching Team
Talent and Performance

Coaching Big Wave Surfing’s Nic von Rupp: Preparing the Mind and Body

In big wave surfing, where breakers reach eight stories high, coaches focus on survival techniques as well as performance. Matt Majendie meets one of the world’s best to find out how he approaches the task

How do you prepare an athlete to tackle mother nature? To throw themselves into unpredictable 80-foot waves on a surfboard where the slightest wrong move could prove to be the difference between life and death?

In the Portuguese seaside resort of Nazaré – the European mecca of big wave surfing – Julio Pinto can only watch helplessly from the clifftops with the ground underneath trembling like an earthquake. Some 200-feet below, Nic von Rupp tackles the monstrous and thunderous waves.

As a coach to the professional big wave surfer, Julio’s primary role is that Nic comes back alive at the end of the day in waters where the world’s biggest waves in history have been surfed, a goal he says that helps to focus the mind.

“Working with a big wave surfer has different characteristics to working with any other surfer or sportsman as what they do turns out to be more complicated,” Julio says.

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