An evaluation of the mental skills, nutritional preferences and anthropometric characteristics of the pro junior under 20 surfers in the 2008 Billabong Junior Series in South Africa
Oosthuizen, F. P.
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Shortboard surfing continues to increase in popularity. In South Africa, surfing is not yet truly a profession. Successful u/20 surfers are rewarded with lucrative sponsorships, prize money and selection for national surf teams. For many competitive u/20 surfers, their ultimate goal is to qualify for the lucrative World Qualifying Series (WQS) and World Championship Tour (WCT). The competitive junior surfer and his support team (family, coach, and sponsors) invest a lot of time, commitment and money in striving for success. Whilst the u/20 surfer strives for quality water time in all conditions, he will benefit should his support staff be well informed about mental skills and nutrition. The aim of this research was to identify variables which can influence the surfer’s ability to perform consistently at a higher level of competition. Past research in surfing has shown that, although smaller in stature than other elite sportsmen, physical traits in surfing are less important than mental skills and correct nutrition. 107 Surfers entered in the 2008 Billabong Junior Series of 5 contests around South Africa. 41 Of these surfers participated in this research. Their anthropometric variables namely height, mass, body density, body mass index and % fat were recorded. Waist to hip, chest to waist and chest to hip ratios were measured. The Ottawa Mental Skills Assessment Tool was used to assess mental skills and a 24 hour dietary recall questionnaire was completed. The main findings were that with a shorter stature, the surfers chose a sport which suited their physique best. The mental skills of commitment self-confidence and goal setting scored high, but stress reactions and refocusing skills were poor. At the contest venues, the food and fluid available determined their diet. They had no definite pre heat, inter heat or post heat eating plans. We concluded that mental skills and correct nutrition are two factors which a competitive surfer can utilize to improve their surfing performance. We recommend that a 12 variable progressive forward discriminant analysis be applied to talent identification in surfing, as also to identify and to improve necessary skills which are lacking in the competitive u/20 surfer.