There are roughly three key steps to accomplishing an advanced surfing goal. First, you want to honestly assess your own skill level. If you haven't mastered the basics of surfing, you're not going to master an advanced surfing skill. Not yet.
Second, set one realistic goal for yourself. This takes focus, and the discipline to resist the urge to try to master every aspect of surfing at once.
Third, don't give up or switch to a new goal, just because you're not making immediate gains. Stick with it until you have your breakthrough. It's worth the wait.
1. Honestly assess your surfing skill level
Before choosing an advanced goal to take your surfing to the next level, you need to honestly assess your present skill level, as well as your strengths and weakness. Make sure you've mastered the basics. Are you still having trouble paddling out through whitewater, duck-diving and reaching the line-up? Are you still struggling to catch decent waves and stand up in one fluid motion? If so, focusing on your aerials at this stage, as exciting as it sounds, will only end in disappointment. So give yourself an honest once-over, find out where your weaknesses lie, and start there.
2. Set one (and only one) surfing goal for yourself
In the excitement of learning any new skill, and especially one as exciting as surfing, it's tempting to try to master everything at once. To some degree, this is inevitable, and it is happening anyway. Every day of surfing involves a large set of skills that you are constantly honing whether you know it or not. However, what you can control is the specific goal you are working toward as you advance your surfing skills. And stick to just one. You may think that if you have several goals, you will learn faster. But the truth is just the opposite. Especially if the goal involves what you're doing while riding a wave, the rush and immediacy of the experience will not give you time to switch back and forth between two or more goals at once. You'll soon come to find out that one goal is plenty.
3. Don't switch goals or give up
Surfing at a high skill level is no easy task. So be patient, and think in terms of weeks and months rather than hours and days. When you get stuck, take a break to watch what advanced surfers at your favorite spot are doing, and ask them how they do it. Remember that they started out where you are now, and probably went through all the same frustrations. But don't let your frustrations dissuade you from following through on the goal at hand. As long as it's a well-chosen, realistic goal, it's within your reach, and all that stands between you and your surfing breakthrough is time and effort. So stick with it, and don't move on to the next goal until you get there.
Although there is no silver bullet for learning an advanced surfing skill, following these three rules of thumb will certainly help you on your way. First, make sure you're honest with yourself about your mastery of surfing basics (such as catching waves) before taking on advanced skills such as aerials and barrel riding. Second, discipline yourself to set one and only one goal, despite all the other enticing surfing skills that you're dying to learn at the same time. Third, gauge your expectations, be patient, and persevere. Just ask any seasoned surfer—it's worth it.