The Hurley Surfing Australia High Performance Training Center (HPC) in Casuarina Beach, just south of the Gold Coast of Australia, is far from your average gym that offers surf training as part of their program. There’s no treadmills, stationary bikes or rows of cardio machines. Instead, there’s a myriad of hi-tech gadgets and tools from force plates that measure how soft athletes land and re-gain balance, to gymnastic trampolines, accelerometers, a sensory deprivation pool tank (where the air and water are the same temperature as an athlete’s skin temperature depriving athletes of all senses, and allowing them to relax), video equipment for analysis, a myriad of scales and GPS units, a vending machine that sales surf wax, a stocked room of brand new Al Merrick and DHD surfboards and FCS fins, a jetski, a large swimming pool, and an area to practice skateboarding.
A project of Surfing Australia, the HPC is funded by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), a government entity whose goal is to ensure Australia maintains its place as a world leader in surfing. Hurley is a major sponsor. While any surfer from grom to adult can attend camps, clinics, corporate parties, or get private coaching and/or a video analysis session by a hand-picked coach, the guy in charge of coaching and training the top Australian pros is Dr. Jeremy Sheppard who partners with Surfing Australia’s National Coach, Andy King.
A former hockey player turned surfer, Dr. Sheppard has a PhD in Strength Sciences and a long list of accolades and experience. He’s coached athletes and teams in the Olympics as well as the NRL, NFL, and AFL. Surfing Australia hired him three years ago to help develop the year and half old facility and to train their nation’s top surfers. He also mentors Masters and PhD students that can coach anyone, even non-Australian citizens who want to train like the pros at the center.
Bede Durbidge Photo By Andrew Shields
“We use a lot of gymnastics at the facility, and I think every surfer could benefit from more gymnastics. It helps with balance, landing and mostly with force production and force absorption, which is everything in surfing. Also, there is so much stimulus happening in surfing, you need to develop your entire sensorimotor system, and gymnastics is great for that.
We do things like gymnastics rolls, flips, rotations, and jumps. But, that’s just the preparation work. The truly fun stuff is off the tramps and in the air practicing airs and different grabs.”