Our primary aim was to investigate the influence of turns, tube rides and aerial manoeuvres on the scores awarded in elite male professional surfing competitions. We also investigated the successful completion rate and scores associated with different aerial variations.
Video recordings from all 11 events of the 2015 Men’s World Championship Tour were viewed to classify manoeuvres performed by the competitors on each wave as turns, tube rides and aerials. A two-way ANOVA was used to determine any main effect or interaction of manoeuvre type or event location on the wave scores. A one-way ANOVA was used to determine any main effect of aerial type on successful completion rate.
Aerial manoeuvres were scored significantly higher than tube rides and turns. A significant main effect existed for manoeuvre and completion rate. Aerial manoeuvres had the lowest completion rate of 45.4%. During the finals series (Quarterfinals, Semi-finals and Finals heats) aerial manoeuvre completion rate was higher, at 55.4%. The Frontside Air Reverse was the most commonly performed manoeuvre and received an average score of 6.77 out of 10.
Professional surfers can optimise their potential single wave scores during competition by successfully completing aerial manoeuvres. However, aerial manoeuvres continue to be a high risk manoeuvre with a significantly lower completion rate. Our findings suggest that surfers should aim to improve their aerial manoeuvre completion rate via surf practice or land-based training drills.