Surf Training Products
Best Balance Trainers For Surfers
Balance training is a major part of the workout routines of most serious surfers. Professionals and hobbyists alike, there are two main reasons you want to utilize a balance trainer: improving strength when training & maintaining strength when you can't make it into the water.
The benefits aren't limited to surfers though, professional athletes from all sports are discovering instability and balance training workouts. The benefits come from the strengthening of peripheral muscles and forcing your body to use its core to stay balanced. Rather than working one muscle, instability training works a whole range of muscles, even some very small ones that might get ignored, but which are crucial to your sport.
To help surfers looking to get a balance trainer, the SurfScience team has gathered most of the top options to tell you about the benefits of each so you can make a smart buying decision. Over a few month period the entire SurfScience team took turns using each of these trainers. Here is the grading criteria and results we came up with:
Surf-likeness - How close the trainer is to emulating the feel of surfing
360* Balance - The range of motion and difficulty of balancing
Multipurpose - The ability to use the trainer for other workout purposes
Trick Capabilities - Amount of trickability the trainer has: hanging 10, shove-its, 360, kickflips, etc
Addictiveness - How hard it was to get the trainer back from the SurfScience team member reviewing it
Indo Rocker Board
Notable Feature: No end stoppers for unlimited riding
Best For: General balance training
Available At: www.indoboard.com
The Indo Rocker Board is a new advancement on the popular Indo Board. It is a bit more advanced of a model as there are no stoppers but rather the deck curves towards the end. The way the physics of it work you do slow down a bit because of the weight displacement on the curvature, but if you push the limits, the deck will definitely shoot off as you fall the opposite way. (We almost lost a big screen TV at SurfScience headquarters from an incident like that.)
The biggest draw to the Indo Rocker Board is that it is a lot of fun. Because of the curvature, there is less surface area in contact with the roller which makes spinning easier. 180s, 360s and shove-its are a blast. It can even be ridden parallel with the roller if done so very carefully. (Once again, the TV had a few close calls)
The motion on the Indo Rocker Board isn't exactly like surfing. The fulcrum point offered by the roller isn't a move used too often by the average surfer while on a wave. It is much closer to advanced lip hits and various aerial techniques. For most surfers, the benefit will come from overall strength development. The ability to make steady movements while remaining in control comes in handy in many of the situations surfing presents us with.
IndoFLO & Board
Notable Feature: 360* instability
Best For: Strength training & conditioning
Available At: www.indoboard.com
The IndoFLO takes advantage of the Indo Board deck but gives the rider 360* instability which is perfect for workout routines. This trainer is great for doing push-ups, squats or any sort of weight training. The great part about the IndoFLO is that you can adjust the air pressure to make it more or less unstable.
Having been through physical therapy for a knee injury, I used a similar device and a series of workouts to strengthen the muscles around my knee. Having the IndoFLO allows a surfer extra strength training as well an as injury recovery insurance plan for only $25 if they already have an Indo board. It is with good reason that many gyms are starting to use Indo boards.
The stance taken on the board and the general instability is very similar to standing while paddling a SUP. That is really as close as this one gets to surfing, the rest is just general fitness, great for a surfer but equally so for an active person of any sort.
The main disadvantage of the IndoFLO is that it feels like working out. With some of the other balance trainers you will get caught up in the fun of it and not remember that you're doing strength work until you're sore the next day. Because of that, it is a better investment for someone that is committed to a workout routine, even if only a few days a week at home.
Notable Feature: Works with your surfboard
Best For: Practicing longboard footwork
Available At: www.nohosurf.com
The NoHo balance trainer is designed for longboarders to help them with their footwork. It allows the surfer to turn their longboard into an indoor training device. It works well for practicing walking to the nose and getting through that transition period from walking to hanging a toe over. It can even be used to help with paddling or a drop knee cutback. The NoHo more than any of the other balance trainers reviewed strives to emulate the feel of surfing and prove direct muscle memory.
One setback for the NoHo is that the wax needs to be removed from the deck. Most of us use a fairly soft wax which works well in water but on land it will melt under your feet and get messed up. Because of that, it would be pretty difficult to go back and forth from surfing to NoHo training on the same board. One way to get around that would be to get a cheap board off Craigslist and use it for NoHoing.
The device itself is very well constructed. The contact area is large and spread out which helps ensure that your board won't get dings. The clamps on the side go on very quickly and the bungees keep the device tight. We had some difficulty getting the clamps to stick on the rail of a board that was over 3" thick, especially if its wide. There might be a trick to it, but it definitely gave a few team members a bit of frustration. The NoHo is great for competition level longboarders looking to practice a routine but can be used equally well to teach someone to surf. Its a great way to demonstrate popping up to a new surfer before taking them into the water and to date the closest thing we have found to the wobble of longboarding.
Notable Feature: Multiple "rocks" to be used for different types of workouts
Best For: Practicing tricks & landing
Available At: www.vewdo.com
The Vew-Do balance trainer is on a guided track and has a comparatively small roller, called the "rock". This trainer is not surfing specific. It offers benefits to board riders of all sorts, especially skaters & snowboarders. The Vew-Do's greatest strength is its trick ability. It allow the rider to ollie which opens the door to many other skating tricks. There are some videos online of riders really pushing the limits of what can be done on a Vew-Do, some very cool stuff.
It is worth noting that Vew-Do makes a few different board models. The one reviewed here is the Indy which is part of their performance line. They have other lines which are more geared for strength training. It is also possible to get a different "rock" model to get a different result from the same board.
The Vew-Do is a bridge to a whole new realm of balance training. Because of the vast trick capability, it is almost an entirely new sport. Very fun to ride and great for developing strength/coordination while having fun.
Notable Feature: Heel-to-toe balancing
Best For: General balance training & goofing around (haha, punny!)
Available At: www.goofboard.com
The GoofBoard offers a new way to balance, pivoting heel to toe rather than side to side. The feel is more like that of surfing down the line.
The major strength of the GoofBoard is the ability to cross step on it. The process helps fine tune the small twitch muscles in your legs that you will use when out in the water. The bottom of the board has stoppers on either rail to make sure the board does not shoot out from under you.
The GoofBoard is the largest of all of the trainers reviewed here which makes it great for footwork but limits its ability as a multipurpose trainer for exercises like weight lifting. This board is idea for longboarders looking to replicate the down the line feeling. We found it also offered a similar feeling to SUPing if you stand with one foot on either side of the roller.
Notable Feature: 360* Instability
Best For: Intense inability training
Available At: www.thesurfzone.net
The SurfZone was the hidden gem of this product review. An East Coast product, most of us hadn't seen it in stores or heard much about it. We were pleasantly surprised by the unique feel it offered.
The first thing we noticed is that it is much harder to balance than any other model. Because the board is lifted on a hard plastic half sphere, you must apply complete 360* balance to stay upright. The board doesn't open itself up to many trick capabilities unless you count spinning, which you can do a lot of.
The SurfZone was the only balance trainer reviewed with only one piece which was at times more convenient. At times we found ourselves grabbing it for a quick balance on the way out because you can just set it down and hop on rather than having to line up the board with the roller. This isn't a huge factor, but worth a note.
Do you know of a balance trainer that can help surfers? Do you think should be on this list? Email us at team[at]surfscience.com and let us know.
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