There are few surfers as deft at assessing and breaking down technique as Josh Kerr. Perhaps that should come as no surprise considering he made his name as an aerial wiz in the early 2000s, even going so far as to invent his own flip, before deciding to hone his fundamentals, beef up his rail work, iron out his style and crack the top 10 on the World Tour.
Luckily for surfers trying to hone their own technique, Kerr has taken his decades of technical knowhow and turned it into a digital fountain of knowledge via Stomp Sessions.
Because we, like you, are now spending more time than ever mind surfing our screens, we gave Kerr a ring. Below, he talks about the platform’s tutorial videos and DIY tools, including one that let’s your compare your clips to his, and even one-on-one virtual coaching sessions.
First off, can you tell us a bit about what Stomp Sessions is and why you wanted to be involved?
I originally got introduced to Stomp Sessions through a friend, Dave Downing, when Ryan [Williams, Stomp Sessions founder] was creating a different platform, more of a session-based thing where can book time to surf with a pro and do lessons that way. That can be kind of tricky in surfing, though, because you don’t want someone booking a session with you in advance and have the waves end up 1-foot and not even worth going out. For surfing, it didn’t make a ton of sense, but then Ryan reached back out to me later with this digital tutorial platform where you can learn maneuvers from videos and do online coaching. That made a lot of sense. I think you get a lot more out of the tools they have now and the access they provide to some of the best surfers in the world. Once I heard that was the direction it was going, I was really excited to be involved, and to work on the tutorial side of things to break down what I’ve learned over my last 25 years of surfing. It’s been really interesting, and kind of a learning curve for me as well.
How did you learn good technique and do you think that ability to pick up on subtle differences in body mechanics is what separates good surfers from great surfers?
Yeah, it definitely does help. When I was a kid, I was lucky to get to a pretty high level on just natural ability and putting in a lot of time in the water. I never had a coach or anyone breaking things down for me in my teenage years, it was more just me watching my favorite surf videos and trying to decipher how something was done, then watching video of myself and trying to fine-tune it that way. Then in my 20s, that’s when I really started getting help from some friends who could break down some of the smaller details. I just wanted to keep learning, and I think that’s the best thing for your surfing — not shutting yourself off and realizing that there’s always more to learn, even if it’s really tiny things that help improve your surfing and your style. And when you’ve got good fundamentals, of course you can put your own twist on it as well. That’s why the way I break it down, I try to generalize where I can to leave some room for people to enjoy that creative freedom to add their own nuances as well.
How do you approach each tutorial video? Did making these videos change your own perspective on how these maneuvers work?
I’ve got a daughter who is progressing to a really high level at a young age, and trying to help her along the way, I’ve noticed little details that I probably wouldn’t have on my own, so I have already been thinking about it in that way on some level. But working on the video tutorials, I’ve realized it’s one thing to just show someone something, but it’s another to actually articulate what that thing is and how to do it. It comes down to a lot of little things, where if you can get those in place it will help your overall performance, and then you can make it your own.
The DIY tool is pretty unique. Can you tell us a bit about what that is?
Yeah, it’s a tool that allows you to upload video of yourself doing a maneuver, which you can watch side-by-side with one of the tutorial videos. It allows you to really study those differences and critique yourself. I loved that idea, because when I was a teenager I always did an old-school version of this by watching VHS tapes of my favorite surfers in Taylor Steel movies and then watching footage of myself and comparing the two to see what I needed to work on. Often the way something feels and the way something looks are totally different — I’d think I was surfing like Kelly Slater or Shane Dorian, then I’d l realize I didn’t at all and had a lot of work to do [laughs.] This tool lets you look at your surfing side-by-side with a good example, and you can make adjustments from there to help you get it to where you want.
The list of maneuvers you cover in the tutorials is pretty comprehensive. Where would you like to take it from here?
I’m excited to see not just myself give video tutorials, but other pros to give them as well — not even necessarily different maneuvers, but even the same ones with their own style. People are very different in the way they break things down, so having multiple perspectives could be really helpful for people. Also, I’m a regular footer, and I think that makes it kind of hard for goofy footers to relate to my surfing, so it’d be nice to get some tutorials from goofy footers. The tutorials are great and we’ll definitely add to that, but the biggest thing people should check out if you have footage of yourself and want to get one-on-one feedback is the online coaching. It’s pretty amazing to be able to drop a clip into an online platform today and have someone like myself or Brett Simpson or Damo Hobgood or Caio Ibelli give you notes. It’s a pretty high-level critique, and it will be probably the most helpful feedback you’ll ever get on your surfing.
Have you gotten some good feedback from people who have said that this platform has really helped them improve?
Yeah, it seems like everyone who uses the platform keeps coming back, so having that return customer base feels really rewarding, just knowing that they’re getting something out of the platform and it’s helping them improve and enjoy their surfing.
[Click here to learn more about Stomp Sessions]