How to Warm up for a Session with Dillon Perillo

Perillo stays loose in the Indian subcontinent. Photo: Burkard

Athletes in other sport spend upwards of an hour warming themselves up before practice and competition. So why are so many surfers barely touching their toes before they paddle out? As a matter of fact, times are changing and many of today’s top young pros have developed full routines to prep themselves for the lineup. Recently, we asked one such surfer, Malibu’s Dillon Perillo, about his tricks on getting both mind and body focused for the next session.

Before I even paddle out, I like to spend about 10 minutes or so just watching the lineup and the ocean. I like to envision the whole session from the beach and visualize how I’m planning on surfing that day. I like to know as much as I can about the lineup before I even paddle out. Basically, before I warm up my body, I want to warm up my head.

A lot of guys nowadays have a really strict workout routine where they’ll do jumping jacks and all these elaborate stretches on the beach before they paddle out. To be honest, I get a little to embarrassed getting too into it, so I try and keep it pretty simple. Maybe a few quick squats or some lunges or something to get the blood going, but for me I keep it pretty simple.

I do have a bad ankle, though. I’ve sprained it a few times so I have to warm that up and stretch it out before every session, just to keep it loose. I also like to warm up my hips a bit as well. They say that so much of surfing comes from your hips, so I try and do a few stretches to get my hips loose.

Warming up for surfing isn’t just physical, it’s also really mental. If I’m warming up for a heat, I’ll listen to rap to get myself psyched. I don’t know how they do it, but some guys will listen to really slow indie stuff before a heat. I mean, I like that music too, but I couldn’t listen to it before a heat and get psyched--no way.

I think it’s good to warm up your muscle by stretching, but I think it’s equally important to get your heartbeat going before you get into the lineup as well. Sometimes I’ll run down the trail or down the beach so I can get some cardio before the actual session starts. I also always try and paddle out really fast so my whole body feels alive by the time I get out in the lineup. That’s crucial. You don’t want to get your first wave feeling really stiff or anything, and getting your blood going before you get out there seems to work for me.