How To Stay Sharp

After nearly 20 years on Tour, Taylor Knox shares his advice

Taylor Knox, still taking heat wins after nearly two decades on Tour. Photo: Ellis

One of the most respected surfers on Tour, Taylor Knox has held his place among the elite for nearly two decades. Want to be a better surfer at 40 than you were at 20? Read on and take a note from Taylor.

Surf with the Best. It’s been said that the best way to become a great surfer is to surround yourself with great surfers. “I think just being around such incredible surfers has helped me so much. You can be around some great surfers and not really feel anything, but then you’ll come across ones that really make you want to be better--like Mick, Kelly, or Dane. Their [World Tour] rating really has nothing to do with it for me, it’s more about respect for what they’re doing on the wave.”

Get Inspired. After being on tour for nearly 20 years, it’s not easy to stay excited about being on the road for eight months of the year. Taylor has found the inspiration to compete at the elite level by looking within. “The tipping point in my life was learning about Kelee meditation about 10 years ago,” says Taylor. “I really just started looking within instead of out and realized the difference between inspiration and motivation. Inspiration is lasting and motivation is temporary.”

Get Physical. At 40 years old, Taylor maintains the physical condition of a surfer half his age. To stay in peak shape, Taylor’s pieced together a workout routine fitted to his needs. “I’ve been training with Paul Hiniker for the last five years and he has really brought my physical shape to a whole new level. [I’ve been] doing a lot of Swiss ball stuff and using my own body weight instead of running or lifting heavy weights. You also have to stay on top of keeping your body lined up because not only does surfing throw you some curve balls, but riding on planes and driving a lot can have a real effect on your back.”

There is no Expiration Date. As the adage goes, age is just a number. “I feel like my best surfing is still to come. Everyone is going to have their personal opinion about how you’re surfing, but what really matters is how you feel about it. Surfing well and feeling like shit isn’t your best because you’re not feeling your best. Age is for sure just a number. When I hear people say, ‘Oh I’m too old,’ or ‘My body doesn’t do that anymore,’ I just laugh. They’re right in one way because their body doesn’t work the way they want, but it’s only because they haven’t stayed on top of their mental awareness. Remember the body follows the mind.”

Keep Evolving. The past few seasons on the World Tour have seen the level of progression skyrocket. To stay in tune with what constitutes World Tour-caliber surfing, Taylor often surfs with the new, hyper-progressive surfers on Tour. “Surfing with the young guys is always fun, especially when you like the kid, and I like all the young guys coming up. Brother [Kolohe Andino], [Jack] Freestone, the Gudangs, they all have that really fun vibe to them, which makes you want to push yourself to stay on top of your game.” Taylor’s also taken the initiative to instill his brand of power surfing in the younger crop. “Recently, I’ve started doing a training camp with a couple of high schools that have big surf programs. I’m basically going to talk and teach them about technique and how to use the rail. I really enjoy helping the kids out whenever I can and even though I grew up idolizing Curren and Occy, I didn’t know how the kids today looked at rail surfing. It turned out that they were more pumped on it than I expected.”

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