Brandon Phillips in the specially designed halfpipe at his VERT Performance training facility.
Brandon Phillips in the specially designed halfpipe at his VERT Performance training facility.

By Matt Cortina

The sport of surfing is changing, and VERT Performance is trying to ride the new wave. And to do so, they’re borrowing from a lot of different sports to create a unique surf and skate-focused program.

VERT offers young surfers the ability to train on land, in a team setting, in a gigantic warehouse, wear they can do yoga, get physical therapy, work out, watch film of themselves surfing, practice on specially designed skateboards and ramps, or just hang out.

In short, places like VERT are the future of a sport that recently earned a spot in the Olympics, and is undergoing a renaissance. But the transformation starts by taking the sport one step back, says VERT founder Brandon Phillips.

“My whole program is designed around your traditional sport—baseball, soccer, all of that,” Phillips said. “We surf and we skate, but we have the structure, the mentorship, the scheduling and the facilities just like any other traditional sport would have.”

By giving surf and skate training a more traditional feel, Phillips says it will encourage parents to let their kids get started in the sport earlier. And the benefits for training in a small group are numerous, Phillips said, even if surfing is an individual sport at its core.

“As a group, we’re there together and we’re having fun and meeting friends, but once we’re in the water, it becomes very individuated,” Phillips said. “You’re always trying to compete with all the other guys out on the water. When we come out of the water, we have video analysis as a group, so even if you aren’t the best surfer, you’re still watching the technique and timing that creates great surfing.”

Training groups are assembled via ability level. Surfers can also log onto VERT’s website and check the schedule of their preferred surf coach and catch up with them either in the gym or at any number of beaches. Phillips compares it to the scheduling structure one might find with a yoga teacher.

In the warehouse, which VERT shares with a gym (with whom parents and surfers are encouraged to work out), the specially designed ramps and skateboards allow surfers to gain experience they simply can’t get out on the water.

“There’s a lot of similarities between skateboarding on ramps that translates to our surfing,” Phillips said. “It’s a lot of that same muscle movement and … the unique thing is were able to practice a move over and over again. You can practice it 50 times in an hour and then take it to the water where you might only get one chance in 50 minutes in the water.”

Phillips is particularly excited about VERT’s training program from girls—and the general increase in girls in surfing—and says boys and girls are split 50-50 in terms of enrollment.

“VERT offers an all-girl program with girl coaching, and that’s a really unique aspect,” Phillips said. “Girl surfers … they’re progression rate is moving at the rate of guys. It’s really similar to gymnastics; no longer is it all strength-based, it’s finesse and technique. They can take to the air just as well as the guys can.”

Phillips says the plan is to design a platform that can be taken worldwide. As surfing training and technology continues to evolve, he hopes VERT is a key leader in the revolution. For more information, visit www.vertsurf.com.

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