Understanding successful and unsuccessful landings of aerial maneuver variations in professional surfing
Although performing aerial maneuvers can increase wave score and winning potential in competitive surfing, the critical features underlying successful aerial performance have not been systematically investigated. This study aimed to analyze highly skilled aerial maneuver performance and to identify the critical features associated with successful or unsuccessful landing. Using video recordings of the World Surf League's Championship Tour, every aerial performed during the quarterfinal, semifinal, and final heats from the 11 events in the 2015 season was viewed. From this, 121 aerials were identified with the Frontside Air (n = 15) and Frontside Air Reverse (n = 67) being selected to be qualitatively assessed. Using chi-squared analyses, a series of key critical features, including landing over the center of the surfboard (FS Air χ 2 = 14.00, FS Air Reverse χ 2 = 26.61; P < .001) and landing with the lead ankle in dorsiflexion (FS Air χ 2 = 3.90, FS Air Reverse χ 2 = 13.64; P < .05), were found to be associated with successful landings. These critical features help surfers land in a stable position, while maintaining contact with the surfboard. The results of this study provide coaches with evidence to adjust the technique of their athletes to improve their winning potential.