Interview with Iarom Madden – Surf Coach

Interview with Iarom Madden – Surf Coach

Can you give us some background on what you’re developing within the realm of surf
coaching/training and development and where you see it potentially going?

I’m attempting to utilise the foundations of what’s already been well tried and tested, as being successful, from pioneers like Martin Dunn. Innovation is mainly a boring habit of achieving excellence in foundations.

To build upon the foundations, I specifically view excellent surfing as a fundamental set of skills represented by a neural network, and attempting to find the most effective way of constructing that network in the brain of the surfer. Then asymptopically reducing the temporal cost of manufacturing that network at scale.

This would mean becoming more precise on how we describe the elements of surfing. And in how we learn the coordinative rhythms of those skills through a land based language of movement. I look at gymnastic and pedagogy of ballet class as how to produce the highest level of athletic intelligence.

In relation to the mind, many surfers like the idea of flow. However to become excellent at surfing is through an ‘Anti-Flow’ state. It involves hyperawarenes of your errors, this follow from developing a precise model of surfing and to then integrate it into a model of how the excelling mind functions.

Another tool I’m experimenting with is imagery as a means to solve for good technique, through engaging sensory images superimposed on your body and enviornment. It’s a way of improving without thinking analytically, and supplements the foundational approach.



Tell us abit about your journey as a surfer, and how it has influenced your perspective as
a coach and absolute frothlord? Haha!

I had some big early successes as a grom: riding for Billabong and on the Irish team for 6 years. But it became overly frustrating during my mid teens, and after an injury that led to back issues. That, and I felt I didn’t have the knowledge or tools to progress at the level I desired. From there I switched my focus academically, which brought me through the world of Theoretical Physics on fundamental questions on reality. Then I journeyed into Performative Dance training, with a love of the aesthetic of contemporary dance and contemporary forms of ballet repertoire. The sacrifice; the principles I now try to adopt are to mentally view my worst and most frustrating surfs as my best most successful surfs. And I drive away from good waves to discipline myself to froth on grovelly waves.


Donegal Bay Boardriders
Iarom & Donegal Bay Boardriders


How is the future of Irish surfing looking?

We have some emerging surfers of great talent and potential. As a small state we have limited resources for a discipline like surfing. But I believe this can be worked to our advantage. Big fancy equipment and infrastructure can often be a misnomer for an obsessive distraction over big and fancy shiny things. You don’t need much to train the foundations, and the foundations are what’s important in creating long term success. Constraint allows greater prioritisation onthe basics as well as innovation. Many talent hotbeds in physical practises around the globe come from half-derelict spaces. That said, I also think we could specialise to leverage more on the world stage. An example would be by engaging in projects related to scientifically testing current ideas within the surfing world. Of which there are many low hanging fruit and foundational papers to written in the field, and any sports science research department in Ireland should be highly motivated to consider this.



How has the thought process of movement training influenced your coaching

It’s fundamental. Building on the observation of surfing as a specific set of movement patterns – the question becomes, how does one construct a precise clear method of training these coordinations, as well as the strength, coordination and psychological states.



Tell us abit about your work with Donegal boardriders and the coaching programmes you
have been developing?

I’ve been running programmes with the groms from DBB. They’ve been progressing heaps, and filled most of the Boys U16/U18 categories of the Irish Team this year. I’ll be coaching them and the rest of the Junior Irish team in Portugal this July at the Euro Juniors. In my squad trainings I mainly work on quality of input for them – packaging up the best ideas I can find and develop, and packaging it up into 1 to 3 day programs, weekly squad trainings, week long camps, and some surf trips. The groms are already highly motivated in their progression stages, so I focus on slowing things down to create hyperawareness of technique corrections, as well as layering in psychological tools. And to ultimately shift motivation towards self-learning and self-sufficiency in progression and strategy.



Any tips for the novice/improver surfer whos looking to get the most out of their

Generate positive thoughts about being bad at surfing. The better you get, the more aware of your errors you will become. So learn the habit of being comfortable with the uncomfortable. And embrace ‘Anti-Flow’ and ‘Deep Practise’. Skill wise, focus on paddling technique, beach observation, body surfing and wave catching strategies. Do short focused surfs and long durational surfs. 6+ hour sessions, even if you’re unfit – do it by moving very very slowly for the remaining hours.



How about nutrition?
I’ve tried a lot of things. Currently I’m on the no-veg protocol mixed with intermittent carnivorous feasting. Outside of biochemistry, nutrition seems predominantly theological. My one solid belief is that regular and modern fructose consumption leads to insulin resistance and then long term diabetes. My confidence in this is about 6/10. and is based on solid research at multiple levels of analysis. My sense through many conversations is that many diet fadinians hold their beliefs around an 8 to 10/10 based on how they feel about their diet. This doesn’t seem good.



Do you have any projects you’re currently working on?

Aside from some of my surf projects that I’ve mentioned, when I’m decompressing from ‘Surfthink’, I’m focusing on few slow burn larger projects around my core interests of – consciousness, dance and mathematics. I’m reading Euclid’s Elements, and planning to produce a choreographic piece on it. As well as from the project Micromegas. Eventually it will lead into choreography originating in the mental imagination of non-euclidean space and then weird higher dimensional objects of platonic reality. Another one is ‘thoughtbundles’, related to the fractal characteristic of divergent thought patterns at any given point in time, whilst trying to solve for the next movement in a sequence.

I also have been focusing heavily on flexibliity training and have been experimenting with many ideas in that domain that help towards achieving full range of motion in the body. A beautiful future would be one where everyone in the West has access to the front and side splits, pike and bridge, through engineering better living, social and workspaces, as well as gyms – that
incentivice the use of the full range of our joints, rather than their neglect. One of my side projects on this includes a prototype for a floor based computer workstation that aims to maintain hip strength and flexibliity, as well as preventing spinal injury from computer work, even if you have to sit at your workstation for 16 hours in a day.

I’ve also been experimenting with some ideas on temperature regulation coming from guys like Craig Heller at Stanford, and how it relates to mental, physical, and specifically – surf performance. As well as how being in the water for prolonged hours affects the state of the nervous system.

Lastly, I’ve been configuring a computer system template that is orientated towards functional-minimalism to achieve higher rates of ‘Deep Productivity’ and increasing the the brain-to-computer interface transfer bandwidth for high value ideas.


Thank you to Iarom for your inspiring words and way of living!

Check out: @iarom.madden & – FutureSurf, Iarom’s new Surf Coaching & Developmental Training Program for aspirational surfers of all levels.

Iarom will be coaching the Irish Team for the Eurojuniors this July, and has been running and developing high performance programs at Donegal Bay Boardriders @donegalbayboardriders !

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