Beyond sport: a thematic analysis of surfing

  • O Fuchs
  • H H Schomer
Keywords: Surfing, Lifestyle sport, Captivating activity, HMS model of personality.


The aim of this qualitative research was to explore the apparent captivating nature of surfing by understanding surfers' subjective experiences of this behaviour, and the influence that surfing exerts in their lives as a whole. Essentially, this research aims to extend the scarce body of existing literature related to the activity. In-depth, semistructured interviews were individually conducted with surfers (n=11) of various backgrounds. The heterogeneous sample included recreational surfers, as well as national and World Tour competitors of both genders. Data analysis took the form of three stages of thematic analyses, drawing on the Grounded Theory approach, which was carried out to code, compare, and categorize the interview material. Five integrative themes emerged and are discussed within the framework of the Hollander- Martens-Schomer (HMS) model of personality, as well as in relation to the relevant literature. They were: ‘A Surfing Lifestyle?', ‘The Addiction of Surfing', ‘Competition: The Surfing Paradox?', ‘Sharing vs. Crowd Control', and ‘Tranquil Mind: Surfing for a Balanced Life'. The results suggest that surfing is indeed a uniquely captivating activity that extends its influence beyond the realm of ‘sport'.

Keywords: Surfing; Lifestyle sport; Captivating activity; HMS model of personality.

South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation Vol. 29 (2) 2007: pp. 11-26

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069