Take a Deep BreathInside the barrel, you can go from pure elation to an absolute thrashing in a millisecond. If you fall wrong, the swirling vortex can lift you high to the crest and throw your flailing body to the ocean floor below and hold your hungry lungs under water for minutes. Not cool.
Get a Quick BreathOr more importantly, get any breath when you get the chance. Just as you begin to fall in the tube, take a big breath and hold it. Remember that you might be pummeled more than once as you go up and over and maybe over the falls again. Sounds like a no-brainer, but without a good breath, you are dead in the water (bad pun).
Protect your HeadA lot of action can go down when you are getting used in the barrel, so you have to be ready to get thwacked by your surfboard or to get driven straight into the reef or sand. Therefore, put your hands and arms around your head and face. That way, you can avoid getting cut or knocked out. Personally, I have been hit by my board not only under water but even directly after surfacing. So be careful of that as well.
Think Flat or take the BackdoorIf are jumping off the board after a close-out, be sure to jump feet first into the trough . A proper fall means that you fall flat, making sure that the wave can’t whip your head or feet down on the reef. Lying flat makes your body more buoyant and adds more resistance which in turn will help to keep you above the water as long as possible.
If you have the time, you can also try to break through the back of the wave just by turning up into the wave face and pushing your body through. However, this is very dangerous in big waves since it is very possible that you will be grabbed by the wave’s momentum and thrashed royally. Instead, it’s safer to just jump off your board into the trough and try to lie flat.