“I never realized how much we push ourselves surfing. My brother Nathan and I have 20 strains all the time."
There’s a hint of wildness and pathos in John John Florence’s rough boy persona, this almost thirty-year-old two-time world champion with the impervious reputation.
He is the last custodian of the old way, talk softly, carry a big stick, surf with power and brilliance.
But, still, even a two-time world champion like John John is prey to the fragility of the human body.
After back-to-back world titles in 2016 and 2017, John John tore his ACL the following year, missed the back end of the tour and finished thirty-fifth.
In 2019, John John hit four events and three in 2021.
Ankles, back, knees, he’s been belted.
Still, as he told AAP recently, the injuries have “made me a better surfer in a weird way, I think a smarter surfer. I feel like I’m more patient on the wave, and I feel like I’m stronger because I’m training more… Before (the injuries) all I could think about was, ‘I just want to win’. Now it’s more about, ‘Ok, how do I relax enough to surf how I really want to surf these waves’. It seems so simple, but it’s such a hard mindset to get into allowing yourself to surf how you would surf normally, without all that extra anxiety of it being in a contest and having people watching and judging you.”
And John John’s WHOOP strap, which has been affixed to his wrist for the past four years, has been pivotal in his response to injury.
“I never realized how much we push ourselves surfing, especially when we’re free surfing and having fun. My brother Nathan and I have 20 strains all the time. Regularly having 20.6, 20.7 strain. I didn’t realize how much of a toll surfing takes [before I wore WHOOP],” he says.
“The biggest benefit of using WHOOP for me is to be able to keep an eye on how much training and how much activity I’m doing, because I tend to overdo things. And so for me to be able to see it and be able to see the recoveries is very helpful for me, because if I’m not doing that, I’ll just keep going and going and going until something breaks. I have a good idea of what my recoveries will be and what I need to do to recover. I know that if I strain from 18 to 20 one day, two days in a row, then I know that I’m in need for a big recovery day.”
“It definitely makes me more mindful of what I’m doing,” he says.