¡Voy! Lessons in Confidence & Taking Up Space in the Lineup

¡Voy! Lessons in Confidence & Taking Up Space in the Lineup

I’m a surfer.

I’m also a woman.

Over the course of my 36 years on this planet I’ve come to learn that this means a lot of different things.

I didn’t really mean for this post to flow this way, however in my latest YouTube video on my channel where I talk about the importance of confidence in surfing in the lineup, I didn’t really touch on what it means to be a confident female surfer in the lineup.

Talking about confidence in the lineup and not talking about my experience as a woman in the lineup feels like I’m missing something. So let’s go there.

Let me get one thing clear before we start.

While showing up as a woman in the lineup is different than showing up as a guy, I’ve also learned that it’s not fair to blame my gender for my wave count or how I’m treated in the lineup entirely either.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve often really struggled with (and still do at times) showing up with confidence in the lineup. I’ve struggled with owning my space, being seen and taken seriously, or just having a fun session in a world where sometimes it feels like machismo, high competition, and being alpha rules the world.

So many times I’ve doubted myself and my ability to surf at a higher skill level because I thought  “I’m just not competitive enough” or because “I’m not taken seriously enough because I’m a girl”. I felt like I either had to choose between enjoying my session, or being an overly pushy jerk. Yuck.

Last year I decided to do a little experiment.

I was reflecting upon all of the things that I loved about surfing. The things that lit me up personally at a soul level. They were things like 1) Surfing beautiful waves that I’ve selected inspiring me to dance, learn, & grow 2) Watching other surfers riding beautiful waves, whooping and cheering them on, generating and sharing stoke 3) Flirting unabashedly with everyone and being totally enchanted by the sea and all of my beautiful surroundings

What if I focused on those things everytime I paddled out? What if I said “f$%k the macho rules, I’m going to surf with my own rules”?

So one day before I paddled out, I asked myself “Jenn, what would happen if you just paddled out with your flirtatious childlike delight and just went for it?”

So I paddled for every wave with childlike delight. I channeled and embodied my whimsy and play. It felt really really freaking good. It felt like a relief.

That session I caught more waves, had way more fun, and felt more energized after my session. Hot damn!

Jenn feeling confident in her surf bikini
Jenn feeling confident in her surf bikini.

The truth of the matter is that letting my authenticity lead was my way to feeling more confident and also taking up my space in the water with a lot more ease.

It also opened my eyes to how other surfers responded to me.

Actually it totally shocked me to see how other surfers - both men and women - responded.

I saw first hand how some of my own assumptions and preconceived beliefs actually helped to manifest and amplify behaviour, energy, and responses I didn’t want and was trying to avoid.

I saw through direct experience that the energy I brought to the lineup directly impacted my experience on how other surfers responded to me - and that that part was entirely up to me.

I saw my own power and agency more clearly.

I certainly don’t want to minimize the simple fact that toxic masculine culture exists in the surf world (it's just a microcosm of the greater world after all). However, I’ve begun to see where the energy I choose to bring can change my experience in the bigger game.

It is with great relief I’ve realized that I don’t have to fight my way in to take up space. I don’t have to compete for waves to “get some”, and I don’t have to end my sessions feeling exhausted, frustrated, and angry at all the guys in the lineup.

Allowing myself to be me and surf from that place of true confidence was truly a huge game changer for me.

I think my passion for wanting a bigger platform to share this message inspired me to start my YouTube channel. I know I’m not alone in my challenges of being more confident in the lineup and life. Like the Hakuna Wear slogan “Be free to be you”, it’s important to remember just how powerful truly embodying that actually is. 

All of that said, here are more ways of owning your space in the lineup and charging with more confidence!

The obvious stuff:

  1. Knowing your gear - knowing your board and surfing in worry free surf suits like Hakuna Wear are easy ways to feel more confident in the lineup. We have a lot more energy to focus on positioning and wave selection when we’re not thinking about adjusting our bikini
  2. Knowing your skill level - helps you choose the best conditions for you and boosts your confidence and speeds up your surf progression
  3. Knowing your spot - we naturally feel a boost of confidence surfing a familiar spot
  4. Experience reading the ocean/waves - over times, the different types of waves and conditions you experience builds up your confidence

The subtle but super important stuff:

  1. Understanding how your behaviour impacts how others “read” you - I’m not talking about people judging your bikini or style. Others observe how your actions align with your intentions. If you want one of those nice set waves, you’re going to have to paddle yourself into position and claim your turn.
  2. Communication - highly underrated and underutilized! Be confident in communicating your intentions (“I’m going left!” or “It’s my turn now; going left!”) how you want to be treated in the lineup.
  3. Check in with yourself and your energy -  be honest about your state of being and what you want to get out of your session. Aligning your energy to your actions is a recipe for confidence and having an awesome session. Be free to be you.
  4. Paddle out with a beginner’s mind - leaving your assumptions, beliefs and preconceived notions on the beach can be one of the healthiest things you do, not just for your confidence, but also for your surfing

Check out the video version on my Jenn Surf Bruja YouTube channel here:


I’d love to hear your own experiences and what you think. Drop me a line in the comments or on my channel. 

Aloha & ánimo from Mexico,


Jenn in Punta Mita headed for a surf

Mini bio:

Jenn Plotnikoff is an ocean loving, self proclaimed hippy, surf loving, bruja.

You can find her dancing, creating magic, snuggling her super cute kitties, and rigorously testing out her Hakuna Wear suits in the tropical waters of her home breaks on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.


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