ASI surfing instructor, Dr. Michael Lippstreu is head coach at the Drop in Surf Camp in Portugal. Michael is based close to the Atlantic coastline in the beautiful town of Lourinhã. Gently rolling waves, thick barrels or easy spots with great peaks are to be found up and down the white sandy beaches here, making it the perfect spot for both beginners and pro surfers alike.
We caught up with Michael to talk about where his surfing passion began, his journey so far and how the ASI has helped him to develop his surf coaching career:
Hi Michael; tell us a bit about your background
“I was born and raised in Germany, became a teacher there and was teaching teenagers in secondary school as well as students in university.
“I started skateboarding and snowboarding as a teenager and was skating every day for more than twenty years. As a student I was unsalaried teaching snowboarding to kids just to be able to be in the mountains myself as much as possible. Later I became a snowboard teacher to be allowed to teach my students from secondary school.
“Riding boards is my passion and was a big part of my identity and life since I started making my own decisions. I always wanted to surf as well, but the ocean was far and I was used to being broke, so it took some more years to finally manage to try surfing as well... I got hooked from the very first moment.
“Since then I’ve spent a big part of my vacations by the ocean, leaving a few weeks remaining for the mountains and snowboarding. Slowly but surely I started realizing, that the ocean was calling louder and louder and I needed to find a way to follow that call and stop being landlocked. Since I’m a passionate teacher I decided to change the classroom and become a surf instructor instead.
“So I quit my teaching job, became an ASI surf instructor, travelled for some years, taught surfing in Portugal, Sri Lanka and Tenerife and ended up living in Portugal just five minutes from the beach.
“Besides riding boards, yoga is another passion of mine. While traveling I stopped in India for Yoga teacher training. Every now and then I’m also teaching Pranayama (yoga breathing techniques) for surfers, not only as a benefit for surfing, but with a focus on breath retention as a preparation for hold downs.
“Since ASI is an approved IPDJ training provider, I participated in an ASI / IPDJ training as well and added the Portugues IPDJ Curso De Treinadores De Surfing Grau 1 license to my qualifications.”
How did you get started in surfing?
“With my first salary I booked a flight to Indonesia. I stayed a month and took a month of surf lessons. It was pure love and six weeks later I was on a plane to Portugal.”
Why did you become an ASI qualified surf instructor?
“After I decided to become a surf instructor I needed to pick an association. I needed an international license and knew that some of my friends in Indonesia were ASI instructors. They were very happy with the training and obviously the license was internationally recognized, so I checked the availability of ASI training sessions in Europe, discovered ASI surf trainer, Sergio, training in Portugal and signed in.”
What do you love about being an ASI SUP instructor?
“Becoming an ASI instructor was the first big step in following my passion and being able to share it. I’m very grateful for that.
Today I’m focused on two things, improving my teaching methods and working with students with mobility issues. For example, students that are not able to perform the pop up due to issues in flexibility or strength or students that are scared of the waves.
I really enjoy working on individual solutions. It is great to see that the limits of what is possible.”
How has COVID and related restrictions changed how you operate?
“For professional surf instructors, times are uncertain. COVID changed safety procedures and the way we work drastically.
It is uncertain how to update needed certificates. Schools in Portugal are shut down at the moment (Feb2021). I hope things improve for the summer, but I don’t really know what to expect. Time will tell.”
Can you tell us about any funny stories or situations that have happened whilst instructing?
“For me it’s the connection to the people and the common connection to the ocean. I just love sharing my passion. I remember my first wave and how much I fought for it. I know the feeling of standing up and riding a wave, especially after struggling with it in the beginning.
To me it’s very rewarding to be out there doing what I love and sharing this love.”
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us and share your journey and positive experiences with us, Michael. We wish you all the positive waves as you ride into 2021!
If you fancy becoming an ASI surf instructor like Michael then click here to find out how to get started and make your dream job a reality!
ASI is a professional membership and training organisation and international governing body for instructors, coaches and schools in the outdoor recreation industry for surfing, stand up paddle and bodyboarding.