Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management


William W. Hendricks


This current study utilized recreation specialization and leisure motivation theory to explore the meanings, perspectives, and behaviors among female surfers. Despite numerous studies previously published regarding recreation specialization and leisure motivation related to activity participation, little research has been conducted on the activity of surfing from a female perspective. Data for this study were collected using in-depth, semi- structured interviews of nine women surfers from the California Central Coast. Content analyses of the data involved coding and identifying key themes, patterns, and categories. The dominant themes significant within recreation specialization included past participation (e.g., preceding activities to eventual participation and wave/swell conditions), perceived skills (i.e., skills important to surfing, perceived skill level), commitment (e.g., central to life activity, central leisure activity, affective attachment, and adoption of social/cultural values), and enduring involvement (e.g., attraction and sensory enjoyment). The major themes that emerged from data specific to leisure motivation included initial attraction (e.g., observing others), initial motivation to participate/actively pursue (e.g., desirable setting and sensory enjoyment) and enduring motivation (e.g., achievement/stimulation, sensory enjoyment, anticipation, attraction and flow). Major themes emerged from the results of this study identify the varying styles of involvement in the participants. Additionally, results revealed the behaviors and feminine perspectives of participants that identified the meanings and experiences associated with these categories. Participants identified the pre-activity routines they engage in to prepare for surfing addressed how surfing provides them opportunities for relational leisure and self-determined leisure. Lastly, participants’ revealed factors that constrain participation and opportunities for relational and autonomous experiences.