How To Bodyboard Successfully

If you want to learn how to bodyboard successfully, you already feel the love. Like any physical activity, bodyboarding is all about rhythm. If you are stoked enough to keep trying, things will soon fall into place. The first time you actually ride a wave, it will blow your freakin’ mind. Life is amazing on the water.

To bodyboard successfully, you will need:

  • A real bodyboard
  • Leash
  • Surfing fins
  • Rash guard or wet suit
  • Wax
  1. Equipment You need a real bodyboard. If your ride is shaped like a potato chip, you will never catch a wave. Anything warped will cause too much drag. Expect to pay about $100 for a bodyboard and make sure it has a leash. Surf fins are stubby and are designed for quick bursts of speed to propel you into waves. Depending where you surf, you may need a wetsuit. If you live in a warm climate, you should wear a rash guard to protect against chaffing. Wax on your board keeps you from slipping off.
  2. Location Look where the bodyboarders are. Observe where they line up, which direction they surf and the route they use to paddle out. Follow their lead to keep out of the way. Don’t bother going to the spot where people are clustered for waves. Go to the edge of the crowd and practice here. You will get some leftover waves eventually. 
  3. Paddling Paddling is tough on a bodyboard compared to a surfboard. But to bodyboard successfully, you must learn. Keep your fins in the water and try to use your whole leg to kick. Try it slowly and you will find a cruising rhythm. The arms are best used to gain an extra burst of speed but can also be used to paddle. Use a crawl stroke.
  4. Diving. When you paddle out, you must avoid waves. If you freeze, you will get drilled underwater and shoved back. You want to dive through the base of the wave to get beneath the force. One method is the duck dive. As the wave rises, push the nose of your board into the water and dive. Some surfers use a knee to help shove the board under while others use only their arms. If you time it right, the wave energy passes over you and you pop up on the other side. If you are going to get drilled anyway, abandon your board and dive beneath the wave. Your body weight and the leash will keep the board from flying away. It’s generally frowned upon because your board can smack the guy behind you. Learn to duck dive.
  5. Dropping. Notice the location where the bodyboarders position themselves in relation to the incoming wave. You want to drop onto the wave face instead of letting it crash over you. Try and line yourself up as close to the part of the wave that is about to curl up. This is the steepest and easiest place to drop in. If you are on the wave but nothing is happening, you can push your nose down a bit to get more speed. Don’t shove it under though, if the nose goes completely underwater, you will flip.
  6. Surfing. When you drop in and feel yourself sliding down the wave, congratulations! Feels amazing, eh? Now you have two choices. You can slide to the bottom and keep going forward or turn. Going forward is fun but eventually you will want to surf on the wave faces. To turn your board, grab the nose and the rail on the opposite side of the direction you wish to travel. If you want to go left, grab the right rail. When you slide onto that wave, go in the direction you want to surf. Go down to gain speed but before you get to the bottom, turn. You rail will catch the face and you are surfing, my friend. Carve up and down to gain speed and stall.


  • Learning to catch waves is easier on a bodyboard than on a surfboard, but the paddling is much more brutal. If the waves are head high, the current may be too strong for beginners.
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