Learning how to bodysurf is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to have fun in the ocean. All you really need to learn how to bodysurf is your body and a nearby large body of water. External tools like swim fins and hand-plants are helpful but not necessary.
To bodysurf, you will need:
- Your body
- Swim-fins (optional)
- A hand-plant (optional)
- Learn to swim. You can’t learn how to bodysurf if you can’t swim. Entering the ocean without knowing how to swim is extremely dangerous and reckless. You should be able to swim ten laps in a swimming pool before attempting any type of wave riding.
- Read the waves. Steep waves are best for bodysurfing, as the increased speed and power of the wave will minimize your body’s drag. Gentler waves are easy to learn on, but will become boring quick. To bodysurf effectively, you must be able to read when a wave is about to break. Study waves from the beach, watch them as they rise on the horizon, crest and eventually break. This type of timing is an invaluable skill for all wave-riding disciplines.
- Swim to the lineup. Swim out past the breakers using any effective swim stroke. Swim fins are helpful on bigger days. Avoid incoming waves by diving under them. Bodysurfers want to tread water just outside the surf line. A line of foam is normally a good indication of where to wait.
- Catch a wave. When you see a set on the horizon, pick a wave and go for it. As the wave approaches, position yourself so that you will be swimming for the wave as it is cresting. When the wave is about five to ten yards away, swim with the wave in a strong freestyle stroke. Kick hard. Swim fins are very helpful in this situation. Wave riders catch waves by trying to match the wave’s speed before harnessing the wave’s energy. A weightless sensation followed by a quick descent means you have successfully caught the wave.
- Turn. Many people like to bodysurf straight to shore, but for a longer ride in larger surf, turning is essential. Extend one arm in the direction you would like to turn and roll onto that shoulder. Extend your right arm to turn right and your left arm to turn left. Some riders extend both arms, especially when bracing for an impending impact.
- Practice good form. To bodysurf effectively a rider must have good form. Arch your back and try to make your stomach as rigid as possible. To bodysurf effectively, you must minimize drag, which is why serious riders wear form-fitting swimwear. Keeping your head and legs high will also minimize drag. Kicking is helpful if you feel you are loosing speed. A bodysurfing hand-plant can help a rider plane on the face of the wave.