In July 1971, the first modern bodyboard was created by Tom Morey while he was trying to create an ultimately fast surfboard.
Since then, the sport has spread around the globe and is enjoyed by both professionals as well as holidaymakers from around the world.
Bodyboarding is an amazing sport and can be enjoyed at all ages or fitness levels.
Bodyboarding is not as hard as surfing to learn, is cheaper, and with a bit of practice, will provide you with countless hours of fun in the ocean.
Whether you are a young kid or a more seasoned adult, if you are looking to get into bodyboarding, these tips and guides will get you well on your way.
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How Do You Bodyboard for Beginners?
Bodyboarding is a sport that can be enjoyed by the entire family and is significantly easier to learn than stand-up surfing, which is one reason it has become so popular.
Although it will take you years to master duck diving, barrel rolls, DK, and massive airdrops, you can be in the water riding a smaller wave in a matter of minutes.
To get started bodyboarding, you will need:
- The correct equipment: Wetsuit/ rash vest, fins, a bodyboard, an arm leash, possibly fin socks, and of course, some sunscreen.
- Walk in knee-deep: Once your fins and leash are secured, you can walk into the water until you are about knee-deep. (walking with fins is easier if you walk backward).
- Climb onto your board: Once you are knee-deep, you can lie on your board in the correct position. Remember to keep centered with your chest up.
- Begin paddling: Kicking with your legs and paddling with your arms, begin making your way towards the point at which the waves are breaking.
- Choose your wave: Once you are in your chosen spot, wait for a wave that suits you.
- Paddle for the wave: When you see a wave you want to catch, turn around and begin paddling back to shore.
- Drop-in: When you feel the power of the wave pick you up, put your hands at the top of your board, lift your chest, and lean forward onto your forearms to drop into the wave.
- Enjoy the ride: Experiment with learning different directions, putting your fins in different places, and taking note of how the wave feels.
- One more time: Once the wave has come to an end and your adrenaline is pumping, turn around and paddle back for some more fun.
14 Bodyboarding Tips for Beginners
Although bodyboarding isn’t an all together complicated sport, it can be incredibly challenging to new surfers if they are unfamiliar with what to do.
Because of that, here are some tips that will help you better understand bodyboarding, as well as keep you safe in the water without sacrificing your fun.
1. Get Comfortable With the Ocean
One of the most dangerous things you can do is enter the ocean without a strong sense of how it works, as well as good swimming skills and a level of comparability that won’t leave you panicking when waves approach.
The ocean can be unpredictable, so it is important to become acquainted with it before you paddle out with a board.
If you are not yet comfortable swimming in rough surf, you should spend more time familiarizing yourself with the ocean before you start to bodyboard.
2. Use the Correct Bodyboard
Using the correct board when you bodyboard will make all the difference in the world.
Although you don’t need to use a pro board when you are just getting started, it is a good idea to find a bodyboard that is high quality. After all, if you fall in love with the sport, you don’t want to be replacing your board after a couple of months.
More importantly, however, is using a bodyboard of the correct size.
A board that is too small will sink under your weight. This will make it difficult to paddle, as well as slow you down too much when trying to ride a wave.
On the flip side, a board that is too big will seem to plane easily along the ocean’s surface but will be too difficult to control, turn, and near impossible to learn to duck dive on.
3. Choose the Right Beach
Make sure you choose where to learn how to bodyboard wisely. You don’t want to surf on an overcrowded beach or in completely empty waters.
You will also want to make sure you are surfing over a sandy bottom and not rocks.
Lastly, as a beginner bodyboarder, you should choose a breach where the waves are consistent but never too rough.
If you go bodyboarding at an extremely busy beach or over a more technical wave such as a point break or reef.
4. Stay in the Shallow Waters
The best waves might be near the back, but when you are new to bodyboarding, it’s best to stay in the shallower waters.
Until you have learned how to control your board, duck dive, and have a good understanding of the ocean, it is safer to remain near the shore.
Furthermore, shallower water will allow you to jump onto the waves instead of needing to generate speed from paddling.
This will reduce the amount of energy you use, as well as increase the number of rides you have.
5. Ride the Wave Until Completion
As your bodyboarding progresses, you will be looking to surf the clear wave face, but as a beginner, it is a good idea to ride the wave all the way to shore.
Doing this will help you understand how different sections of the wave work and feel, as well as what to do when you find yourself in them.
Not only this, but they need to paddle all the way back to your take-off spot to provide much-needed duck diving and paddling practice.
6. Practice Your Duck Dive
If you can’t duck dive, you can say goodbye to the idea of ever making it to the backline and surfing large waves.
From the start of your bodyboarding adventure, you should practice duck diving. Begin with the small white water near shore, and slowly make your way to diving deeper under larger waves.
7. Learn to Choose the Right Wave
Wave selection is one of the more challenging tasks a new surfer faces.
When we start bodyboarding, all waves seem to be equal, but as you spend more time in the ocean, you will find that this is far from the truth.
As a new bodyboarder, you want to surf on smaller waves. However, they will need to be powerful enough to propel you forward.
Starting on 2 – 3 foot waves is perfect, and jumping onto the white water is okay, but when you are ready for a better ride, you will want to be dropping into waves just before the lip breaks.
Doing this will ensure you are neither too late nor too early.
If a wave is too small, then let it pass. If a wave is too large, duck dive under it and wait for some calmer swell.
8. Be Aware of Others in the Water
One of the biggest risks in surfing isn’t the ocean but the other people in it.
If you are bodyboarding in a busy spot with many people in the ocean, it’s important to keep an eye on what they are doing.
Others being careless in the water, especially with surfing equipment, can put your safety at risk, even if you are following all the etiquette.
If the water is too crowded, it’s best to find a quieter spot on the beach or to return on a different day.
9. Stay Away From Rocks and Rough Weather
As you are still learning the basics, there is no need to put yourself into dangerous situations when you don’t have to.
Although you will find some killer waves (such as reefs and point breaks) around rocky shores, they pose too much of a risk for new surfers.
Until you are confident in the water, it’s safer to stay away from hard objects that you could collide with.
Similarly, if the weather conditions are rough, it’s best to come back another day.
10. Warm-up First
We should always stretch before exercise, and yes, bodyboarding is incredibly good exercise.
Without warming up your muscles before surfing, you stand a higher risk of injury due to your tight muscles.
Even though you are a beginner bodyboarder and will be surfing small waves near shore, you will still find yourself twisted into random positions.
This could lead to serious injury if you don’t stretch before getting into the water.
11. Wax Your Board
If you want to stay secured to your bodyboard without sliding from side to side as you paddle or ride, then you will need to make sure you put wax on your board.
Surf wax increases friction between you and your board. This is necessary to prevent the water from making your board’s surface too slippery.
You may be able to get away without using surf wax when you surf smaller waves, but as you progress, you will quickly understand the importance of waxing your board before you head out.
12. Wear a Wetsuit
When you surf, it’s important to use the correct equipment, and a wetsuit falls into this category.
A wetsuit will keep you warm in colder water, which will allow you to surf for longer, as well as remain comfortable.
Not only do wetsuits keep you warm, but they will protect you from the sun and sharp ocean objects, as well as increase your buoyancy which will make it easier to swim and float when you fall off your bodyboard.
Always make sure that you use the correct wetsuit before surfing.
13. Lift Your Chest
Keep yourself centered on your board and raise your chest; this is the correct bodyboarding position unless you are riding in DK (drop knee).
remaining centered on your board will keep your weight well distributed, but lifting your chest will help you put pressure on the nose to speed up (or on the tail to slow down), as well as allow you to turn your board and see where you are going.
Once you are comfortable with the correct bodyboarding position, everything will seem slightly easier.
14. Always Use a Leash
No matter who you are or what you do, when you bodyboard, you will at some stage end up in the water with your board floating away from you.
This can be a disaster if the waves push your board all the way to shore, leaving you to swim back to retrieve it.
Instead of this constant battle, you should always make use of a leash.
As bodyboarders predominantly paddle with their feet, your leash should attach to your upper arm, forearm, or wrist.
Is Bodyboarding Difficult?
Bodyboarding isn’t a difficult sport to learn, but it is a difficult sport to master.
If you are wanting to get large air, surf hollow barrels, DK like a king, and surf some of the largest waves on the globe, then your bodyboarding path will seem daunting and difficult.
If, however, all you want to do is ride on some water, bodyboarding can be as simple as jumping onto a small wave near the shoreline.
In short, bodyboarding is easy to learn, but to master, there is a long and steep learning curve.
Do You Need to Be Able to Swim to Bodyboard?
Technically you don’t need to be able to swim if you want to bodyboard; however, doing this is incredibly dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
You should never attempt to enter the sea if you are not both confident in the ocean as well as a good swimmer.
As mentioned before, the ocean can be unpredictable, and at a moment’s notice, a current could pull you off course.
In short, if you aren’t comfortable jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool, then you have no place playing in the ocean.
How Do I Get Better at Bodyboarding?
Once you have got the basics of staying centered on your board, duck diving, paddling, and wave selection down, you will likely want to progress further with your bodyboarding, so what can you do to get better?
Master the Basics
Make sure that you have all your fundamentals down.
Ensure you are an efficient paddler, can duck dive, know which waves to paddle for, keeping your line, trimming, and pulling up on the nose are all things that you should fully understand and master before wishing to progress any further.
Remember, you need to learn to walk before you can run.
Improve Your Grip
The claw grip is one of the best ways to ensure you stay secured to your board while providing extra space to lift your chest, as well as making it easier to turn.
Most new bodyboarders lie flat on their board while holding onto the rails.
If you learn to grip the front of your board, you will move faster and have more control.
Follow Your Head
Your body naturally goes where we are looking, and more so when we turn out heads in a direction.
When you are attempting a new trick, or simply trying to find your line, remember to look towards the position you want to end up in.
Doing this will eliminate your need to “force” the movement.
Use the Currents
Keep an eye out for rip currents. Watch to see which direction other surfers are drifting, for rough unsettled water and smooth water running quickly from the shore.
Rip currents can help you make your way to the backline with very little effort if you know how to use them safely.
If, however, you find yourself caught in a rip and down, know what to do, don’t panic, and try to swim against it.
Instead, swim across the current until you are free from it, or alternatively, wait until it pulls you out behind the breakers (at which point it will die out) and then paddle around back to shore.
Surf With the Talented
One of the best ways to improve our skills at any given task is to practice them with others that know how to do what we are learning.
This remains true when your bodyboard.
Bodyboarding with surfers that are better than you will not only inspire you but will create an environment where you can watch and learn, as well as ask for advice.
If you are always the best bodyboarder in the water, you will find it difficult to improve as you have nothing to look towards.
Bodyboarding can bring you hours of fun, regardless of if you are a pro surfer or brand new to the sport.
Bodyboarding is easy, fun, and safe when done correctly, and can be enjoyed by everyone in your family, no matter what their age.
All you need is to find yourself the correct equipment, read the tips above, and get yourself down to the beach.