When most people think of bodyboarding, they think of someone lying flat on a small foam board and riding their way into shore on the fluffy white water.
Drop Knee bodyboarding is one example of how bodyboarding is far from what the general public’s view of it is.
So what Is Drop Knee Bodyboarding?
When a bodyboarder rides in a drop knee position, they ride with one foot and one knee on the board. This can be seen as a combination between bodyboarding, surfing, and knee boarding.
Let’s take a deeper look into drop knee bodyboarding, its origins, some tips if you are struggling, and a few questions you may have on the topic.
What Is Drop Knee Bodyboarding?
DK (Drop Knee), when referred to in the surfing world, is a stance most commonly taken on a bodyboard.
In this stance, the rider has their front foot and their back knee on the bodyboard as they ride along a wave.
This is a similar position that you would expect a rifleman to take.
Another way of thinking about drop knee is if you were surfing and dropping your back knee down while standing on your front foot, you would be in a drop knee position.
In short, drop knee is a combination of stand-up surfing and knee boarding but is most commonly practiced on a bodyboard.
Who Invented Drop Knee Bodyboarding?
In the 1970s, Jack Lindholm, often referred to as “Jack the Ripper” (because of how he tore up the surf), pioneered the drop knee stance.
When Jack dropped in at the pipeline and got barreled in drop knee position, it changed the direction of bodyboarding forever.
Although no days, bodyboards and fins are made with drop knee in mind, in Jack’s time, he had to make do with what everyone else was using, which put him far ahead of his time.
Is It Hard to Ride Drop Knee on a Bodyboard?
When we watch the pros such as drop knee world champion, Sammy Morretino, riding in a drop knee stance seems as easy as taking a breath, but to those who are new to drop knee, the truth is very different.
Drop knee is one of the hardest surf stances to master, and it becomes even more difficult when done on a bodyboard, as opposed to a surfboard.
As bodyboards are smaller and less buoyant, your balance needs to be on point, even more so than on a surfboard.
Furthermore, because of your fins, getting your leg up to the front of the board fast enough and with enough grace is a challenge on its own.
That being said, with the correct bodyboard, fins, and some decent waves, anyone can learn. It’s just a matter of time and dedication.
How Do You Drop Knee Surf on a Bodyboard?
As mentioned above, learning to drop your knee is tricky, and the learning curve is steep, but if you stay dedicated and follow the below steps, then you will be up on your knee and shredding waves in no time.
1. Choose The Correct Wave
As all surfers know, wave selection is key if you want to get the most out of your ride. This is no different when we drop knee.
Although many people will suggest learning to drop knee on smaller waves, you will find it easier to gain enough power on slightly more powerful waves of 3 – 4 feet.
2. Paddle as Usual
After you have spotted a wave you want to ride, put yourself in the key position and paddle onto the wave as normal.
It is a good idea to put in some extra effort here to help you generate more speed (the faster you move, the easier it will be to pop into DK).
Kick and potentially paddle with your arms until you feel yourself drop into the wave.
3. Pop Up/ Onto Your Knees
Once you have dropped in, you have two options.
The first is to pop up onto both knees first, similar to the way you would when surfing a kneeboard.
The second option is to pop up as though you were on a surfboard, but instead of jumping to your feet, land your back knee on the board, and bring your front foot around the rail to land on the front of your bodyboard.
4. Bring Your Front Foot Forward
If you have popped onto your knees first, then once you are stable (ideally sooner than later), you can bring your front foot around and up in the same manner mentioned above.
This can be challenging at first because of your fins, so it is important to exaggerate the movement to eliminate your fin dragging in the water.
5. Tighten Your Core
Once you are in the drop knee position, you should tighten your core and squeeze the inner sides of your legs in to assist you in remaining on the board.
6. Enjoy The Wave
Once you are stable and on the wave, turn your shoulders to face the direction you want to surf, set your line, and carve up the wave face like a DK pro.
8 Tips to Ride Drop Knee the Best Way Possible
Still struggling to master the drop knee, or maybe you know how to DK but are wishing to fine-tune some rough edges?
The following tips will help you drop knee in the best way possible, as well as help get you onto your knees sooner than you would have previously thought.
1. Knee Placement
The leg you bring up will depend on the board you use. Some bodyboards have their leash in the center of the board, which gives you the choice of DK on both sides.
If your leash is skewed to a single side, then you will need to bring the opposite foot forward.
Regardless of which foot you bring to the front, your back knee should be securely planted on the back of your board with your fin hanging from the tail.
Keeping your knee close to the rail will put pressure on the rail, which will help avoid sliding out.
Keep your knee too close to the rail, however, and you will dip the rail into the water and fall.
Furthermore, sitting on your back calf will not only make it more difficult to generate speed but will look lazy.
Speed is important for DK as we put more of our weight on our small bodyboards, which means it takes more to keep us on top of the water.
Without sufficient speed, you will find it near impossible to drop knee.
This is why it is not only important to paddle harder than you would for a prone ride but to choose your waves wisely.
Of course, it’s not a great idea to dry to learn to DK on massive, hollow, barreling waves, but trying to learn on small crumbly waves won’t help you either.
The best waves to learn how to DK are 3 – 4 feet big with steep faces, but not too big that you can’t control yourself and your board.
As your DK bodyboard doesn’t have fins, your board will slide if you don’t find another means of control.
This is why our back fin needs to hang in the water. This acts as a sort of rudder and will help keep you traveling in a straight line.
Although this causes some drag, your shorter bodyboarding fins will help reduce the friction.
Furthermore, the rails of your bodyboard will help hold your position. This is why it is important to keep your knee close to the rail.
Riding DK is one of the most challenging surf positions and requires more balance than in the prone position, as well as when riding on a stand-up surfboard.
Because your balance needs to be on point and your board is small, it is important to find yourself in the optimum position on your bodyboard.
This will take some time, but as you practice, you will learn where you best hold your center of gravity.
5. Board Direction
To direct your board while in drop knee, it is important to remember not to face your board down the line, but instead, face it at a 45-degree angle to the shore.
Because bodyboards don’t have fins, they will slide if you point your board down the line while in DK.
Instead, face your head and shoulders down the line and lean over towards the face to move in the direction you wish to ride.
Timing is everything when it comes to DK. Not only do you need to begin paddling at the correct time, but popping into a DK position needs to be executed perfectly.
Pop up too early, and you won’t have enough speed and therefore fall off the back of the wave.
Pop your knee too late, and you will have been pushed too far by the white water, thus missing out on the shoulder of the wave and therefore the clean wave face.
Try to only bring your leg up once you feel yourself dropping into the wave, and try to do this in a quick, fluid motion.
This will take some practice, but once you find the sweet spot, you will understand it forever.
7. Use The Correct Gear
It’s always a good idea to use bodyboarding fins instead of snorkeling or swimming fins while bodyboarding, as bodyboarding fins are shorter and stiffer.
Although it is still possible to use longer fins while bodyboarding, this is not the same case with a drop knee.
As you will be bringing your leg out of the water, you will need shorter fins so as to not get them caught in the water or on your board.
Furthermore, bodyboards that are designed for DK are slightly larger and more buoyant to compensate for the added weight.
8. Start On Your Knees
If you are struggling to get your front foot forward and constantly find yourself falling over, then you could start by practicing moving onto your knees first.
Pop yourself onto your board with both knees down (as if you were on a kneeboard).
Your knees should be in the bottom 3/4 of your bodyboard. Too far back and you will slow yourself down too much. Too far forward and you will nose dive.
Once you are able to remain balanced on your knees, you can practice bringing your front foot forward.
Can You Stand Up on the Bodyboard?
Drop knee is challenging, but standing up on a surfboard with both feet takes it a step further.
It is possible to stand up on a bodyboard, although this is far less popular than drop knee or riding prone.
Although stand-up bodyboarding was most popular during the 1980s and 1990s, it has since become somewhat of a forgotten technique.
That being said, it isn’t any less challenging than it was before.
To stand up on a bodyboard, you should follow the same steps as you would when popping up on a surfboard.
That being said, because bodyboards are much smaller, your feet will need to be closer together and your knees more bent to ensure that you maintain a strong center of gravity.
This can be significantly more challenging than expected, but if you have mastered riding in DK, then you will have a slight advantage, thanks to your practice with balancing on a small board.
Keep in mind, that when we ride in DK, we still make use of our fins, but when standing up on a bodyboard, we don’t use fins, which means all the paddling is done with your arms.
This is easier said than done when trying to generate enough speed on a tiny flotation device.
DK (drop knee) is one of the most difficult bodyboarding stances, but when mastered, will bring an entirely new world to the sport.
Drop knee is a lot like stand-up surfing with one knee dropped down (hence the name).
As a maneuver that combines bodyboarding, surfing, and kneeboarding, it may be a challenge to learn, but the learning curve is fun, and when you get to the other side, you will never look back.