How do I duck dive waves on a bodyboard?

5 top duck diving tips

  1. The bigger the wave is, the earlier you should aim to become submerged. Bigger waves tend to travel at a greater speed than smaller ones. Getting as deep as possible is also really important in larger waves.
  2. The main hazard with duck diving at shallow reefs is hitting the reef by going too deep.  Avoid scratching your fingers on the reef by keeping your hands flat on the board’s deck or by clutching the board’s rails – don’t put them underneath.
  3. Always be aware of your surroundings. Make sure you are looking out for any danger throughout your bodyboard session, but especially when you are duck diving. You should always be wary of hazards such as shallow or exposed reef/rock, surfers/bodyboarders on the wave you are attempting to duck dive and surfers/bodyboarders behind the wave you have just duck dived. Try and keep your eyes open throughout the duck dive!
  4. If for any reason you need to bail your board or you fall off during a duck dive, please remember to use the ‘hand helmet’ position. This simple yet hugely effective safety practice will significantly reduce potential head injuries whilst the energy of the wave subsides and you resurface.
  5. Remember, practice makes perfect! Start off small and in deeper water. This is also a great thing to practise on small/flat days either in the sea or in the swimming pool!


How to duck dive waves on your bodyboard with Rob Barber – Bodyboard Holidays 

Duck diving isn’t the sports most glamorous move but is arguably the most important of them all. The humble duck dive will ultimately help you to catch the best waves each session. When you’ve learned the basics your confidence will soar. The sense of relief that you experience after nailing an amazing duck dive under a ten-foot wave is one of the high points of any experienced bodyboarders session.

Here at Bodyboard-Holidays we’re self-confessed bodyboarding addicts and love nothing more than sharing the skills to help you score the best waves of your life on one of our international bodyboard holidays. Or helping you to finesse your riding skills on one of our coaching weekends. While it’s not as awe-inspiring as aerials, tube rides and carving spins, the duck dive is a cornerstone skill of bodyboarding. With this advice article and video, we can help you nail it!

Duck diving is an essential skill that all bodyboarders aim to make second nature. Duck diving is how bodyboarders get under oncoming waves out beyond the breaking waves and into the area known as the ‘outback’. This particular skill becomes vital in big surf or when a wave is about to break on top of you or in front of you. Using the technique below will ensure your paddle out is successful and will greatly reduce being washed back to shore by the oncoming waves.  In the long term, it will save you hours of frustration so give it 100%.

The start of a successful duck dive begins by paddling towards the oncoming wave as fast as you can (check video @ 0.20). You will need to keep your eyes fixed on the wave, monitoring its speed and judging the distance as it comes towards you. The bigger the wave, the earlier you should duck dive and the deeper you should plunge. For small waves, you only need to dip under with a shallower duck dive.

For a head high wave, you should duck dive when the wave is roughly two metres away, slide your weight forward and move your hands about 30cm down from the nose, gripping tightly onto the rails (check video @ 0.35). Push your upper body upwards into a press-up position with your head directly over the nose of your bodyboard. As your board begins to sink below the water, shove your knee into the tail to guide it downwards at a 45 degree angle (check video @ 0.37). Next, stretch your other leg out behind you. This helps stabilise you under the water and reduces the chance of being dragged backwards by the wave as it passes over you. With the correct timing and board position under the water, the wave will now be passing over the top of you. As this happens, you need to make yourself as flat as possible, pushing your board out in front of you, with your hands gripped in the same position and your arms laying flat on the deck of the board. Your head is looking up at the white water passing over the top of you and your stomach down to your toes are as flat as possible (check video @ 0.41).

When the wave has passed, angle your bodyboard upwards bending your arms slightly, whilst always looking where you are going (check video @ 0.43). Throughout the whole duck dive process, you should be kicking with your fins to avoid being dragged back.

Once you have mastered the art form that is duck diving, your confidence in the surf is guaranteed to skyrocket!

Get out there and give it a go… and remember to have fun!

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