How to Bodysurf Using a Handplane

Four Parts:Using the HandplaneGetting Out to the BreakPicking Your Wave and GoPicking a Line, Left or Right

For beginner handboarders: Get the start you need to take your bodysurfing with a handboard to new heights. You can do this by using a hand plane.

Part 1
Using the Handplane

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    Insert your dominant hand (right if you are right handed, left if you are left handed) into the adjustable hand strap.
    • Ensure that your palm is facing down and flat and that the strap fits snug (essentially giving your handboard a high five).

Part 2
Getting Out to the Break

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    Wade out to waist deep water, facing the horizon.
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    Lower yourself into the water and put your hand with the handboard outstretched in front of you. Take the other hand and place over the hand in the strap. With your body outstretched, kick and you will move forward quickly out past the breaking waves.
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    Once you are in position where the waves are breaking, turn around and face the shore, while keeping your attention on the approaching waves. Getting out to the break is a lot easier with a handplane. By placing the board out in front of you and kicking, the board keeps you buoyant and the kicking moves you forward. As the wave comes toward you, simply kick forward under the water and the wave with flow over you.

Part 3
Picking Your Wave and Go

The technique to catching the wave while you are handboarding/handplaning is essentially the same technique as catching the wave while bodysurfing without a handplane.

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    Position the arm with the handplane outstretched in front of you.
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    As the wave rolls towards you, kick hard and use your free arm in a freestyle swim stoke for that extra push. Once you get used to it you will find you will use the freestyle stroke less and less as you learn to judge the waves better.
    • The secret to this part is timing. Too fast and you are out in front of the wave. Too slow and the wave rolls over you.

Part 4
Picking a Line, Left or Right

Pick a line, left or right - surfer talk for pick which direction you are going to go. Right or left? Straight is never a good idea. Do it once on a decent sized wave and you won’t do it again. Remember, handplanes and handboards can go either right or left; they are ambidextrous.

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    Pick right or left, depending on which way the wave is breaking and you will get a much longer pitted ride. The forward momentum of the wave will pick you up and carry you with it.
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    At this point you've picked your line, and now it’s the point of no return so don't hesitate. Go for it! Stop stroking. Streamline your body and keep kicking down to a minimum. Become a human surfboard. Your fins are now your rudder and the board is the bow of your ship.
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    Angle your handboard across face of the wave to allow for longer surfing time.
    • At this point there are various options for the free arm. Leave it out to hang free, or bring it over to lay on top of the hand in the strap.


  • It is recommended that you have a few sessions of learning how to bodysurf without a handboard before you venture in with a handplane. This will help get you used to the ocean.
  • Fins make getting into a wave much easier. However, if you are handboarding in the shore break, it is sometimes easier to leave the fins on the beach. Having fins on when you’re close in can tire you out really quickly.


  • Being completely submerged in water will get cold, so check your local conditions and temperatures before you go.

Things You'll Need

  • Handboard or handplane
  • Wetsuit
  • Fins (optional)

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Surfing