How to Start Bodyboarding

If you're reading this, you probably have a new bodyboard or "sponge" and you're ready to get out there and start tearing it up in the water! Check out some of these steps to get you out there and gliding across double overhead barrels in no time!


  1. Image titled Start Bodyboarding Step 1
    In the beginning of your bodyboarding career, you're going to want to keep in mind that this is a sport, it takes time to develop a familiarity with the water. If it was really easy everyone would be doing it!
  2. Image titled Start Bodyboarding Step 2
    After you have the right view of what you're going to be dedicating yourself too, you need to also keep in mind this sport is very physically demanding! You're going to need to hold your breath at times for a long duration of time, you're going to need to go under the water consistently over and over to get under waves and out to the sweet spot.
  3. Image titled Start Bodyboarding Step 3
    Now before just running out into the water with your new sponge, make sure that you have the right size of board for your body type! They come in different sizes based on your height and weight. Having the right bodyboard will determine how fast you glide waves, how difficult the paddle out is, and how easy it will be to bust spins and airs.
  4. Image titled Start Bodyboarding Step 4
    Ok, so you got your board, you're ready to work out, next what you're going to need is fins. They go onto your feet, usually a good pair of fins today costs around 40-60$, but it's a very good investment. You will be able to swim circles around anyone without them, and they help you catch waves and maneuver through the water.
  5. Image titled Start Bodyboarding Step 5
    So you've got all the gear! You're ready to go out now. Before dashing into the water, check out the waves, check out the current, is it low tide? Is it a high tide? Why is there a big group of surfers in one spot, but nothing is going on? What is going to be the easiest way to get where they are, without getting hit by a big swell? How is the form on the waves? Are they taking a long time to break? Are they majority left waves or right waves?
  6. Image titled Start Bodyboarding Step 6
    Once you've spent a couple minutes analyzing the water, you're going to adjust your leash to your arm, and walk out holding onto your fins in one of your hands, once the water is up to about knee high, put on the fins and start paddling out. Usually while paddling you can use 2 methods, keeping your legs together and paddling with your arms, (like you would on a surfboard ), or positioning your hands on the front center of the board almost touching each other and paddling under the water with your fins. This cannot be stressed enough; while paddling make sure your fins are underneath the water, otherwise you aren't going to anywhere.
  7. Image titled Start Bodyboarding Step 7
    Prepare for a wave you aren't ready for. So you're moving nicely out towards the water, but uh oh! You see a big wave that's getting ready to crash RIGHT in front of you, you're doomed!...not really. There is a really cool method of getting through these waves no problem and keep going towards the sweet spot, this method is called "Duck Diving".
    • Duck Diving isn't always the best way to get under a wave. If it's a big wave about to break right on your head, you might want to bail your board and let the leash do the work. However, in most situations, a well-timed, well-executed Duck Dive is definitely the most efficient way. Kick to gain forward momentum. When the whitewash or wave face is about six feet away, quickly grab your board about 1/3 of the way down the rails and do a push-up. At the same time, slide one knee onto the back tail section of your board. Just before the wave hits you, force all of your weight down onto the board trying to sink as much of the board and your body as possible. Keep your face close to the board and wait for the turbulence to pass over, then angle the board upward and pull your knee off the back. Your board should pop up. The key is to be able to sink your board. If your board is too big or you aren't doing the push-up right, you won't succeed, so practice in the flat water and you'll be ready to "dunk" the big ones!
  8. Image titled Start Bodyboarding Step 8
    Ok! So you have made it out! It's time to catch your first wave! As the wave approaches, kick hard with your feet underwater! You can also help yourself catch the wave by pushing down on the nose of the board with one hand and paddling with the other. Once you've chosen to go right or left, it's time to get yourself in place on the board. Let's say you've chosen to go right. First, you should have made sure there was no one on the wave behind you coming toward you. If so, kick out right away.
  9. Image titled Start Bodyboarding Step 9
    To go right, move your body to the inside (right) edge of the board and apply pressure with your right hip to the back edge. Slide your right hand to the top right corner with your right elbow planted firmly along the right edge of the board. Your left hand should be around 1/3 down the outside (left) edge of your board with your left arm slightly bent and the elbow in air. Your right hand and elbow are controlling your edge and keeping it in the wave and your left hand and arm are controlling your direction and turning ability. If you go left on the wave, just reverse all the body, hand and arm positions.


  • Surfing and Bodyboarding believe it or not has a lot of politics involved, you need to pay attention to a lot of things. When trying to catch a wave always look to both sides, and make sure no-one is already paddling for the wave. This is called snaking, snaking someone can get you into serious trouble in the water, and also give you a nasty reputation.
  • When you make your first mistake and a big wave totally crushes you, I cannot stress this enough, relax, do not fight it; everything will be okay, you will safely float to the top, just close your eyes, and let your body go limp, your going to tumble around a little bit, but think of it as a ride, if you fight it and scramble and try to swim to the top, not only will you not make it out, you'll lose air.
  • Always try to keep relaxed in the water, keep calm breathing patterns, and try to stay focused on keeping composure. Getting sloppy in the water after getting barreled is just a recipe for disaster.


  • Always check and see if your boarding over a reef (rocks instead of sand) below you. Getting tumbled onto a reef can cause some serious physical damage.
  • Always pay attention what kind of water your surfing in, where is the current, where are the waves breaking, and how far are other people from me.
  • Always pay attention to the current, if you don't this could cost you. Don't go afloat with the current, go against it. Remember you need to know how to swim well.
  • When learning to bodyboard, expect to get cuts on your shin and heels. Be careful if there are sea urchin in the coral. As you get experienced you will seek bigger waves and because bigger waves break in deeper water your shins will not get banged up as much. An advanced bodyboarder will rarely meet with the coral, so accept getting cuts as temporary. The great part of bodyboarding in coral reefs vs sand is that the wave rides on some coral reefs only close out on the inside and very long rides are possible on the days when the swells are 6–8 feet (1.8–2.4 m) and bigger.

Article Info

Categories: Surfing