Thinking of picking up a new hobby that involves catching waves and getting in on the thrill of the ride? Try bodyboarding! This might be your next go-to hobby.
What is Bodyboarding?
While sometimes described as an easier alternative to surfing, what differentiates bodyboarding from surfing is that this water sport involves riding the waves in a prone position, with your torso pressed against the surface of the board—hence the name, “bodyboarding” (though this is not always the case as some tricks involve partially standing on the board, or even fully standing in some competitions).
There is no clear information where bodyboarding was originally founded, but, according to some theories, it came as an early form of surfing centuries ago. Indigenous Polynesians rode wooden boards on their bellies as means of riding the waves.
It was only later in the early 1970s in Southern California that Tom Morey modernized the bodyboard and invented the “boogie board” which was then just made out of polyethylene foam. Bodyboarding was also referred to as “boogie-boarding” due to this.
Today, the average bodyboard is much shorter than a surfboard and is usually made out of a rectangular-shaped piece of foam, which you can tell is going to be a little bit easier to carry around. Apart from the board, modern bodyboarders wear swim fins for a better push as they catch the waves.
Benefits of Bodyboarding
Develops your arm and leg muscles
Seasoned bodyboarders can attest that the majority of what you’ll be doing in this sport is paddling and kicking. With the amount of time you’ll be spending paddling just to catch a wave, your arms and leg muscles are bound to improve.
Strengthens your heart and lungs
Any watersport is generally thought to be great cardio, and it’s not any different when it comes to bodyboarding!
Bodyboarding builds up coordination
One of the basics of bodyboarding is keeping yourself centered and balanced while on your board. With you constantly trying not to fall off the board, your coordination will surely improve over time.
Relaxes the mind
Nothing spells ~relaxation~ more than being in such close contact with the warm sun and the calming sea while bodyboarding.
Offers a ton of fun!
Bodyboarders keep coming back to this sport simply because it’s enjoyable— ’nuff said.
1. Make sure you’re fully prepared
Okay, so it’s your first time to try this, and you’re pretty excited about it. That’s understandable. However, before you actually get on the water with only your bodyboard and your sheer courage equipped, you might want to consider the following things.
How are the sea conditions?
Your local coast guard would normally give out warnings if the sea conditions are safe for water sports. Before heading to the nearest bodyboard area, tune in to local news or check out the location’s website for probable sea warnings.
Are you a good swimmer?
It goes without saying that you should know how to swim in open water.
Do you have the right gear?
You don’t need a lot of equipment in order to start. Apart from a bodyboard, here are just the three other things you’ll need:
Leash: Get yourself a leash that attaches to your bodyboard and your upper arm. The leash is there to make sure you don’t lose your board when you wipe out.
Wetsuits or Rash Guards: Bodyboarding, much like all other watersports, exposes your skin to harsh environments. Wearing the right body protection gear protects you from the sun and lessens irritations from the bodyboard. A wetsuit or rash guard will also keep you warm when you’re riding on cold water.
Fins: Bodyboarders would usually wear fins on their feet for extra propulsion while catching the waves. Fin socks are also recommended to wear under your fins for extra comfort.
Before going directly into the water, try practicing your positions on dry land. The optimal position for bodyboarding is to have yourself hold on to the “nose”, or the top part of your bodyboard with both hands, and have the “tail”, or the end of your bodyboard, positioned under your lower belly.
While at it, you can start practicing your paddling by kicking your feet. Once in the water though, you can try paddling your feet just below the water’s surface to ensure better propulsion. When paddling with your arms, paddle on the side of the bodyboard as though you’re pulling the water behind you.
3. Getting into the water
Once you feel confident enough with your practice, you can now try bodyboarding on the water! For this, walk up to the water until it’s about knee deep before resting yourself on your bodyboard and start paddling towards the waves. A quick note though: Look for whitewater waves that are headed in the direction of the beach, otherwise, you may end up wiping out elsewhere.
4. Catching a wave
Put your previous practice to the test as you head out towards your wave. Make sure though that the wave you chose isn’t too high or too fast especially if you’re just starting out with the sport. Choose a wave that’s going at a comfortable pace for you, you have all the time to try out much higher waves when you get a hang of it. Once you’ve spotted a good location for appropriate level waves, start paddling towards that direction with your arms and kick your fins below the surface as you did during practice.
5. Practice Duck Diving
During your bodyboarding experience, there would be instances where a broken wave is headed towards you and it just keeps you far off track from the wave you were going for. This is where the duck dive comes in handy. Basically, a duck dive allows you to momentarily dive under a wave you don’t want to catch. As bodyboards are pretty small and lightweight, it’s fairly easy to push them under the water with enough body force.
You can do this by doing the following:
When you see a wave about 3-6 feet away coming towards you, hold on to the nose of your bodyboard and push it down as you slide your body forward.
To push your bodyboard further down the surface of the water, use your knees and press down on the bodyboard.
When you’re deep enough, dive under the wave with your body pressed against your bodyboard as close as possible.
Once the wave passes, guide the nose of your bodyboard upwards while putting your weight near the tail as you propel yourself above water.
This trick requires practice to get it right, but rest assured once you get a hang of it, it’ll be much easier to move towards the wave you’re looking for.
6. Getting close to the wave
When the time comes that you’ve finally made it close enough to the wave you were going for, you must quickly turn the opposite way and position yourself facing the beach. Keep in mind that you must catch the wave when it’s high enough to be able to carry you forward but not too high to be at the point of breaking (or where whitewater starts to form).
Paddle towards the beach as hard as you can until you feel the pull of the wave propelling you forward. Once you get caught in the wave, you’ll feel yourself speeding up and this is where you get to actually ride the wave.
7. Riding the wave
This means creating a “trim” line across the face of the wave, usually in the direction where the wave is breaking. This “trim” is the trail you leave behind as you graze your bodyboard through the water and you can achieve this by learning to maneuver your board either to the left or to the right using your body weight to press down on the side of the bodyboard.
Bodyboarders have plenty of tricks up their sleeves as they try to ride the waves, but for someone just starting out, I recommend keeping the basic position you practiced as you travel down the wave. For extra speed, you can try pushing down the nose of your bodyboard lightly, and if you’re going too fast, lift the nose of your board a few inches from the water to create friction and slow down.
After riding the wave and reaching the shallow part of the water, you can either take a break or try again! Fair warning, it gets a little addicting when you get to ride your first wave so be sure to give yourself a break every once in a while. There’s always next time, right?
Simple Tricks for Beginners
The cut-back is one of the earliest tricks you’ll learn. This trick is essentially done when you speed down the face of the wave too fast and you want to turn around and catch it again before it breaks.
To perform a cut-back, you’ll want to move down to a direction of the wave quickly and pick a portion where you can start turning your bodyboard in the opposite direction.
To do the turn, place your weight on the outside rail of your bodyboard with your hand pulling at the nose to create an arc. You can do this trick as many times as you want as long as the wave holds off.
As the name suggests, this trick requires you to have one leg in a kneeling position while another leg is positioned at the front of the bodyboard. The drop-knee is the closest trick to surfing and can be pretty tricky to do. With practice enough though, you’ll get a hang of it.
To perform the drop-knee, assume your position on the bodyboard with a kneeling position. When you’re trying to lift your other leg, use your hand to balance the bodyboard. Once you’ve got a good balance, you can let go of the board entirely and start riding.
Forward Spin 360°
Once you’ve gotten a hang of the first few other tricks, this one would be easier to perform. You just have to practice. The forward spin 360°, as the name suggests, lets you spin on the wave in a full 360° rotation.
To perform this trick, you’ll want to pick a point where you’ll make the rotation. Once you’re ready to do the trick, place your weight on the inner rail of your bodyboard and brace your shoulder to withstand the wave, and then start to spin.
Start catching some waves!
Whether or not you’re picking up bodyboarding as a hobby or as a serious sport, it’s fairly easy to get in on the fun. After all, aspiring bodyboarders only need 4 things to get started.
This water sport is a great option for enjoying your first wave feels because it’s easier than surfing. Despite this, you can still perform exciting tricks. You can try various flips and spins to add more flavor to an already thrilling sport!
So, what are you waiting for? The waves are just begging to be caught! 🙂 Use your newfound knowledge on bodyboarding and get out there! Conquering your first wave is just beyond the horizon.
If you still have questions about bodyboarding, or you just wanna talk about water sports, do not hesitate to DM me on our Facebook or Instagram. I would be more than happy to help you catch waves! Also, don’t forget to leave a comment and follow us!
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