How To Catch A Wave On A Bodyboard


5 top tips

  1. Always be aware of your surroundings. It’s easy to just focus on the incoming wave and not on other surfers or hazards.
  2. Practise paddling with your just your legs first. This tends to be the easiest yet most productive form of paddling on a bodyboard.
  3. Practise reading waves to identify the type of paddling needed to catch specific waves. Slower waves will need less velocity and power to get into. Larger, steeper waves will demand more thrust and paddle speed.
  4. Don’t splash! Splashing your fins on the surface of the water will not propel you in any direction. You will only waste energy.
  5. Watch our video. We’ve been paddling for waves for years… it’s almost become more normal than walking!

Do you want to catch the best waves every session? Then read on! In this video and description we break down the various factors that will help you to catch the best waves of your life. If you really fancy upping your paddling game, why not join us on a coaching weekend or bodyboard holiday?

There are a few basic but very important body positions you need to adopt every time you paddle for a wave. These body positions will ensure you paddle with at maximum velocity, whilst being stable on your board. These basic positions will also assist in a smooth transition between paddling and catching the wave. You’ll learn how to shift your body weight forward and move your hand from the nose to the rail when looking to engage in a bottom turn.

To begin, you need to paddle in an upright position with an arched back. Arching your back not only gives you more control and speed when paddling but makes the distribution of your body weight across the deck of your bodyboard evenly spread. Slumping in a flat position on your board leaves you less agile and lessens the chances of successfully paddling into waves. The second being arm and hand position. This will vary depending on the type of paddling you are doing.

Paddling with you arms

So you’re arching your back, your chest is upright and your head is up and looking in the direction that you want to go. Your hips should to be pressing against the tail of your board with both legs totally submerged under the water. Time to get padding!

If you’re paddling with your arms you need to use the front crawl stroke. Using alternate arms – stretching as far forward as you can and plunging your arms as deep into the water as possible. Drawing each stroke as far back as you can each time. Remember to keep your back arched!

Paddling with just your legs

When paddling with just your legs, your hands should be holding onto the front corners of your board with your elbows locked out in front of you. If your back is arched, this should come quite easily. Ideally, you want the top half of your body to be in a triangle position, with your head being the top point (check video @ 0.32), your hands being the second point and your hips being the third point. Kick with the whole of your leg completely immersed, remember that it’s the downward stroke that gives you the thrust.

Paddling with your arms and legs

If you decide that you’re going to ramp it up a gear and paddle with both legs and arms, you’ll need to position yourself with a low centre of gravity over your board. Because both your legs and arms will be moving simultaneously, being lower on your board will lessen the chance of you slipping off your board or your board popping out from underneath you. This is the only time that your back will not be arched when paddling. Lower your head and chest to keep the nose of the board flat on the water, and then paddle with your legs and arms as described above. You will feel a massive difference in the thrust produced and it’s definitely the technique to use when you want to get yourself into a wave quickly.

When you’ve got into the wave, keep your legs and fins out of the water, to minimise drag and maximise speed!

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