How to Catch a Wave on a Bodyboard

Man bodyboarding barrel wave, Australia
Man bodyboarding barrel wave, Australia. mattpaul/Getty Images

The key to catching your first wave is to pick the right type of wave. When you first paddle out, you can simply turn around and let whitewater hit you from behind and ride to shore, but that excitement won't last you very long.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: A few days of practice

Here's How:

  1. So once you are done with learning the bodyboarding basics like paddling and catching whitewater, you are ready to pick the right wave. Be sure the wave has not broken but is plenty steep enough to push you. Keep an eye on where all the waves seem to be breaking. That is the area where the bottom gets shallow and allows the waves to stand up and fall over on itself. You want to wait for about five to ten feet beyond that area.
  2. Once the approaching wave is within five feet, paddle hard. If you need a refresher on paddling, refer back to the previous article. Kick as hard as you can with special attention on getting into the wave. Lean forward to gain speed and to allow your momentum to aid gravity to really grab hold on the wave's energy.
  3. At this point, bodyboarding is very precise. Depending on which direction you want to go, you will focus your weight on the inside right or left of the board. For example, if you want to go left, lean your hips towards the left side of the board and plant your left elbow on the upper left side of the deck of the board (grabbing the left half of the nose with your left hand), and hold onto the upper right edge of your board with your free hand.​​The opposite is true if you go right.
  4. Just like in a boat or on a surfboard, you'll want to achieve "trim" where your board is flat on the surface with maximum speed. That means that you need to lean forward just enough so that your nose doesn't go under. This will reduce your leg drag and help you to stay ahead of the breaking whitewater and give you more options for maneuvers.