Bodyboarding, sometimes referred to as boogie boarding is a great way to enjoy the thrill of the ocean. Bodyboarding is a water sport where you lie on a bodyboard and use it to ride the crest, face and curl of a wave as it moves towards the shore. Bodyboarding can build up your endurance and provides hours of fun and excitement at the beach. Here are some things you need to know to get started:
Choose the Right Bodyboarding Equipment
If you want to enjoy bodyboarding it’s important to begin with the right equipment. In addition to your bodyboard it is good to purchase some quality swim fins or flippers to help propel you through the water. Wearing fin socks will keep your feet comfortable and ensure a snug fitting flipper that moves with you, plus the extra piece of mind having fin savers securely looped around the rubber flipper strap. Most bodyboarders wear a rash guard or in combination with a wet suit which is great for warmth and protection against chafing. Finally, a bodyboard leash means your board will always stay at a safe distance so you can recover quickly.
Learn to Paddle with Your Bodyboard
Paddling is a skill you’ll want to master for bodyboarding and other water sports. You can even practice on dry land at first just to get the positioning right. Once you hit the water you’ll be ready to put all that hard work to good use. To begin, lie down on the board with your body weight centred. The tail end of the board should be at your lower belly area. Use both hands to hold onto the top or nose of the board and kick your feet. Once you are in the water, remember to keep your fins below the surface and the nose 25mm to 50mm (an inch or two) above the water. As you paddle out you will be using your arms to paddle as if you are swimming.
Choosing and Catching a Wave
When you’re just starting out look for white water waves that are coming straight toward the beach. These waves have enough power but are still within your level of experience. Walk out until you are about knee deep then lie down on your board and start to paddle out. Once you spot a good wave coming close, this is the time to turn around to face the shore. Start to kick your feet to pick up speed (remember: always keep them below the water for maximum thrust) and eventually you will start to feel yourself being carried by the wave.
Riding the Wave
Once you start to feel yourself catching the waves energy, stop paddling and transfer your weight to the front of the board keeping the lip slightly raised. Steer the board with your weight and arms. A good tip to keep in mind is to lean your weight in the direction you want to go leading with your hips. Put your elbow on the upper part of the board while you hold onto the nose on the leading side. Your other hand holds the opposite edge. As a beginner, your best bet is to work at riding waves straight back to the shore. This will help you build confidence while you get used the speed and control of the board.
To progress as a bodyboarder, keep working on strengthening your swimming skills. It’s a smart idea to choose an area where there is a lifeguard to help out if you get into trouble and always make sure you feel confident about the conditions before you head out. The thrill is just beginning, once you experience that amazing wave-riding feeling there’s no turning back!