Surf's Up! 8 Essential Boogie Boarding Tips for Beginners

Are you ready to try your hand at bodyboarding? These 8 essential boogie boarding tips for beginners will help you hit the surf with confidence.

Keyword(s): boogie boarding

The sun's shining. The surf's up. As you race to the shore, the soft golden sand's being pounded under your feet. The sound of the Beach Boys is so clear in your head that you're even humming Surfin' U.S.A.

All that's left is to throw down your boogie board and you're off!

But, just before you hit the waves, we're going to give you some help so that you get the most from boogie boarding.

As ever, it's all in the prep and our handy guide will help you to stay safe and pick the products that are right for you to get you started.

1. Get to know the ocean

Head to beaches which have waves that are less than two feet (about 60 cm) high and which are free of rocks or other hazards.

You should, of course, be able to swim, and you should also feel comfortable in the rough surf.

Safety is important but there's no real reason why you should ever be in danger if you follow a few simple rules when you're starting out.

Never surf alone and find a beach with a lifeguard. Always check the wind and surf reports before setting off.

Steer clear of the crowds and give yourself plenty of space.

Take a few minutes to tune into the waves and get an idea of their rhythm.

2. The Right Boogie Board for You

Select a boogie board that suits your height and weight.

Here's a general rule. Place the board in an upright position. It should come up to within 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) of your belly button.

For the width, you should be able to tuck the board under your arm quite easily but with your arm almost straight.

3. Swim Fins, Wetsuits, and Leashes

Choose bodyboard fins that are right for you. They'll help you kick your way safely out to the surf. And, they're great for steering and controlling the boogie board.

A wetsuit will keep your body warm in the cooler months and when you're warm your confidence levels will increase.

Always wear a leash: if you wipe out, it'll keep your board at an arm's reach. Attach it to your bicep or wrist, whichever you find more comfortable.

4. Wax Your Board

Wax your board and this will improve its grip on your chest.

Rub a small amount of surf wax to the top third of the board, called the nose, the bottom third of the board, called the tail, and the side edges of the boogie board called the rails.

5. Paddling and Duck Diving

And we're off!

Alternating between paddling out with your arms and legs will help you preserve energy.

When leg paddling, kick with the whole leg and ensure you're kicking under the water, not on the surface.

For arm paddling, move up on the board so your nose is a few inches from the top. Stretch your arm out and cup your hands to catch the water, a bit like an exaggerated front crawl.

During a duck dive, you should get both you and your board underneath a breaking wave.

Push the nose of the board underneath the surface as the wave approaches. Once under the water, push forward. When the wave has passed over you, pull the nose of the board towards the surface, using your knee to guide it.

Practice makes perfect!

6. Riding the Wave

Now the fun bit really begins!

Make the front of your board is facing the beach. Arch your back and keep your head up.

Paddle in the same direction that the wave is going to break.

As you feel the wave propelling you, stop paddling and apply your weight to the front of the board, with the lip of the board slightly raised. Keep your elbows on the board.

Enjoy the exhilaration. Once you've mastered riding the wave in a straight line to the shore, you'll be ready to start steering.

7. Steering While Boogie Boarding

Now we'll show you a few tricks and turns.

To turn right, press the board with your right elbow and hold the left rail with your left hand. To turn left, press the board with your left elbow and hold the right rail with your right hand.

Soon you'll be steering your way through that surf like a pro!

8. Make a Bottom Turn and a Cut Back

The thrill of riding your first few waves is unforgettable. Pretty soon you'll be used to the feel of the waves, your board and your speed.

Time for some more tricks, starting with a bottom turn which is the basis for all more advanced maneuvers on your boogie board.

  • Just when the wave catches you, keep your hands over the nose of the board and lean onto your left elbow to dig the rail of the boogie board into the wave.
  • LIft the right rail with your right hand.
  • After you begin turning, center your body weight on the board and lean forward bit by bit to gain speed.

A cut back is a turn back into the wave to help control speed or reposition yourself.

  • Shift your weight away from the wave and push the middle of your right rail with your right hand.
  • Raise the upper left corner of your board and lean to your right.
  • Pick a point on the inside of the wave where you'd like to stop your turn.
  • Once you're at that point, lean left and move your weight back to the normal position.

Enjoy the surf

You're all set now.

Get the most out of your boogie boarding by teaming up with other bodyboarders on popular beaches who'll be able to give you more top tips.

Always keep an eye on other people in the water though. Getting hit by a surfboard can be really painful.

And, remember to check the surf conditions. Check in with us for the latest reports!

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