A Useful Guide to Bodyboarding for Beginners

A man bodyboarding on a wave

Bodyboarding is a fun and versatile watersport that anyone can do at any age! You don’t need much to get you started, so get your bodyboard at the ready and read on for some useful hints and tips!

Get Familiar with the Ocean

The first step, the same as with any water sport, you need to feel comfortable with water safety.

What You Need to Know

The essential aspects of water safety include:

• Rips
• Tides
• Currents
• Beach flags
• Hand signals

Where to Bodyboard

One of the most significant things to know as a bodyboarder is where you can safely bodyboard.

On a lifeguarded beach, the red and yellow flags are the designated area for bodyboarders and swimmers. The black and white flags are for surfers and hardboards.

As a bodyboard is considered a soft board, you must remain between the red and yellow flags for your safety and that of others.

For more information about beach flags and guidance on beach safety, take a look at our blog.

A pair of flippers stuck in the sand

Invest in the Essential Equipment

Fortunately, bodyboarding is one of the simplest and least expensive watersports. There are a few key things you will need:

• Bodyboard
• Bodyboard leash (keeps the bodyboard attached to your wrist)
• Wetsuit
• Fins and fin savers (as you advance)

Choosing the Right Bodyboard

Bodyboards come in many styles and sizes which can feel confusing. Here at Wetsuit Centre, we advise beginners to start with entry-level boards.

The perfect bodyboard should measure the height of your belly button when it is stood up next to you. You also must consider your weight as this can also affect the suitability of the board. If unsure, check with the buyer for a second opinion. Our helpful team at Wetsuit Centre are always on hand to help you when choosing a suitable bodyboard.

In terms of quality, a foam board with a plastic bottom is the type of board to look for. The core should be either polypropylene or polyethene, each with their own advantages. More advanced boards may come with a stringer which maximises the strength of the board, this may be something to consider when going in the water more often.

Why Wear a Wetsuit

A correct fitting wetsuit is essential to get the most out of your sessions in the water, especially in the UK! With colder waters, a wetsuit allows you to remain in the water for longer, meaning more time to practice and providing a much more pleasant experience.

Benefits of Fins

As you advance, you may want to consider using fins and fin savers. The main benefit of wearing fins is the extra traction you gain, making catching waves easier.

As you feel more comfortable in the sea, fins may also help when catching larger, blue waves as well as providing control when trimming waves.

All in all, fins increase the fun factor when catching waves!

An older man walking into the sea with a bodyboard

Paddling Out

Once you have the correct equipment, it is time to head into the water.

Depending on how confident you are initially feeling, you may want to wade out to waist depth, to begin with. As you gain confidence, you may want to go further out.

To paddle out, hold the top of the board with both hands and kick, keeping your feet under the water for better traction- you will notice this help to gain speed and power especially when wearing fins.

You can also centralise your weight on the board to balance and paddle with your arms as if you were swimming.

A boy catching a white water wave on his bodyboard

Catching a Wave

At the start of your bodyboarding career, you will be practising to catch broken, white water waves.

To catch a wave, turn towards the beach and begin paddling around two or two and a half metres from the wave. Kick with your legs as if swimming front crawl, feet in the water.

You can either paddle with both hands holding the top of the board with elbows resting on the board. As you improve, you may want to try only one hand holding the board and the other arm paddling.

Once you feel the wave pull you, it is time to stop paddling, ensure both hands are holding the board and enjoy the ride!

Turning

To turn the bodyboard, hold the opposite rail of where you want to turn and pull it towards you. It will make you lean into the wave and direct your board that way. For example, if turning left, hold the right rail towards you. If wanting to turn right, press the left side towards you.

As you advance, you may want to start learning turns and tricks. Or you may be happy with feeling the thrill of catching the wave to shore!

Either way, we hope our beginner’s guide has helped to get you started with bodyboarding! Got any questions? Why not contact us on our social media channels; we would love to hear from you!