If you’re dreaming of catching waves, and would like to learn how to boogie board- you’ve come to the right place! Seaside Planet is a community of beach and ocean lovers, dedicated to getting you on the water as soon, and safely, as possible!
Boogie boarding, also known as bodyboarding, is a fun ocean sport which allows you to catch waves both casually or as a serious sport. A great activity for all skill levels, you’ll want to choose a board designed for beginners, grab the best bodyboarding gear, find the perfect location on the beach, and hit the surf!
To help you get started quickly, here we’ve gathered a beginner’s guide for learning how to bodyboard and tricks to practice along the way!
A Step by Step Guide to Boogie Boarding
Boogie boarding has a fast learning curve for beginners, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. While you can learn to ride the face of a wave in a matter of hours, an advanced trick like the back flip or 360 will take many days of practicing.
If you’re looking for a good time at the beach, this sport may be for you! Join the novice bodyboarding community using these techniques:
Before Boogie Boarding
1. Find a boogie board suited to your needs.
As a beginner bodyboarder, you’ll want to choose an entry-level board for catching waves at the beach. Beginner boards are designed for those learning the sport, and are typically the least expensive options on the market. While these boards aren’t designed for large wave riding, they’re ideal for the small waves you’ll be catching while you practice your new tricks on the water.
When choosing which style boogie board is right for you, select an option suited to your height and weight. The board should reach to about 1 inch from your belly button when standing on its tail end. Additionally, it should be a width that’s comfortable to carry under your arm and against the side of your body, without too much room between your armpit and the edge of the board.
2. Prepare your bodyboard.
Much like a surfboard, a boogie board requires preparation before hitting the waves, and maintenance for longevity afterwards. Waxing your board before hitting the water makes for optimal bodyboarding because it improves your grip while riding.
The best way to prepare your bodyboard is to apply a small amount of wax to the:
Note: Maintaining your board after riding requires a gentle cleaning, and storage out of direct sun or extreme heat.
3. Wear appropriate boogie boarding gear.
The best bodyboarding gear depends on your needs in the water. Here are some of the main pieces of gear you’ll need:
The only crucial piece of gear on this list is the boogie board, but the others add additional benefits while hitting the surf. For example, while swim fins aren’t necessary to boogie board, they will help you excel from the shallows to the deeper water waves. A rashguard and wetsuit, on the other hand, are designed to protect your skin from UV damage and to retain heat to your body.
Depending on the temperature of the water you’ll be bodyboarding in, the weather conditions, and your needs in the water- you’ll find what’s best for you in our bodyboarding gear section.
4. Choose a beach spot with small waves and calm waters.
Choosing the optimal beach spot to catch some waves on your boogie board requires a bit of exploring. Ideally you’ll want to be at a beach with a lifeguard, minimal hazards and sand-bottomed shores. Additionally, as a novice to the sport you’ll want to ensure you pick a location without motor boats, or rocky shores to ensure your safety on the water.
A beach spot with calm waves less than 2 ft. high is great for beginners learning how to bodyboard. You’ll want to make sure the waves in that area aren’t too big for both practicing the basic skills and exceling to more advanced tricks.
5. Secure the boogie board to your wrist or arm.
Securing the bodyboard to your arm or wrist ensures you remain in control of the board, even if you end up underwater. To avoid losing your boogie board in the current, choose an option that features a leash that attaches to your arm with ease. Before hitting the water, secure the leash- and then you’re ready to go!
How to Ride the Waves
1. Get into the boogie boarding position.
Wade into the shallows until you’re knee-deep in the water, then lie down on your boogie board, belly down. Your hips should have direct contact with the board tail, and your hands and elbows should comfortably rest on the top corners and rails of the board.
2. Position yourself in the water where waves are breaking.
Maneuver yourself in the water to prepare for catching your first wave by paddling to a spot where the waves are breaking. While paddling out, keep your fins underwater and use both your hands and feet to propel yourself through the water.
3. Choose which wave you want to ride.
Not every wave is the perfect wave, and it’s up to you to decide which is right for you. As a beginner to the sport, you’ll want to start by attempting smaller and less powerful waves and then gradually advance to larger ones in deeper waters.
4. Point the nose of the board towards the shore.
When preparing to ride a wave, point the nose of the board towards the beach before the wave starts to break. At this point, you’ll also want to get your body into position by keeping your head high and comfortably arching your back.
5. Paddle and kick towards the shore.
When the wave starts to break, you need to be moving in the same direction towards the shore. The best way to catch a wave is to get ahead of it, while positioning yourself in the heart of it and avoiding the crest.
Keep your legs comfortably resting apart with your fins underwater, and move yourself through the water using your hands and feet to gain speed.
6. Catch the wave!
Now you’re in position on the perfect wave, and it’s time to ride! If you’ve caught the wave just right, you’ll find yourself gliding effortlessly on top of the ocean towards the shore. At this point you can rest your limbs from paddling and kicking, and simply let the wave do the work bringing you back to the beach.
For ultimate control while riding, keep your legs resting comfortably apart and elbows on the board.
One Step Further: Try Maneuvers and Tricks
While bodyboarders around the world enjoy this fun ocean sport without needing to advance their skill sets, learning tricks can be a great way to challenge yourself on the water. While some are more basic, like a simple turn, others like the back flip and 360 require much more technical precision.
Here are 5 bodyboarding tricks and maneuvers to try on your next adventure:
Turning on a boogie board is as simple as this: lean left to turn left, and lean right to turn right. When leaning, apply pressure to the board with your elbow while gripping the board rails tightly for ultimate control.
2. Back Flip
Bodyboard-School explains how to do a backflip on your boogie board here:
3. Bottom Turn
Learning the bottom turn is a good foundation for more advanced tricks like the 360 or back flip. Learn more here:
4. Cut Back
The cut back is a technical and stylish bodyboarding trick. It’s a turn back to the curl of a wave, which helps the rider regulate their speed and reposition when necessary. Learn how to do this maneuver here:
5. 360 / Forward Spin
After mastering the cut back and the bottom turn, it’s time to try a full rotation! Bodyboard-School explains how to do a 360 here:
Image gliding on the ocean’s surface, the wind in your hair and sun on your face, effortlessly moving towards the sandy shore. Bodyboarding is a fun and rewarding ocean sport that both connects the rider to the marine world, and offers endless fun. If you’re wondering if this sport is right for you, it’s time to grab your gear and head to the beach as soon as possible to find out.
If this guide has helped get you one step closer to riding the waves, join the Seaside Planet Community by subscribing to our newsletter or starting a conversation in the comment section below!
Megan Jones leads the editorial staff of Seaside Planet. They are a multidisciplinary team of outdoor adventurers, water sports lovers, and passionate beach goers. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.