(All photos Tony Prince unless otherwise mentioned) There's a lot more to riding a bodyboard than simply laying down, kicking your fins and riding the wave.Outside of wave knowledge, which is covered in a separate blog, and having the correct equipment for your height, weight, location, etc. (See our Booger Picker form), body and hand positioning is perhaps the most important factor in progressing from simply "riding the wave to the beach" and advancing to the next level of bodyboarding.   I see many riders, particularly beginner and novice riders doing it wrong.Here are the specifics:

TIP: Don't over wax your board in the chest/stomach area! This will prevent you from making quick adjustments to your body position to perform various maneuvers. You want plenty of wax where your arms and hands go, but just a little in the chest/stomach areas of the board! 

Paddling out
Your body should be comfortably balanced on the board with your hips near the back/tail end of the board…far enough back so that when you kick, your feet are UNDERWATER, not slapping the surface.That will enable you to get maximum power out of your kick.Slapping the surface wastes energy, gives very little forward motion and annoys those in your general vicinity as you splash them in the face unknowingly.

Elbows should be ON the board, not hanging off the edges, back arched, and hands should be gripping the top corners of the board while kicking.

If you want to switch to an arm paddle, (I frequently alternate between arm paddling and kicking), move forward on the board so your feet/legs are slightly lifted out of the water and the board's nose is slightly submerged.






(One hand pushing down the nose, the other hand paddling, and the fins UNDER water for max power).

Catching Waves
Scoot back on the board so that the back edge of the board is even with your hip bones (having the correct size board is crucial for this). Make sure your feet/swimfins are submerged. Put one hand on the top center of the nose and push down to counter balance since the bulk of your weight is well back on the tail. With the other hand, dig in deep with a strong paddle while kicking vigorously underwater as the wave approaches.

Your one hand on the nose should be pushing down hard to keep the board flat so it planes as you gain speed as the wave moves under you.

Watch Vicki demonstrate how to push down on the nose, give a couple of good paddles with her other hand, and then scoot forward and assume her riding position.

Riding the wave:

Once you feel the wave pushing you, scoot forward on the board quickly and arch your back raising your chest and head up high.Now it's time to assume your riding position. That will be determined by which direction you're going- right or left.
Arm Positioning
Going left: Move your left hand to the TOP LEFT CORNER of the board and your left elbow and forearm should be resting on the deck along the left edge. This helps you to hold your edge on the wave face.


Going right: Move your right hand to the TOP RIGHT CORNER of the board and your right elbow and forearm should be resting on the deck along the right edge. This helps you to hold your edge on the wave face.


(Perfect arm and hand position makes for easy directional changes.  Note Vicki's inside arm along the left edge of her board with forearm and elbow down for edge control.  Outside right hand is 1/3 of the way down the right edge of the board with elbow up for the "cantilever" effect.  Pic:  Tom Prince) I see many riders put their lead hand in the top center of the nose and even on the wrong corner. Don't do this!It impacts your ability to make quick directional changes.

Your right hand should be about 1/3 of the way down the right rail of the board with your elbow raised off the board acting as sort of a cantilever that enables you to push your left hand up and down to control the steering of the board.Put pressure on that outside rail with your right hand and you'll turn down the wave.Pull up with that hand and you'll turn up the wave. 

Body Positioning
(Adam's body position is ideal for "trimming".  Note his arched back, high shoulder and head position and forward position on the board)
Your body should be positioned on the left side of the board for the bottom turn and trimming along the wave, but if you want to do a cutback, you'll want to slide your body quickly to the right side of the board and scoot back a little, while maintaining your hand positions, and you'll find the board turning back toward the wave.Quickly shift your weight again to the left side of the board and scoot back up all in one motion to regain your direction and speed across the wave face. For maximum speed, you want to be as far forward as you can be on the board without losing your edge or nose diving. For control, you'll scoot back a little, so you will be moving around on the board frequently depending on what you're doing on the wave.For steep, hollow barrels, position yourself further back and further over on the rail leaning into the wave face so you don't sideslip. 

(Jay slides a bit further back on the board to maintain control in the tube of this steep, hollow wave)

(Note Gianna's correct hand/body position for the cutback allows for good control going left)


Adapt your riding using the tips above and you'll see a rapid increase in your skill level, particularly with doing new maneuvers and gaining more speed!