Learn How To Duck Dive53 comments
Duck diving is an essential part of being a competent surfer. Duck diving is the way that a surfer dives under an oncoming wave as he or she paddles out to the lineup. Ducking under the wave ensures that all the progress made by paddling out is not lost by being washed backwards by the wave. The bigger the waves or the more frequent the waves are, the more important it becomes to be skilled at duck diving. This is something you are really going to have to get wired in your brain if you want to surf in crowds.
( Note: You cannot duck dive a longboard. You'll need the turtle roll technique)
Daddy, why do they call it a duck dive?
The Art of Duck Diving
Believe it; duckdiving is an art, one that takes an awful lot of practice. For this lesson, it's a good idea that you practice on a day when only small waves are prevalent and build up to larger waves as you develop your hidden duck diving talent. The great thing about practicing duck diving is that you can do it in any surf conditions, even if it is totally flat. The thing to aim for is to get both you and your surfboard as far beneath the oncoming waves as possible, to recover quickly when you have passed under the wave, and then to return to paddling out.
The movie "Step into Liquid" by Dana Brown has an great example of a duck dive with an underwater view if you need a video example.
Paddling Out Through the Waves
OK, so you have started paddling out, and a wave that you need to duck dive is approaching. Time for a quick quiz: Do you (a) panic and head back to the beach, (b) put your snorkel and mask on and prepare to head for the bottom, or (c) go with the instructions that follow this ridiculous quiz?
If you answered "c", you would be correct, although depending on how big the wave was, "a" could be a possibility. The first thing you need to do to perform the duck dive maneuver is make sure you are really paddling into the wave; the more forward momentum you have the better. Ok, now on to the actual duck dive...
- Place both hands on the rails out in front of you and push downwards, sinking the nose of your board under the water.
- Keep your arms straight and lean forward to help get more of the board under the water.
- Make sure you take a deep breath just before the wave breaks over you, submerging most of your board.
- Lay out flat on your board as the wave starts to go over you, creating as little resistance as possible your knee or back foot (for extra deep dives) should be putting pressure on the back of the surfboard, leveling it out under the water. (See the photo below for an underwater view.)
- Angle your board back up to the surface as the wave passes over. If you've duck dived correctly, you should be in a position to immediately start paddling again. The quicker you can resume paddling out, the quicker that you'll return to the lineup and the less energy you'll expend.
Note the back foot used to stabilize
and submerge the board
So that's basically it, but it takes a lot of practice to get right. You will feel the difference between a good and a bad duck dive. If you get it right, you'll pass smoothly through the wave; get it wrong any you'll be pulled back towards the beach, lose your board, and have to do it all over again.
As with surfing in general, it's not good form to let go of your board when faced with breaking waves; it may injure other water users. Also remember that you have to keep clear of surfers who are riding in on waves. It's your responsibility to keep out of the way, even if it means paddling into a wall of whitewater.
If the crash test dummy above can duck dive then so can you. It might take some practice, but it's the best way to get back out to the lineup. Learning to duck dive is a priority.
(He's consistent - I'll give him that.)
Righto, it's on with the lessons. Next up is how to stand on a surfboard. (It's a must for all surfer wannabies.)
on May 3, 2011
|Thx for the advice. Really helpful|
on May 9, 2011
|Really handy advice! |
All too often I force myself and my board over the waves. An effort that sometimes gets me nowhere as the wave cancels all my paddling effort.
on May 15, 2011
|ive been surfing since i was 6 and still didnt know how to duckdive, thanks!|
on Jun 8, 2011
|ive been surfing since 5 and this will go realy good with past advice|
on Jun 21, 2011
|Awesome. Thanks! I am still learning how to surf and the big waves freak me out! This will help me get passed them!|
on Jun 26, 2011
|this helped a lot i started body boarding not long ago and got passed smoothly but i did it wrong once and that took the confidence away from me but this will help i will practice in a swimming pool.|
on Jul 10, 2011
on Jul 10, 2011
|wow! great advice this will really help me for sure!!!|
on Jul 22, 2011
on Aug 4, 2011
|Tank you, brah!|
on Aug 9, 2011
on Aug 9, 2011
|What length is considered a long board|
on Aug 10, 2011
|Thanks so much for the awesome advice! :)|
on Aug 25, 2011
|Wow...great advice...I will try this next time so I won't be so tired paddling out and getting washed back in.|
on Aug 31, 2011
|Yeah thanks. I recently starting surfing again after a number of years of dormancy. This helps out quite a bit because I have a really short-board and ocean beach sf has been beating me up..This is a ton of help.|
on Sep 11, 2011
|I am 62 and have only recently started surfing. Does anybody think this is too old?|
on Sep 15, 2011
|Ive been surfing a long time & for the past 2 weeks been surfing hurricane swell here in Fl. I have never learned to duck dive, but im going to start practicing. When im faced with a giant wave after it's already broken, I "bail", which means I time it, get a good breath, & go to the bottom. The problem with this is u have to collect your board by pulling on the leash before u can resume paddling out. There is so much beach around that we dont surf in crowds, but duck diving would be much more efficent.|
on Oct 6, 2011
|Thanks for the advice. That is an awesome picture with the two surfers at different stages of the dive, the slope of the wave above and the good form depicted. Novices as myself appreciate the safety advice and etiquette lessons taught here and elsewhere.|
on Oct 7, 2011
|Scooby, it's never too late to start to learn anything. Good on ya!|
| Guest |
on Oct 15, 2011
|ok kindove confused and kindove not so i am getting that duckdiving is a little dificult but how can you tell if you need to do it?|
on Oct 20, 2011
|good rule of thumb is that if you don't think you'll be able to make it over the set, just dive. If it looks peaky especially.|
on Nov 12, 2011
|im new at surfing and i am 12 yrs old. i know im starting a little late but can someone reccomend any specific board for me? ( i do not want a long board for sure and i know short boards are for experts/ people with experience).|
on Nov 13, 2011
|hey thanks for the advice dude, really helpful. i am 12 years old and started surfing when i was 11 so like anonymous i was wondering what board i should have, iam 5ft 5in btw thanks to anyone that can help me XD|
on Nov 28, 2011
|Why would you guys think that your 12 and your too old to surf? I'm 21 and am only starting out. Does that make me way too old?|
on Nov 28, 2011
|Think you are too old to start surfing?|
on Dec 26, 2011
|I got a new board I'm 11 5-7. (I'm tall). And I'm learning how to duck dive. Thanks helpful|
on Dec 29, 2011
|been surfing for 40 years & still can't duck dive properly. thanks for the tips.|
|Frustrated Surfer Wana Be|
on Feb 3, 2012
|good advice! ive been practiciing the duck dive for over a year and still learning. its essential though. i cant even sum up how frustrating it is to paddle and get pulled back, paddle and get pulled back......etc. one day ill be duck diving the big boys, chaaa.|
on Mar 8, 2012
|But what happens when the wave lands on his head? will he still make it?|
on Mar 14, 2012
|i like the video diagram|
on Mar 20, 2012
|Thank you very much. helpfull information for future sessions!|
on Apr 28, 2012
|I'm currently 5 years old and i started to surf when i was 2. Am i too old?|
on Apr 28, 2012
|The kids of today!|
on Apr 30, 2012
on May 20, 2012
|I'm 15 and just got my first surf board, im pretty terrible but i love it! |
Your website is so helpful, thankyou!
on May 31, 2012
|I'm 11 and a girl and this helps so much, now I can get out there with the big waves!!! Thanks|
on Jun 21, 2012
|everytime i try to duckdive i always struggle on getting the board under the wave so i awkwardly go underwater at the top of the wave. I think i may be a little weak. :/|
on Jun 29, 2012
|I have to hold my nose. Period. How can I duck dive like that?|
on Jul 3, 2012
|I'm about to go out surfing, i'll try this, hopefully it will work. luv the animation|
on Jul 21, 2012
|Thanks for the help I just started to surf on my board.i can get up on my board and surf.but When a waves comes I get caught in it so I have trying to duck dive:)|
on Aug 23, 2012
|is a 6'0 too long to duck dive for me- im 5'0 tall 13 years old and about 90 lbs?|
on Sep 14, 2012
|You mad bro?|
on Oct 18, 2012
|Great info! I started surfing at 30 but never learned to duck dive. Tried a couple of times, now I have the incentive to commit to it.|
on Oct 27, 2012
|Ugh i need to get fatter lol.|
RE: im 62 and i just started surfing am i too old? : no bro just start on the little waves and if u can handle bigger waves go for it!
on Nov 11, 2012
|Work for as a coach at a surf school in Durban South Africa, and recommend my beginner students to look at this web page. Shot thanks|
on Nov 12, 2012
|@bronwyn: That's great to hear. Perhaps we can get your surf school listed on our surfing in south africapages. Drop me your details.|
on Dec 31, 2012
|I taught myself how to duck dive this summer. I would say if you are struggling to push the board under the water before the wave arrives your board is too big to duck dive. Consider the turtle roll instead. Also the animation is terrible from my standpoint, I would recommend lifting your leg right as wave is about to go over you leaving a slight knee into the board with the other leg as well. The leg you lift is very important because it will keep you straight like feathers on an arrow. Also paddle speed for the approach is very important. Goodluck. Commit to getting duck diving down. It is essential to getting behind the break.|
on Dec 31, 2012
|It is also important to note. Take time to think about your method. If you do not have a plan of attack how will you know what you did differently when you are successful. Go though the steps in your mind one at a time. You can even practice in your head on shore. Imagine a large waves coming in so you get a sense of urgency and go though the motions in your head.|
|Bethany Hamilton Wannabe|
on Jan 2, 2013
|im 12 and recently started surfing and bodyboarding. This was very helpful, but does anyone know if you can do the duck dive with a slick lizard or a bodyboard??? please help!!!! Thanx!!!!!!!!!!!!!|
on Feb 21, 2013
|I wanted to be like bethany hamilton but when u think of it ,she had alot of pain and the loss of her arm|
on Feb 21, 2013
|hi im 10 and i love surfing,i want to be like kelly slater,brett simpson,joel parkinson!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!|
on Apr 19, 2013
|How do you duck dive a 9ft longboard. Please help thanks.|
on Apr 23, 2013
You'll need to learn how to do a turtle roll - see the link at the end of the first paragraph at the top.