Duckdiving 101: How to Duckdive


Two Billabong girls execute perfect duckdives

Duckdiving tends to be a difficult thing to learn for many surfers. I think the hardest thing is learning to time it right, although there are a few other steps where people often have trouble.

Hereís how you do it:

  • As a wave approaches, take a few hard paddles directly at the wave to build speed.When the wave is a few feet away, grab the rails at your chest and push down on the front of the board. Get the board as deep as you can. Once itís as deep as it will go, submerge your body after it.
  • Right after you begin to follow your board underwater and just as the wave is about to pass over you, push down on the tail of the board with your knee or foot to get the board fully underwater as far as it will go. You can pull yourself toward the board to get your body under, but donít pull so hard that you cause the board to surface too quickly.
  • Your other leg will bend up behind you like a scorpion. The last thing you should see when a surfer duckdives is his or her foot disappearing into the sea. Itís a funny thing to watch, but very graceful when done right.
  • As the wave passes over you, pull up on the nose of the board and allow yourself to float up to the surface. If youíre especially deep, a frog kick can propel you back up.

The motions of the duckdive should be smooth as all the moves flow into each other. Timing is a huge part of a successful duckdive, and this is where experience will be your friend. Only practicing will help you acquire the subconscious ďfeelĒ that will let you know when precisely you should begin your dive. For instance, you want to start your duckdive early enough so that you have time to fully submerge the board, but not so early that you float back up before the wave gets to you.

I learned to duckdive my bodyboard before I even owned a surfboard, and this helped a lot with learning some wave timing and the motions of a duckdive. Itís easier to duck a bodyboard because itís a lot smaller than a surfboard. If you have access to a bodyboard I highly recommend taking it out for a few duckdives just to get comfortable with the motions and the act of diving under a wave with a board.


  • Make sure to grip your board HARD. Powerful waves have a knack of causing you to lose your hold on the board, sending it flying out from behind you as the turbulence catches it.
  • The deeper the duckdive, the better.
  • Using your foot to push the tail under will save your board from pressure dings.
  • Harness the circular motion of the wave and try to work with it. If you do it right, a duckdive can seem almost effortless since the flow of water will help you surface on the other side.

Fact: Yes, the duckdive is called a duckdive because thatís how water birds get under waves. Itís fun to watch a duck or other bird nonchalantly paddling around in the ocean, diving under waves that break outside of him.


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