How to paddle for a wave on a bodyboard?


The secret of easy paddling is to develop a rhythm, either using your arms and legs alternately, or both arms and legs together.

When you’re paddling through flat water it’s a good opportunity to use your arms, and when you’re paddling through turbulent water use your legs.

When you need to get somewhere quickly use both your arms and legs.

Leg Paddling

Your hips should be off the back of the bard with the whole of your leg submerged under the water. Your hands should be holding the front corners of the board. Your board should be flat on the water so that you glide along instead of pushing water. This may mean applying a bit of pressure with your hands. Your back should be arched and your chest upright. Kick with the while of your legs keeping them completely immersed all the time. It’s the downward stroke that gives you the thrust. Concentrate on long drawn out ‘quality’ strokes rather that quick, short kicks.

Arm Paddling

Move your body forward on your board and keep your legs straight and together behind you. Your face should almost be in line with the nose of your board. Arch your back and keep your head up, watching where you’re going. Use the front crawl style stroke – alternate arms – reaching as far forward as you can and diving your arm as deep as possible, drawing each stroke as far back as you can each time. Keep your fingers slightly apart as the vortex created draws more water into your hand. It’s the last half of each stroke that has the most forward thrust so really dig in towards the end of each rhythm. Aim to keep your body still and let your arms do the work.

Combined Leg and Arm Paddling

For maximum propulsion (taking minimum effort!), position yourself just back from where you lie to arm paddle. Lower your head and chest to keep the nose of the board flat on the water and then paddle with your legs and arms. It’s tricky to balance at first but gets much easier with practice. This is the preferred technique of many pros to catch waves.


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