How to Duck Dive

In order to avoid getting smashed by the waves an advanced technique to learn is how to duck dive. The duck dive is a way to get under the waves easily and efficiently- but it’s not easy to begin with. As stated by Nick Carroll from, it is a natural, fluid motion that mimics the way we get under waves when swimming.

“To best understand a duckdive, you should go for a swim in the ocean. No board, nothing. Just swim out toward a broken wave and dive under it. While you're doing this, think about what you're doing. First you go down, right? Then as the foam passes overhead, you're kinda parallel to the surface. Then once the foam has passed, you tilt up, back to the surface. Yeah? It's a very natural movement, led from the front: arms, head and shoulders guide the way.

How to Duck Dive


So I'm essentially going to explain how to imitate that motion on your surfboard:

Paddle towards the wave

-Take a big breath

- As you gain momentum and the wave is going to pass over you, you are going to push your board deep under the wave – as the buoyancy of the board will allow you to easily resurface. To be able to do this, however will require you knowing your board and being able to understand your ‘sweet spots’ on the board. This will take practice – you need to be able to get a feel for the board and figure out where feels comfortable. But as basic advice, grab the rails of the board and with straight arms push down wards – sinking the board nose first under the wave.

-To create more force and get deep under the wave, use your knee or back foot to push down on the tail of the board.

When you’re deep under and can feel the wave pass over you, bring your board in towards your chest and the buoyancy of the board will allow you to pop back up to the surface. As simple as it may seem in writing, duck diving is something that requires practice to make perfect – flat-water practice is ideal to begin with, as it allows you to get a feel for the board and understand where feels comfortable. As you advance, try with small surf and work your way up.

Do not go out in big surf if you haven’t perfected your duck dive technique – throwing your board is never ideal and can get you, or others in serious strife.    

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