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A Beginner’s Guide To Bodyboards and Bodyboarding

When you want to learn how to ride waves, you have to choose between bodyboarding or surfing. Some people choose to go for both although this means they have to spend a bit more on gear.

One of the main attractions of bodyboarding is the ease of learning. You can learn the basics and start having fun in no time. Surfing isn’t as easy as you need lots of practice although the ease of learning will vary among individuals.

So, you decided to learn how to bodyguard and need the single most important gear for the sport – a bodyboard. There are several bodyboards available on the market. However, not all the bodyboards out there are a great choice for you.

The aim of this page is to help bodyboarding enthusiasts make a better choice when trying to get a new bodyboard. The secret to getting a quality bodyboard, which is the perfect fit, is also explained. Many have fallen victim to purchasing expensive, yet poorly produced boards that turn out to be a waste of good money. This article is meant to put a stop to that. Enjoy!


In choosing a bodyboard to buy, there are certain important details that you need to pay attention to. You shouldn’t just enter the market to buy just any bodyboard available without having the necessary information regarding what a good bodyboard is.

Some of the important details you need to know to assist you in procuring a quality bodyboard that will serve you well for a long time, not for just a short period.

What is Considered a Bodyboard?

Let’s first talk about the sport, bodyboarding. It is a water sport that involves surfers being carried by breaking waves as they lie, sit or kneel on the bodyboard.

Bodyboarding is not the same as surfing. Also, the gear, “bodyboard” adopted for this sport is different from a surfboard, even though many often make the mistake of thinking they are the same. A bodyboard is a short rectangular board usually designed using foamie material, which one lies or sits on when bodyboarding.

There are unique features specific to bodyboards. They are usually shorter than surfboards, between 3 to 4 feet in length. For the width, we have them between the ranges of 16 to 38 inches. Boards used for bodyboarding are usually blunt and smooth for safety reasons since they are to be lied upon. They are sometimes called boogie boards.

Bodyboarding vs. Surfing

The origin of surfing and bodyboarding can be traced to Hawaii in the US. Little wonder why lots of individuals make the mistake of thinking these two boards are synonymous. However, that is not the case, as there are distinct differences between the two sports as well as the boards used.

We are not discussing the better of the two sports. We would not be joining the already existing heated arguments among sports enthusiasts as to which is the better. One thing, is for sure both sports are already widely accepted all over the world. Here are some of the key differences between the two sports.

  • Bodyboards are cheaper to construct. For one, waxing the board is not necessary
  • Surfing permits better riding of larger waves, those difficult to catch when bodyboarding. Surfers believe there is more fun in surfing.
  • Bodyboarding is a sport that can be easily practiced by individuals of different age groups. Children, especially, prefer bodyboarding.
  • Bodyboards are lighter, which makes them a better option when going on a far outdoor adventure. One person can easily carry a bodyboard, they are shorter and lighter. With surfboards, you’d probably need the assistance of another to carry it even if it’s just from your car trunk to the water.

In all, both sports are great and there is a close relationship between them. After all, most people, especially kids and teens planning to learn surfing often start with bodyboarding. I enjoy practicing both sports, and I don’t even think one is superior to the other. There are times you just feel like bodyboarding is what you need. At times, like that, you probably feel it’s the greatest sport ever and at other times you think it’s surfing. I’d advise you to just enjoy both sports.

Bodyboarding Riding Styles

Instead of just dashing into the ocean with the mindset of figuring things out in the water. It is best to learn a couple of bodyboarding styles. This can be done by watching as many tutorial videos as possible via YouTube. There are three major bodyboarding riding styles, a description of these styles would be highlighted below.


It is also referred to as riding prone. It is the traditional form of bodyboarding and still the most common form used by bodyboarding enthusiasts. As the name suggests, it involves lying on their stomach as they ride through the waves.

For those new to the sport, this is the recommended riding style. Navigating through the waves as well as maneuvering is a lot easier when riding in the prone position. It helps beginners gain the needed experience. They get into the deep parts of the waves where it curls over riders in a tubelike manner.

Drop Knee Boarding

This riding style is not as common as the prone position. It gives riders a blend of surfing and bodyboarding experiences. This position is of course not ideal for use for beginners. It is a little difficult to maintain balance and control when riding in this position. However, a master of this style would maneuver through the water better than those riding the prone style.

Riding using this position involves placing one foot on the nose of the board and kneeling with the other foot. One foot does the work while the other is basically resting as you ride through the waves. The drop knee position allows you to build up more speed.

Stand-up Riding

Based on popularity, this is the least popular riding style for bodyboarding. After all, the main purpose of bodyboarding is to ride through the waves without having to stand. It involves standing erect as riders cruise through the waves. It is the least ideal for beginners and kids, as it requires experience.

How to Choose a Bodyboard?

In selecting the right bodyboard here are the important features to look out for. If you want a perfect fit for you, follow as we carefully thrash out the necessary details.


Bodyboards come in different sizes, so you want a board that fits perfectly. Hence, your body size and structure is the main factor to consider when selecting a bodyboard size. Since you’d probably be lying on it, you need a board that can hold your weight in the water.

A big bodyboard means less control, and a smaller one means less buoyancy. Ultimately, you want balance. You can see that the sizing of your bodyboard is very important. You can easily ask the salesperson if your bodyboard is good enough for your size.

One way to know if a bodyboard is your size is to try holding it under your arm when carrying it. If you can easily reach for the bottom rail, then it is a good fit for you. If you can curl your fingers around the board when carrying it with no space under your armpit, then the board is a perfect fit for you.


The material used in the construction of your bodyboard is perhaps the most important factor that determines its durability. There are usually lots of complaints when boards get broken after using them only a couple of times. Hence, the need to get a bodyboard built out of top-quality materials.

The material adopted in the construction of bodyboards is the major determinant for how long you’d use your board, as well as your experience in the water. You need a material that is well buoyant in water with a strong grip for easy maneuver in the water.

Most bodyboard constructors stick with one of the following materials: Expanded polystyrene, Polypropylene, and Polyethylene. Some of them even mix these materials. Such as an EPS core and a PE bottom. Any of the three materials listed are great options for your bodyboards.


For a boogie board to be durable, there should be a fine blend of rigidity and flexibility. Stringers help to give this balance to your bodyboard. They help give strength to the board and help ensure that you can use them for a long long time

Bodyboards - Guide


In the design for bodyboards, some critical features need to be looked into. An overview of some of these features is discussed below.

Tails and Tail Shape

The design of the tail – the rear end of your bodyboards, is one criterion that shouldn’t be overlooked. The tail affects the overall activity of your bodyboard in the water.

Traditionally, the crescent tail shape is often used. It is still the commonest shape for bodyboards. The crescent shape gives a broad tail which provides riders with greater stability and speed.

In newly designed bodyboards, there is a new shape being used for the tail. The bat shape is now being used. It gives riders better control and permits showboating when riding. Also, it might be a great choice for bulkier riders. However, it is not advised to be used by inexperienced riders.


The rails are the bodyboard edges, especially those of the lower section. The edges of the upper parts of the board are called ‘chines’

The rails of bodyboards often come in two forms. the 50:50 and the 60:40. I wouldn’t like to bore you with the details. Let me go straight to the point, the 60:40 rail design offers better control and maneuverability. The 50:50 design on the other hand offers great speed but less control. Depending on your expertise, you are free to make your choice on the rail type you want for your bodyboard.


As the name suggests, the wide point is the widest point on the bodyboard. The nearer/farther the wide point is to the nose or front of the board is a great determinant for maneuverability and stability of the bodyboard.

The closer it is to the front, the greater the stability, which makes the rider able to maneuver better in the water. Wide boards are more buoyant and float better in water, though controlling them might be a task. This is why bodyboard constructors over the years have gone for control, thereby producing slimmer boards.


There are two thickness variants for bodyboards: the 55mm and the 51mm. I prefer the thinner boards as they are more buoyant, though slower. It is easier to control them. Thicker boards are just the opposite, you get speed but run a risk of losing control. They are better for small wave conditions.

As a result, beginners are advised to go for thinner boards. Control and easy maneuvering in water should be the priority. Thicker boards are for the experts.


The upward curve of the board is what we refer to as the rocker. Here, we look at it in the form of angles. Bodyboards with a large rocker – that is the upward angle- tend to be slow, though with great maneuverability. Those with less rocker are faster.

Again, I always advise people to go for what gives them more control. Even though most times, it means less speed. Except you are a pro and are sure of your bodyboarding skills. Go for what gives you more stability and control in the water.

Final Thoughts

Bodyboarding is a great sport, of which the bodyboard is its number 1 gear. Hence to practice this sport effectively you need a top-level bodyboard. This article is just what you need in sorting out the dilemma of what a top-quality bodyboard is.

We discussed the important features to look out for when trying to buy yours. With this guide, if followed carefully, you are sure to acquire a top-notch bodyboard and can then go on having a smooth jolly ride in the ocean.

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