Duckdiving; What is it and How to Do it
Below are some duckdive basics, and a reminder to every surfer that successful maneuvers happen when you truly relax. As my friend, pro surfer Nancy Emerson says, learning to relax is the key to successful surfing and I totally agree.
Duckdiving Techniques & Tips
What exactly is a duckdive?? I think the best way to understand a duckdive is by going for a swim in the ocean. Go for it, just you and the breaking waves, no board, nothing else. Swim out and dive under a wave, be mindful of what you are doing and how.
Hopefully it goes something like this, you start by taking a nice big breath then pointing your head and arms down and dive down underneath the wave. As the foamy white water rolls overhead, you stay generally parallel to the surface. Once the white water rolls past, you angle back up to the surface. It is a natural movement, instinctually led from the front: arms, head and shoulders guide your way to the top.
Amazing and not all that complicated. A duckdive is really just an ordinary swimmer’s dive, except you take your favorite surfboard with you under the waves. Speaking of boards, an essential ingredient to being able to duckdive is board familiarity. You need to know how deep your board sinks, the boards balance or lack of underneath the ocean, and ways to get it underwater quicker.
A neat way to do this is start by experiment and practice in tranquil ocean water. Paddle hard, grip your board strong/hard, dive down, and push to resurface. Repeat.
Timing is important and so is fast pace; in order to duckdive effectively you need to be quick and have forward momentum, this means strong and steady paddling until the last moment. After a while, you can paddle out to breaking waves and begin to practice your technique and being able to relax.
Basic duckdiving formula : Paddle toward the waves, steady, strong and fast. Before the wave hits, allow time to push the board underwater, nose down and forcefully forward. Use both hands on the rail a few feet back from the nose, and brace a knee on the deck, wherever knee naturally works. This will not work just pushing down the nose; if the tail is sticking up, it can drag you backwards.
As the wave passes overhead, bring your upper body weight back, letting the nose rise. The downward pressure of the wave energy by now is pushing on the tail, and should help this all to happen naturally. As you burst forth back to the surface, the natural buoyancy of your board will pop up. You want to start paddling straight away, you need momentum, there may be more waves.
Duckdiving is a confident and aggressive surf move. Approach it with assurance and power; paddle strong and quick, as in you really mean it.. Beginner surfers especially tend to stop paddling too early. This leaves you without momentum and exposed to the pounding of the waves breaking energy, not much fun and in bigger surf, dangerous.
Afraid? Me too some days. I believe in fear, I hug it and invite it to stay. It is clean, honest and what makes us all so dang brave and courageous. Fear is real and a gargantuan motivator in my life.
More importantly it reminds me of what I think is so important in surfing, No Hesitation!!!
Practice, get tired then get better, make that commitment, no hesitate, charge, smile, remember to be grateful and kind and you always be the most successful and happiest surfer in the lineup!
There are numerous sources that helped with their surf-duckdiving expertise for this article..Mahalo Surfline, Kidzworld, true Surfer Girl-Sanoe Lake, Ocean Girl Project surf girls and mermaids and ducking expert Nick Carroll. Any misfires and/or bad editing is mine! We are honored and grateful to share your experience and knowledge w/ young surfer girls and people everywhere!
Sea ya under the sea~! Colleen