Tom Morey invented the bodyboard (known as the “boogie board”) in 1971. The board was shorter than a surfboard and designed to be ridden in a prone position. Within a decade, bodyboards were a relatively common sight on beaches worldwide and as the sport grew, the tricks became more diverse, complicated, and spectacular.
Bodyboarding tricks vary from the simple to the complicated. Some can be completed with a basic level of experience and skill; others require much more intricate maneuvers that may take weeks or months to learn.
Beginner Bodyboarding Tricks
The following basic maneuvers are a must for all bodyboarders. These are the first tricks that you should learn and they are ones that will prepare you for the toughest challenges that bodyboarders face.
How To Bottom Turn On A Bodyboard
Performing a bottom turn on a boogie board is a little different from turning on a surfboard.
After taking off early, ride down at approximately 45 degrees without touching the water with your elbow or shoulder.
When you reach the bottom, lean your shoulder into the wave and the rail will cut through the surface. From there, just arch your back to gain speed, find your line, and move into the next maneuver.
How To Do A Cutback On A Bodyboard
A cutback is when you cut back to the curling wave as a way of regulating your speed or to prepare for a throwing lip.
To perform a cutback, find a wave without a barrel or a lip. Turn until you are just underneath the top of the wave and shift your weight to the outside rail by pushing your hand on the rail in the direction you want to turn.
Lift the opposite corner of the nose and turn while watching the inside of the wave. Ride to the point where you want the turn to stop and then shift to the other side to get back into the curl of the wave.
How To Duck Dive On A Bodyboard
Duck diving is one of the best bodyboarding tricks to learn as a beginner as it will prepare you for more advanced maneuvers.
- Move at speed toward the wave.
- When you are just a few feet from the wave, shift your weight forward.
- Slide your hands a foot away from the nose and grip the rails tightly.
- Shove the nose under the water.
- Place one knee on the tail of the board and push it underwater as far as it will go.
- Under the water, paddle as quickly as you can while the wave breaks overhead.
- Flatten yourself against the bodyboard.
- Look up and move back to the surface of the water.
How To Reverse Spin On A Bodyboard
The reverse spin or “bodyboard reverse” can look impressive, but it can also be tricky and is more suited to intermediate riders.
Following a bottom turn, build up speed and go to the top of the wave. Release the rails at the back of the board, lean forward, and arc the board around to turn back where you came from.
In many ways, the reverse is like a cutback, but you’re not applying weight to the rails and there are variations in the technique.
How To Forward Spin On A Bodyboard
You need to find the optimal speed to perform a 360 forward spin. This is something you will perfect in time, but you can speed up if you’re going too slow or create some drag if you’re moving too fast.
Once you have the right speed, keep a low center of gravity by lifting your legs out of the water. Move your weight to the inside rail, throw your head over your shoulder, and face the direction in which you will be spinning.
At this point, the board should start spinning. Cross your legs, arch your back, and keep your weight centered on the board.
Return to the standard position, straighten your back, lower your legs, and get those fins back in the water.
Advanced Bodyboarding Tricks
Once you have learned the basic maneuvers mentioned above, it’s time to move on to more advanced tricks. These may require a lot of practice, but if you persist and keep going, you’ll be a pro before you know it!
How To Backflip On A Bodyboard
The backflip is one of the best bodyboarding tricks, and one that also impresses in countless other board sports and watersports. It’s an advanced trick, and it will take a lot of time to master, but it’s worth it in the end.
- Find a solid wave and gain speed.
- Look for a near-vertical section of the wave.
- Hit the lip, launch, and pull your head back slightly.
- Throw your body weight into the front of the wave and arch your back.
- Cross your legs and pull your head back.
- Hold tightly onto the board and push it nose-first into the water.
- Center your weight and look where you want to go.
- Spin, stabilize, and ride away from the wave.
How To Drop Knee On A Bodyboard
Drop knee riding is when you ride on a bodyboard with one knee dropped behind you and the other at a 90-degree angle in front of you. Typically, your drop knee will be your dominant leg.
You can perform a variety of tricks with drop knee riding but it’s something that you should save for when you have already mastered prone riding and are looking for a new challenge.
How To El Rollo On A Bodyboard
El rollo or “the roll” was invented by a professional bodyboarder named Pat Caldwell. He initially wanted to call the trick the “3-dimension 360”, but a fellow boarder suggested “el rollo” and it stuck.
The el rollo is when the boarder reaches the lip of the wave, completes a full rotation, and then lands back in the wave face.
It’s one of the most basic tricks in any bodyboarder’s handbook and is completed as follows:
- Aim to bottom turn and then hit the lip as it pitches.
- Arch your head and throw it over your shoulder while also throwing your board over your shoulder.
- The motion should be fast and smooth.
- Hold on tight to your board and prepare for a heavy landing.
How To Invert On A Bodyboard
The invert is more of an intermediate-level trick, but it’s one that’s definitely beyond the skillset of a beginner.
To perform an invert, simply race up the wave face and look for a close out. Hit the lip, launch with the back of the board toward the flats, and then turn to land.
How To Slow Down On A Bodyboard
Bodyboarding isn’t just about gaining as much speed as you can. All good bodyboarders must learn how to slow down, a skill that is also known as stalling.
You can use your hands and legs to create drag and slow down as you’re riding the waves. To use your legs, simply spread them, dig the fins into the wave, and wait for the water to catch the inside rail and create the drag.
Alternatively, use your inside hand or lift the nose of the board so that the tail digs into the water and provides some resistance.
How To Ride The Barrel On A Bodyboard
One of the best experiences as a bodyboarder is when you’re riding a tubing wave and are surrounded by walls of water.
To ride the barrel, you first need to find the perfect wave. Keep an eye on the waves and watch how they are breaking to determine which spots are best.
For the actual ride, try to stay high so that the lip of the wave doesn’t break over you. Focus on the exit as you are riding and watch your speed.
It’s something that you have to practice to truly master. However, if you’re looking for some tips on riding the perfect barrel, check out some videos from the master, Mike Stewart.
When it comes to boogie boarding and barrel riding, there are few better boarders.
FAQs About Bodyboarding Tricks
If you’re keen to learn more about boogie board tricks and want to improve your ability on the waves, check out the following FAQs.
How Can I Do a Barrel Roll on a Bodyboard?
The barrel roll is just another name for the el rollo, which you can learn about above. It’s a fundamental trick that every intermediate and expert bodyboarder should have in their arsenal. It might be tricky to learn if you are a complete novice, but it’s one of the bodyboard tricks that you can build your way toward.
How Do You Go Faster on a Bodyboard?
To go faster on a boogie board, you must minimize drag. That means keeping your elbows tucked in, moving your leading hand to the front corner, and keeping your head pointed in the direction that you’re heading. These minor adjustments can make a big difference and will help you to gain speed in and out of the waves.
Is Bodyboarding Cool?
This is a very common question, and it really shouldn’t be. If you like the look of bodyboarding, do it! If it’s not really your thing, then try something else. It doesn’t matter if other people think it’s cool or not. What matters is that you enjoy it and can practice it enough to perfect those advanced tricks and master those waves.
What’s more, just like every other sport and activity, it’s entirely subjective and there are many variables. Your 20-year-old friend who’s heavily into extreme sports might think it’s cool, but your 70-year-old traditionalist uncle might see it as a pointless waste of time.
As for surfers, some will argue that it’s cool, others will tell you to stand up and get a bigger board.
How Do I Get Better at Bodyboarding?
The best way to improve your skills and learn those advanced tricks is to keep returning to the water and keep practicing. As long as you’re riding waves and pushing yourself to learn, you’ll improve.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can simply hop on a board and let the waves loll you back and forward for 10 minutes before calling it a day. You don’t learn guitar by randomly strumming and pretending you’re a rock star. You don’t learn a language by mumbling in a semi-coherent accent and making up words. You have to actually try and keep pushing yourself.
Every time you wipe out, get back on the board and head for the next wave. If you’re frustrated because it’s not working, then take a break, check out some YouTube videos or trick tutorials, and try again.