A duck dive helps you push your shortboard under the wave so that you don’t have to fight the waves as they pass.
Knowing how to duck dive will make your efforts to paddle out and get to the bigger waves less tiring and frustrating.
What Is Duck Diving in Surfing?
A duck dive in surfing is a move in which the surfer pushes the board below the water and moves underneath the wave, with the board.
Duck diving is less painful than taking a wave to the face, but it requires a considerable amount of practice in order to perfect this skill.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes some time for you to master it yourself!
In order to duck dive, you should be able to maintain a solid grasp on the sides of your board, take a big, deep breath and understand how to time your dive and achieve the right speed when you go under the whitewash.
Be sure to remember to put some wax on the sides of your board when you wax your board.
The wax will make it easier to grip the rails as you push under the wave.
Steps for Duck Diving on a Surfboard
There are four key steps to duck diving on a shortboard when surfing.
Keep in mind that it is important to maintain your grip on the surfboard as you go under the water.
Follow these steps to do a duck dive:
- When you see a wave while paddling that you need to push under, paddle faster. The faster you paddle, the more momentum you will have to dive under the wave.
- At the last second before the wave hits you, dive under the water by sinking the nose of your board under the water. You will need to push hard with both of your hands on the board’s rails in order to do this.
- Lean forward with your arms straight, pushing yourself down and into the water.
- After the wave passes over you, put your feet on the tail of the surfboard. This pushes the nose of the board up. The upward angle of the board and the buoyancy of the foam will bring you back up to the surface of the water. Keep paddling until you need to do another duck dive or until you reach the lineup.
Is It Possible to Avoid Duck Diving When Surfing?
Although you can’t completely avoid duck diving while surfing, if you have a longboard, turtle rolling may be an option.
Turtle rolling requires a longboard that measures about 9 feet or longer.
You can’t duck dive with a longboard because the buoyancy of the foam makes it impossible to dive under waves.
A “turtle roll” refers to getting past the breaking waves without tossing your surfboard. It works with a longboard because the long boards are so buoyant.
To do a turtle roll, follow these steps:
- Line up your board perpendicular to the whitewash.
- Stop paddling once you see a big wave.
- Grab the board’s rails, bend your elbows and give the board’s nose a little push down.
- Push your trunk up with one knee.
- Take a big, deep breath when the wave approaches.
- Flip the board under the water.
- Wait for the wave to pass.
- Flip the board back over and resume paddling.
Turtle rolling should be the second lesson that you learn in surfing. It is the natural follow-up to learning how to duckdive and works better for bigger boards with a lot of foam.
Both duck diving and turtle rolling are essential moves for getting through the waves.
These maneuvers take some practice.
After you have perfected your duck dive and are looking for your next challenge, take on the turtle roll.
Both moves are key to working around crowds and challenging conditions when you are learning to surf.
Duck Diving Tips & FAQs
How deep should you duck dive?
The whole idea of duck diving is to allow the energy of the broken wave to move over you so you feel as little of the wave turbulence as possible as it rolls over you. The deeper you dive, the less turbulence you will feel.
This isn’t a direct answer and there is not magic number to give you. The general guidance is to duck dive as deep as you can.
Remember that timing is also critical when it comes to duck diving. You can duck dive deep enough, but if you come up to the surface too early you may find yourself getting pushed around by the white water.
Can you duck dive a 7ft board?
Yes, you can duck dive a 7′ surfboard. Your body weight, your strength and the amount of buoyancy your surfboard has are the main factors determining if you can duck dive a 7′ or bigger surfboard.
It may be more difficult to duck dive a 7′ foamie surfboard than it will be to duck dive a 7′ epoxy or a 7′ polyurethane surfboard.
Do surfers open eyes in ocean?
Some surfers open their eyes when duck diving. Consider the water quality before doing so. Also, your eyes may be very sensitive to the salt in the ocean which can make them burn.
How long does it take to learn to duck dive?
Give yourself a few surf sessions to learn to duck dive. It is a skill like anything else. The more you duck dive, the better you will get at it.
When should you duck dive?
Beginner surfers should duck dive in most situations given that they will be surfing in relatively small surf. Duck diving will get more challenging when the surf reaches 6′.