How To Duck Dive


Surf beginners have a lot of skills to master, and one of the most important is to learn how to duck dive. Basically, duck diving refers to sinking the surfboard on the water to dive under the upcoming waves. It keeps you safe and helps to maintain proper position even after the wave has passed through.

It is almost effortless to perform a duck dive if you know how to do it correctly. Otherwise, it will be easy for the waves to trash you and your board. You can be easily dragged all the way to the coast if you do it incorrectly.

Want to learn more about duck dive surfing? Read on and we got you covered! We’ll let you know the basics, and even the mistakes you need to avoid.

Why You Need to Learn Proper Duck Diving

To start with, let us look at the reason why you need to learn duck diving in the first place. This is not a waste of time. It is one of the fundamental skills any surfer should learn.

Doing a proper duck dive is crucial because it allows you to waste less energy when going under the water. It allows you to save your power for more important things. Otherwise, if you do the technique incorrectly, you will still be wiped out all the way to the coast. Speaking of being wiped out, it is also important that you learn the basics of how to survive a surfing wipeout.

To add, duck dive surfing is an important skill because it helps you to survive the waves, especially the bigger ones. Most people who are new to surfing might instantly become intimidated when they see a huge wave coming. If you know duck diving, on the other hand, you can be confident that you will be able to get through it.

If you don’t know how to duck dive, do not be surprised if you get pummeled. You will also probably lose your board.

Practice Duck Diving at Home

Before we discuss how to do it in the water, let us first talk about how you can practice at home. Before heading to the ocean, it helps if you already know the principles before you apply them in real life. Practicing at home is one of the best ways to prepare for a surf trip. Like yoga for surfers, practicing duck diving at home is a good way to do it perfectly.

  1. Find an open area where you can practice. Make sure there is enough room for the hands and feet to move around.
  2. Lie flat with your belly on the floor, similar to how you would position your body when paddling a surfboard.
  3. Imitate the position of the wings of a chicken. To do this, just place your hands on your lower ribs.
  4. Now, push your body up by assuming the cobra position. It is like doing a push-up, but your hands are lower.
  5. As you try to push your body up the floor, move your right leg up. If you are goofy, move your left leg up.
  6. Extend your head and your upper body forward.
  7. Now, raise your butt in the air and put your one foot up.
  8. Pull yourself lower on the ground while your foot remains in the air.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Duck Dive

Now, let’s go to the real deal. After practicing at home, now is the time to head to the water and put everything that you have previously learned in a real-life application. Before you do this, make sure that you already know the basic rules of surfing.

Take note that there are two types of waves that you can duck dive. The first is a wave that is already broken, which is known as white water. It has forward-moving energy, which makes it difficult to pass through it. Meanwhile, you can also do duck dive surfing in a wave that has not yet passed.  This kind of wave has a circular motion.

Below, we’ll outline the basic steps that you need to follow if you want to learn how to duck dive.

  1. The first phase is paddling toward the wave. The quicker you paddle and get through the wave, the easier it will be to perform a duck dive. One thing that most beginners do is to wait until the wave is near before paddling out. This is a big no-no. The right speed and momentum are critical to confront a powerful wave. It is also a good idea to assume the attack mode, wherein you will be going straight to the wave with maximum speed. If you do not paddle with enough attack, you will be too weak, making it difficult to sink and easy to be toppled.
  2. Once the surfboard is only about two meters or six feet away from the wave, start with the duck dive.
  3. At this point, you are now ready to start with the second phase of duck dive surfing, which is dipping the nose of the surfboard in the water. Grab the rails of the board under your pectorals. Your upper body must be leaning on the top part of the surfboard. Direct contact on the skin can affect movement and can hurt, so make sure that you are wearing the right surfing wetsuit.
  4. To push the board down, you need to assume the chicken wing position we have discussed earlier then proceed to the cobra pose. Exert strength on your arms and shoulders to push the board down the water. While doing this, make sure that you also keep your arms in a straight position to easily submerge most parts of the board.
  5. After sinking the front part of the board, now is the time to submerge the lower part. Use your foot or knee to do this. Push downwards from the traction pad. See to it that the surfboard traction pad is in good condition before you head to the water. Otherwise, your foot or knee will slip.
  6. By this time, the entire surfboard should already be under the water while the wave passes through you on the top. Do whatever it takes to keep your body and the board sinking. For some, they lift their leg similar to a scorpion to avoid the board from resurfacing on the water at a point that is too early.
  7. Now, you need to bring your body closer to the surfboard. One tip to remember is that you should bring your body to the board and don’t bring the board closer to your body. If you pull the surfboard closer to your body, this prevents you from sinking under the water while the wave is still on the top.
  8. You should now bring yourself to the surface. Once the waves have passed you, you can position the nose up so that the board will resurface. The board will be naturally buoyant, and you will be above the water in no time.

The Importance of Timing


Like in the case of learning how to catch more waves in surfing, timing is crucial. Starting too early will make you lose momentum and speed. By the time the waves hits, you may no longer have the energy or you already have slowed down. Also, the buoyancy of the surfboard will cause it to resurface even if the wave is still over you.

On the other hand, when you start duck diving too late, you will lack the time to position the board parallel to the bottom. Also, the wave will hit you and it won’t take long before you see yourself crashing on the shore.

Hold Tight

Whatever happens, do not let go of the board while you are duck diving. If you lose grip of the board, it will resurface on its own, and in turn, you will also be out of the water even if the wave is still there. Even professional surfers tend to lose their surfboard from their hands when they do a duck dive.

You need to hold on to your board like it is the most precious thing in the world. You can get pummeled on the shore, but at all times, do not let the board go. Otherwise, it can pose serious safety threats to other surfers.

Be Familiar with our Board

If you ask experts for tips on how to duck dive correctly, one thing that they will often mention is board familiarity. This makes it important to know your surfboard by heart, which will make it easier to control its movements under the water. You need to know how deep it will sink, how long it can stay under the water, and how you can paddle it.

Speaking of board familiarity, it is also important to point out that you need to know if the board is suitable for duck diving or not. If your surfboard has a lot of volumes, it will be hard to push it under the water. Skimboards, bodyboards, and windsurfing boards are not to be used for duck diving since they serve other purposes.

Duck diving is best when you do it with hybrid boards, shortboards, and fish-type boards. If you are using a bigger surfboard, passing through a wave is easier when you practice a turtle roll instead of duck diving.

Globo Surf Overview

Learning how to duck dive is not as easy as what you might have initially thought. It requires the need to understand the wave mechanics first before you can do it right. Nonetheless, if you take note of the steps mentioned above, it will be easier to keep the board and your body under the water while waiting for the wave to pass through and without you being wiped out.

Now that you know the fundamentals of duck dive surfing, take the time to read out guides on how to do air in surfing, how to do a surfing cutback, and how to surf faster, among others. These articles will help you become better in no time!

More Surf Reviews:


  1. Surf Trick Tips: How to Duck Dive,
  2. How to Duckdive,
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!