How do you get past through big and rough waves while surfing? This is a common question among newbie surfers. One way is through duck diving.
But what is duck diving, and why is it important that you learn it? And most importantly, how should you do it? Read on to find out everything you need to know about duck diving.
What is Duck Diving?
The duck dive is a technique surfers use to get their boards underwater. They do this so they can get past big waves. Rather than going over the wave, they go under to avoid getting pummeled and pushed back by the water.
The duck dive is one basic skill every surfer must know. It’s a technique that will keep you safe in the face of crashing waves. It involves teamwork between your body and the surfboard, diving underwater like a duck so the wave would roll right over you. Thus, the name duck dive.
While the duck dive is a basic surfing skill, it takes years of practice to develop. Like any other movement, it might seem effortless to do when performed properly. However, the massive wall of waves will easily knock you back if you get any of the steps incorrectly.
Before you hit the water, is your surfboard short enough to perform the duck dive? Duck diving requires you to have either a shortboard, a hybrid board, or a small fish-type surfboard. These types of surfboards don’t float too much. Remember that your goal in duck diving is to go underwater, so you’ll need a board with less volume.
The more volume your surfboard has, the more difficult it is to push underwater. If you’re using a bigger surfboard, it’s usually better to do the turtle roll technique.
Step-by-step Guide on How to Duck Dive
Now that your surfboard is ready, it’s time to learn the basics of duck diving. Below is a step-by-step guide on how you can perform this surfing technique.
Step 1: Paddle Hard Toward the Wave
Paddle fast and approach the wave.
Duck diving is about forward momentum. You need to gain ample speed to duck dive a crashing wave. Don’t hesitate; go straight to the incoming wave as fast as you can.
Step 2: Prepare Hitting the Wave
Stop paddling and grab the surfboard’s rails with both hands only when you are about two meters away from the wave.
Step 3: Bury the Nose of the Surfboard Underwater
With both of your hands on the surfboard’s rails, lean toward the front part of the board, making sure that your upper is over that front part. Extend your arms and push down the surfboard’s nose underwater using your shoulders’ strength.
Here’s a tip: Keep your arms straight to dig the surfboard deeper underwater.
Step 4: Bring the Tail of the Surfboard Underwater
Now, it’s time to bring the whole surfboard underwater. To do this, push the tail of the surfboard down with your knee or foot.
Bend and lift your dominant leg forward like a scorpion. This will put more weight to push the surfboard downward.
Then, push down on the tail with your other foot and toes. This will make your board parallel to the bottom which is critical when the wave passes over you.
Do this fast after sinking the nose of the surfboard. This will allow you to move forward underwater.
Caution: The bubbles of white water beneath a wave can knock your surfboard out of hands if the nose is not parallel to the bottom.
Step 5: Lower Your Body to the Surfboard
With your surfboard parallel underwater, bring your body to your board. To do this, bend your arms as the wave is passing over you.
Note: You should be bringing your body to the surfboard and not the other way around. Your surfboard won’t sink deep enough if you pull it up to your body. This will lead to the wave pushing you back to the beach.
Kick your back foot to move underwater. Open your eyes if you can to see the wave pass by.
Step 6: Resurface
When you feel that the wave has passed over you, it’s time to resurface. Slide your hands up the board and arch upward. The natural buoyancy of your surfboard will also carry you on the surface.
However, ensure that the turbulence is gone before you resurface, or you’ll end up getting pulled back.
Here’s another tip: Frog kick using your legs to go up the surface quicker.
That ends the step-by-step guide on how to duck dive. Now, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. But if you can’t hit the beach right now, read on to find out how you can practice duck diving at home.
How to Practice at Home
Duck diving takes a lot of practice to master. However, you probably don’t have the luxury of time surfing on the beach every day. Don’t worry because you can still practice duck diving at home. Here’s a simple exercise you can do to familiarize your body with duck diving.
- Place your hands right below your lower ribs while in the standard paddling position.
- Push yourself up to the cobra position.
- Extend your arms with your right leg up in the air. Doing so will help you build momentum, enabling you to push the board down.
- Push your butt up in the air while putting more pressure on your shoulder and palms.
- Extend your back foot and raise your right foot as much as possible.
- Push down with your elbows squeezing your ribs as you would do in narrow push-ups.
- As you lower yourself to the board, push your body forward. This should be your position as you go underwater.
- When you’re underwater, you should be back on the standard paddling position. Position your body close to the board to gain more depth.
- Slide your hands up the board and arch upward to resurface.
- Repeat the steps multiple times so your muscle would remember.
More Tips on Duck Diving
To better understand the art of the duck dive, we listed down more essential tips that should explain the processes behind this surfing technique. From understanding the wave to getting the timing right and keeping your eyes open underwater, master the duck dive below.
- Understand the Wave
Mastering the duck dive does not only include getting the right surfboard, momentum, and position. It also includes understanding the mechanics of a wave.
There are two distinctive energy and flow of water beneath the wave:
- A wave that’s already broken – This type of wave is also known as white water. If a wave has already broken, you might need to go under all the white water or go through the bubbles beneath it. This is because the energy in white water goes towards you, and the white water extends beneath the surface.
- A wave that hasn’t broken yet – In an unbroken wave, the energy goes in a circular motion. This energy pulls you through the wave and pushes you out the back. That’s why it’s relatively easier to get through an unbroken wave than ones that are already broken.
- Timing is Everything
Starting your duck dive too late or too soon will get you knocked back to the shore.
Starting too soon, say, four meters before the wave, won’t give you enough speed and momentum to sink your surfboard beneath the wave. And if ever you do, you won’t have enough force to propel yourself forward underwater.
Your surfboard’s buoyancy will only carry you back to the surface immediately, exposing you to the crashing wave.
Meanwhile, starting too late won’t give you enough time to position your surfboard parallel to the bottom. The water will then knock your surfboard out of your hands.
Again, start duck diving when you’re a surfboard’s length away from the wave. That’s approximately two meters away from the wave.
- Keep Your Eyes Open Underwater
Master duck divers know why they should keep their eyes open underwater. This is to detect threats such as accidents caused by shallow reef bottoms and turbulence beneath the wave.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
We can’t emphasize this enough. The art of duck diving takes time to learn and master. Beginners like you may even take a year to pull off this skill perfectly. That’s why take every opportunity you’ll have to familiarize yourself whether you’re in the pool, on the beach, or at home.
Duck diving is a critical skill every surfer must know. This surfing technique ensures your safety while doing the sport. It allows you to face crashing waves and get past through it triumphantly.
However, this basic skill takes time and effort to learn. It requires a comprehensive guide to learn how to duck dive. And although it’s a challenging process, it’s also fun and worthwhile to master.
If given enough time and patience, the duck dive is an indispensable technique a surfer like you can have in your arsenal.
Now, it’s time to get your surfboard ready and start learning duck diving.