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The big fascination in the waves: Bodyboarding lets your adrenaline overflow

Bodyboarder in the wave

What is so intriguing about Bodyboarding? Is it the vague impression of danger that you sense when gazing at the powerful force of nature, the wave? Is it the kick of the pace when the wave takes you away, in the middle of the sparkling salty water that takes you to the beach? Is it the aesthetic beauty of the sea and the waves that you discover with all your senses? Bodyboard Shop The taste of salt on your lips and the sun kissing your skin? Is it the radical manoeuvers in the waves and challenging other bodyboarders? For sure, all these aspcets contribute to the fact that bodyboarding has become a very popular water sports. Also, you do not need a lot to practise, the equipment is not very expensive compared to other sports, it is easy to transport, and also, the sport is easy to learn. Even beginners are able to catch their first waves in the white water afer some minutes or hours. That way, a perfect water sports holiday is guaranteed.

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Materials & Construction

Bodyboard construction

Although many manufacturers use many different names for their materials and construction methods which are even sometimes invented in order to stand our from the competition, you can distinguish between some basic materials and production ways that offer different qualities and advantages.

Core material

The most striking difference that is also decisive for the price range and the performance. The cheapest core that only has a very limited use for bodyboarding is the EPS Core. This is a highly compressed polystyrene that is very cheap to produce but unfortunately not very tough. Especially heavy surfers are likely to break their boards as soon as they leave the white water zone and go into the real waves. That is why you should consider board cores made ofPolyethylene (PE) or Polypropylene (PP) if you want to do some serious bodyboarding and are not only looking for a one-season beach toy. While PP Boards are even more resilent, long-lasting and only have half the weight of a PE board, they have the disadvantage that the lose stiffness in colder water and therefore have worse flex qualities. This is why for European spots, a PE core is more suitable even though the general qualities are not exactly as good as for PP cores.


Bottom

Bodyboard bottom and tails

The bodyboard bottom should be as smooth and robust as possible. After all, a bodyboard bottom could have ground contact from time to time if you are not careful. Depending on the type of beach, this could be problematic for your board lifetime. In order to have the desired qualities, many brands use HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene), a plastic plate that is very smooth an with slight flex qualities that gets laminated into the bodyboard bottom. When it comes to speed and solidity, only Surlyn can beat the HDPE performance. But is is also much more expensive. These kinds of bottom materials are defined as Slick.


Nose and Tail Design

The tail design which defines the shape where the bodyboard adapts to the surfer body has a major impact on the ride characteristics. So, it is important to choose the right board with regard to the tail design.

  • For beginners, there is a shape that grants a good board control and facilitates the steering. It is the Swallow tail, also known as Crescent Tail. It means that your bodyboard tail has a crescent moon form which is convex and which offers a perfect rest of the belly on the board. Surfboards with this shape have a little less spirit, but offer more stability and control while riding the waves.
  • More experienced bodyboarders that are looking for very sensitive boards that directly react on the slightest impulse and that want to practise radical manoeuvers choose a Bat Tail. This tail form looks like a bat's wings, that is why it has that name. As the board is less controllable.
  • In order to complete the list, I also name some experimental tail form called Squaretail, Vee Tail (V-förmiges konvexes Tail) and the Rounded Tail which do not play a role on the main market. You find these kinds of tails on less than 1 % of the boards sold worldwide.
  • Nose Design: The wider the nose, the better the board catches the wave.
  • Nose Design: The wider the nose, the more control in the wave.
  • Nose Design: The narrower the nose, the more manoeuvrability and the more direct is the steering.
  • Nose Design: The narrower the nose, the easier it is to paddle the wave

A "normal" nose width would be about 13" (i.e. about 33 cm). Nose widths below this are considered as rather narrow.

To sum it up: If you are a beginner and looking for a bodyboard buyers' advice, I would choose a bodyboard with a crescent tail and a wide nose.


Stringer, Channels, Rails: Weitere Ausstattungsmerkmale von Bodyboards

channels

stringers

Insbesondere bei Bat Tail Boards, bei denen die Kontrolle und der Geradeauslauf auf Grund der Tail-Form problematisch ist, aber auch bei anderen Bodyboards werden Channels auf der Unterseite integriert. Hierbei handelt es sich um längs verlaufende kanalförmige Auswölbungen an der Unterseite des Boards. Entgegen eingiger Vorurteile dienen Channels nicht dazu, die Endgeschwindigkeiten zu erreichen, sondern das Gegenteil ist der Fall: Die größere Oberfläche an der Unterseite und die Verwirbelungen unter dem Board haben einen bremsenden Effekt, was dem Bodyboarder wieder eine bessere Kontrolle zu Lasten der Geschwindigkeit gibt.

Bei Stringern handelt es sich um Verstärkungen, die längs in den Bodyboard-Kern einlaminiert werden und die Steifigkeit und Stabilität des Surfboards erhöhen sollen. Warme Wassertemperaturen, besonders schwere Bodyboarder oder spezielle Surf-Styles (z.B. Dropknee Bodyboarding, Standup Boarding) sind nur einige Gründe, aus denen die Rider zu Stringern greifen sollen. Denn ein zu weiches Board mit zu viel Flex gleitet nicht vernünftig durchs Wasser und macht das Bodyboard reaktionsunfreudig und langsam. Im Idealfall werden die Stringers aus Carbon gefertigt, um das Gesamtgewicht im Rahmen zu halten.

Wenn es um Rails geht, spricht man von der Form der Board-Kanten, genauer gesagt vom Verhältnis der unteren Bodyboard-Kante zum so genannte Kimmknick, also der oberen Kante, beispielsweise 50/50 oder 60/40. Am verbreitetsten ist das Verhältnis 60/40, da es für die meisten Spotbedingungen sehr gut geeignet ist. Die 50/50 Rails werden häufig als etwas stabiler, aber auch ein wenig langsamer angesehen. Ein Grund dafür ist auch, dass hierbei mehr Wasser auf das Deck laufen kann, was das Gleiten erschwert und den Drag erhöht. Individuell auf den Surfer abgestimmte Kauftipps holt man sich am besten im Gespräch direkt in einem Bodyboard Shop.

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How to find the perfect bodyboard size

What size should I buy? For a successful and fun session in the wave, the correct bodyboard size is crucial. If you choose a board that is too small, it does not offer enough buoyancy for the surfer's weight and not enough surfrace to take the wave. In that case, the wave just rolls away below you without taking you away. Bigger boards are therefore more easy to paddle, and they guarantee that you catch more waves. But if you choose a bodyboard that is too large, your board looses its agility and is more difficult to steer. So, if you want to make sure to have fun and be successful, you better choose a board that is a little too long rather than choosing one that is too short.

Here are some hints on how to choose the right size: You have to consider the surfer weight and size, the spot conditions, the skill level and if you are a sportsman or not. In order to simplify the choice, we only consider the weight and size first. As a rule of thumb, you can count on this:

  • The bodyboard, put down on the tail on the floor, should reach up to your hip
  • Up to about 55 kg body weight, the bodyboard for beginners should be at least 38" (96 cm) long, up to 65 kg at least 40" (102 cm), up to ca. 85 kg at least 42" (107 cm) and beyond that weight at least 44" (112 cm)
  • If you are in doubt about the size, you should always pick the bigger one!
  • You may want to try our bodyboard size navigator to find the right sizes for you.

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What else do I need for bodyboarding? Accessories

In general, you can do bodyboarding in a spartan way: Just the board is enough to start over. But from a practical and security point of view, the following accessories can be very useful:

The ultimate boost for planing: Fins

bodyboard fins

They are often underestimated but very very useful both for paddling and for going back out to the wave lineup: The Bodyboard fins. In contrast do regular diving fins, bodyboard fins are shorter which allows a faster leg paddling. Premium fins are also equipped with torsion stiffeners to increase the efficiency. In the area where the fins touch the feet, they are made of soft rubber to grant a high comfort. So, bodyboard fins are a real fun booster as they help you to catch more waves and to spend more time on the wave. But be careful: If you are new to using bodyboard fins, you risk cramps if you use them excessively as unused surfers underestimate the muscle strain in the legs.


Leash for the fins

When a wave whirls you around, it can happen that the force of the water rips your fins off your feet. You can protect yourself against this loss with special fin leashes that you can attach to the foot. This is not obligatory but it can be practial.


Protection against cold and sun: The neoprene wetsuit

wetsuit

If you are really enthousiastic and excited, you can lose the sense for your own body temperature. As a precaution against losing your temperature, it is recommended to wear a wetsuit. In automn and spring, you can wear one with 5-6 mm thickness, in summer, you can also use 3-4 mm depending on the temperature. If it is warm, you can also wear a shorty. As a positive side effect, you are also protected against sunburn, at least there where the wetsuit covers you.


Sun protection: A rashguard

Lycra / Rashguard

As an alternative to the wetsuit, you can also wear a rashguard if it is hot and if the water temperature is moderate. With its spandex material percentage, the material contracts that much that you achieve a sun protection factor (SPF) up to 50.


Bodyboard-Leash

You cannot resign to it as you do not want to lose your bodyboard in the waves: The Bodyboard leash Most of the bodyboards come with a leash already, especially if it is an EPS board. Anyway, you better read the product description twice to make sure that you do not stand on the beach, all ready to go, but without a leash. The different types of leashes:

  • Straight Leashes
  • Coiled Leashes that tighten themselves so that they do not disturb you
  • Arm-Leashes: You attach these on your wrist or upper arm with a velcro
  • Bein-Leashes: These are attached to your ankle.


Bodyboard Bag

Bodyboard Tasche

Some call it useless, some say that it is crucial: The Bodyboard Bag. The advantages in our option:

  • A bag protects the board against mechanical shocks, dings, scratches and more. Not only the soft EVA or PE top side needs protection, but also the slick bottom needs to be protected against scratches.
  • A bodyboard bag protects against overheating, delamination and the development of air bubbles in the deck.
  • The useful aspect: In a bag with shoulder straps, you comfortably carry your board and have both hands free for other stuff you may want to carry to the beach.


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What do I have to respect? Safety tips for bodyboarders

Safety tips for bodyboarding

Sicherheitsipps beim Bodyboarding

Just like for all other sports, there are specific safety instructions and precautions in order to avoid accidents, emergencies and injuries. Here are the most important ones:

  • You should be a safe swimmer when going into the waves as a bodyboard is not a rescue device.
  • Only go bodyboarding at beaches that are monitored by lifeguards and make sure that you are never in the water without someone watching you so that in case of emergencies, someone can call for help.
  • Never underestimate the waves or the drift / current. Even trained swimmers are unable to swim against an underset that brings you far out into the ocean. So, always ask the local authorities for recent currents and dangers!
  • If there are any, always respect the triangular flags that reflect the danger of bathing (red, yellow, green).
  • Make sure to be protected against the UV rays and the sun, especially at spots with high solar irradiation! You can use covering creme and sticks on the nose and the ears, wetsuits and rashguards. But be aware that also when the sky is cloudy, the sun can be so strong that you carry away a sunburn.
  • Before your bodyboarding session, always warm up your muscles to avoid cramps in the arms, shoulders and legs! Here, you can find some warm-up exercises.
  • Respect the other bodyboarders!
  • At cold water spots, protect yourself against undercooling, for example with a neoprene wetsuit or other neoprene parts. If you get cold, leave the water!
  • If you feel like getting tired or exhausted, leave the water!
  • Right of way: The one who takes off nearer to the white water (and the beach) has the priority!
  • Right of way: The person paddling out to the waves gives the priority to the one who is surfing a wave!
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Your first steps on the bodyboard

For a fast progress and a good sense of achievement, here are some tipps and tricks for beginners:

The right way of paddling

Paddeln auf dem Bodyboard - Tipps und Anleitung

Paddeln auf dem Bodyboard - Tipps und Anleitung
Just like many sports that you try for the first time, also paddling on a bodyboard is more difficult than it might look at first glance, but nonetheless, it is no magic:

Leg movement

Your hip lies on the backward border of your board. Your legs are slightly lowered downwards into the water. Lying on the belly, you make a closed leg movement just like when doing the crawl. You make regular alternating down- and up movements. Your swim fins reinforce your muscle power. Try to keep the legs stiff and try not to drift to the side. Always keep your fins below the water surface as this gives you the best forward movement. Your hands seize the bodyboard nose while your ellbows rest, slightly bent, on the board deck.

Paddling with your arms

Um die Stromlinienförmigkeit zu verbessern und den Wasserwiderstand den dein Körper im Wasser verursacht zu reduzieren, verlagerst du dein Körpergewicht In order to get more streamlined while paddling with your arms, push your body a little more to the board nose so that your face is near the board nose and so that your hip is almost completely on the board. Push your back up a little so that your chest goes a little up from the board. Push your chin a little up and forward. Your sight goes right forward and aimes your destination. With alternating and calm arm movements, you pull yourself forward through the water.
Tipp: In case your board deck is a little slippery when making the crawl movements with the arms, try a little surf wax on your deck (not suitable for EVA decks!)

Paddling with arms and legs

If you like to combine arm and leg paddling for a faster forward movement (which will be necessary in weak waves), you use the leg paddling position. But instead of pushing up your back, you use your chest to keep the bodyboard nose pushed down.

Doing it right: Paddling with arms, legs or both?

For a speedy forward movement, you should combine the leg and the arm paddling. If you want to avoid early fatigue, it is recommended to use either the arms or the legs. No matter what paddle technique you use: The key to efficient paddling is the right center of gravity, as described above.


Taking a wave

It is the body position and the paddling that decide if the big moment of bodyboarding, the "Takeoff", works: Do you catch the wave that takes you away, or does the wave simply roll away under you? Some tricks for taking the wave:

  • Observe the waves: You bodyboard is positioned parallely to the wave, at about the position where the waves start to break. You lie on your board up to the hip and observe the waves. One arm is bent and grabs the lateral top of the board. The other arm's ellbow is leaned on the board and its hand grabs the board nose. That way, you have full control of the board and have a lock on it. Slightly straightend up, you wait for a good wave. Make sure to keep your weight centered and that the board floats straightly on the water.
  • Alternative: You stand in the water and keep your bodyboard in both hands and wait for a new white water push. When it approaches, you take the position described above to get ready for the wave.
  • As soon as the wave approaches, turn around with 2-3 foot kicks so that the wave is right in your back. That means that the wave crest forms a 90 degree angle to your board.
  • What you need now is speed, speed and speed! Start paddling with your feet and arms as fast as you can to adjust your speed to the speed of the wave. Only with enough speed, the wave will lift your bodyboard and take you in direction of the beach.
  • For the takeoff, it may help a little to slightly push the board nose down a little, but not so much that the wave overturns your board.


Duckdiving

Duckdiving with a Bodyboard

Duckdiving with your bodyboard
There is nothing that is more annoying than being surprised by an approaching wave. After all, you want to surf on the wave, not be washed, tumbled and thrown to the beach. The best way to get out to the lineup through the white water is the so-called duck dive. This trick consists of diving through the wave below the crest. That way, you dive below the wave, below the surface where the wave has almost no force. As soon as you master duckdiving, you will see how much faster and efficient it is to paddle out. But how does duckdiving work?
When you approach the white water, grab the rails of your bodyboard near the tip/the nose. About 1-2 meters before the water front arrives, start pushing the board tip down below the water surface by relocating your body weight to the tip and by straightening the arms. Shortly after that, pull your knees in and put them on the board. That way, you push the board with all your weight down, at three points. Then, bend your arms again and dive, head ahead, through the white water or the wave. Keep the knee on the board and after having passed the Wave, simply pull the bodyboard nose back up with your hands.


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Brand overview

Here is a list of the most known and popular bodyboard brands in the world:

  • Boardcore
  • Bugz
  • BZ
  • Churchill
  • Core
  • Custom-X
  • Flood
  • Funkshen
  • ID
  • HB
  • Hubboard
  • Manta
  • Mike Stewart
  • Morey
  • NMD
  • Nomad
  • Nooney
  • Pride
  • Science
  • Sniper
  • Stealth
  • Viper
  • VS Boards
  • Waimea
  • Wave Power
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Bodyboard maintenance

A bodyboard has to endure a lot of strain. To keep the bodyboard ready for use anyway, here is some maintenance advice:

  • The overheating problem: The plastic materials that the bodyboard is made of react very sensitively to heat. For example, exposed to the sun or to heat in a car, the deck can throw bubbles that can throw bubbles and lead to delamination of the deck. That is why bodyboards should be kept and stored in the shadow if possible, at least when they are out of the water. If the bottom is bright, it reflects the heat better than a darker deck, so it might be useful to store the bodyboard with the bottom up. A strongly recommended and safe way is to put the bodyboard in a boardbag.
  • The salt and sand problem: Your Bodyboard should be rinsed with sweet water and then dried. This avoids scratches and decoloration, and the salt cannot attack the material
  • You better not put the board tail up: With the time, it can harm the tail because there is some weight on a little surface only.

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Useful links, tipps and shops

Wikipedia article on bodyboarding

Bodyboard Blog

Workout für Bodyboarder: Übungen & Aufwärmen
Workout for Bodyboarders: Warming up & Exercises

Bodyboard Shop

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