If you’re an intermediate surfer that is taking on short boarding, transitioning to a smaller board, and/or starting to surf bigger waves this technique will be essential for your improvement and surfing satisfaction.
The duck dive is the alternative to the well-known “turtle roll” used to go over broken waves when surfing bigger boards. It allows you to cross the impact zone without losing too much time and will get you to the lineup faster and with more energy. Having all the benefits for a surfer, duck diving requires a lot of practice, some strength and technique to perform it properly and effectively.
The two main factors that will make your duck dive easier or harder are the volume of our board and our arms strength. The more volume your board has the harder it will be to submerge underwater. Arm strength plays a similar role, if your board has less volume there is less resistance and requires less strength to push the board under the oncoming wave, which is essential for this technique.
To successfully perform a duck dive it is important to follow the steps in the correct order, this will help you get out the back efficiently. Before you begin to duck dive, you want to generate as much speed as possible, just like when you dive under whitewash when swimming the more forward momentum you have the easier it is to get through the broken wave. The next thing to remember is your timing, you need to start performing the duck dive at the right distance from the wave, not too soon, not too late. Which is about 6 feet or 2 meters away from the breaking/broken wave, This is when you must get your body to start the dive. Be sure not to hesitate as this will slow you down and hinder your performance, the more speed and confidence you have the smoother the duck dive will be.
With those tips in mind, here is the step-by-step guide to a successful duck dive:
- Generate speed before going underwater by paddling hard and straight towards the wave.
- Around two meters (6 feet) before you reach the breaking/broken wave, grab the board firmly on the top third and “pinch ” the water with the nose of your surfboard.
- Just after bringing the nose down underwater, in one motion, press the tail or pad of the board with one foot to sink the tail and bring the board parallel to the ocean surface just underneath the wave. You must keep your arms firm to maintain the nose underwater and make big pressure on the tail to sink it enough.
- Keep flat underwater while bringing your body close to the board and let the wave go over you, then bring the nose up towards the surface accompanying it with bent arms to ensure the board doesn’t hit your face.
- If performed correctly, straight away you are in position and ready to keep paddling hard in case there is another wave coming and a second duck dive is required.
This will require practice, don’t give up and take any chance to do a duck dive even in smaller waves, so you get used to it. If getting your foot on the tail of the board is tricky for you, you can also use your knee to push down the tail of the board. But if possible, train yourself to use your foot, as this provides more flexibility and helps you get used to the correct position.
If you would like further guidance and to improve your surfing whilst being surrounded by a great community of female surfers and like-minded women, join us at Surf Getaways, a surf travel and learn to surf company run by women for women.