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How to Duck Dive

How to Duck Dive

how to duck dive

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Learning how to duck dive, is a fundamental part of learning how to surf.

What is duck diving?

Duck diving refers to the method of ducking underneath oncoming waves while paddling out to the lineup. By ducking underneath the waves, you can get out to the lineup quicker, and without losing the energy and momentum from being pushed back by a breaking wave. The bigger the waves are, the more important it is to make sure your duck diving skills are on point.

(Note: Duck diving won’t work on a longboard. You’ll need to learn how to turtle roll)

How to duck dive

We’ll let you in on a little secret, learning how to duck dive is hard! It takes a lot of practice and determination to get it right. But practice makes perfect, so if you want to nail it, you will.

To begin with, try it out when the waves are small. Once you feel comfortable duck diving in smaller waves, you’ll naturally build up your confidence and skills in bigger waves. The best thing is, you can practice your duck diving technique in all conditions, even if it’s flat.

Remember: the goal is to get both you and your board as far below the wave as possible, and once you have passed underneath the wave, to recover quickly and resume paddling out.

Learn the perfect duck dive

To practice your duck dive, you first need to start paddling out. The more momentum you have, the better, as this will dictate how quickly you can push yourself underneath the water. Once you see a wave starting to break in front of you:

  1. Place your hands out in front of you on the board and grip onto the rails. Push down to begin submerging the nose of your board under the water.
  2. Make sure you keep your arms straight, and position your body forwards, to ensure you are pushing your board further underneath the water.
  3. Just before the wave breaks over you, take a deep breath, submerging almost all of your board. Now lay down flat on your board as the wave goes over you. Creating as little resistance as possible, use your knee or your back foot to put pressure on the back of your board, helping it level out under the water.
  4. Finally, once you’ve felt the wave pass over you, angle your board back and make your way back up to the surface. If you’ve done it right, you should be in a position to start paddling again straight away.

This tutorial video from Holly Beck,  a pro surfer, and coach at Surf With Amigas is an excellent example of how to duck dive if you need a video example:


That’s pretty much it. You won’t get it right on your first attempt. It takes time. But after a few tries, you will start to feel the difference between a good duck dive and a bad duck dive. Get it right, and you’ll glide smoothly underneath the wave; get it wrong, and you’ll be washed back towards the shore, lose your board, and you’ll to start it all over again.

Enjoyed reading about how to duck dive? Check out How to Read a Wave next.