Duck dive for surfers: perfect form and typical mistakes

How to pass under waves with minimum effort with a perfect duck dive.

Many advanced surfers use a shortboard and have the luxury to go under water like a duck with their boards and let the wave roll over them (called the duck dive).

learn the duck dive

If you are not using a short board for surfing, the turtle roll is the right move for you.

Learning this drill will help you spare some energy. Getting through the white wash without knocked off from your board will make your surfing session easier and more enjoyable.

Quick analysis — why your wave is washing you back to the shore

  • Duck diving is similar to any movement in that it seems effortless when everything is performed correctly, but you will get trashed by the wave if any part is done incorrectly.
  • The most common mistake is not sinking deep enough under the wave, or that you want to come up too soon. In both case you will get washed back towards the beach.

How to do the duck dive the right way

Duck diving is one of our hardest skills to learn correctly.

Before I teach you for the right technique I want you to understand the mechanics of the wave. Waves are not just moving towards the beach, but rolling and spinning around. Right after the wave builds up the lip falls down (white wash) and it creates a circular energy. This circular energy will help and send you to the right direction.

Phase 1 (paddling towards the wave)

Before you sink under the wave you want to increase your paddle strokes — the faster you paddle the easier to go into the water. Do not wait for the wave, paddle towards it.

Phase 2 (dipping the nose of the board in the water)

Grab the rails on both side. Stuck your elbows up in the air like chicken wings.

Before the wave hits you — rise up (push yourself up to a prone cobra pose) and from there put a lot pressure on the board and dip your head and shoulders downward. Imagine that you want to sink yourself right under the wave.

Phase 3 (foot or knee placement)

Foot or knee comes up on to the tail of the board (footstrap can also be used). Drive the board down and forward to the direction you want to pass the wave. Imagine that you want to push through the tail.

Go low to with the board. Bring your body close to the board so you can maintain more depth. Relax and let yourself come back up. Than paddle towards the next wave.

How to practice the duck dive at home

To drill this in, you can do this simple exercise at home. I show you the full motion first, then we break it down step by step:

duck dive how to animgif

1, Assume standard paddling position

 phase 1
phase 1

2, Place your hands right below your lower ribs (“chicken wings”).

 chicken wings

3, Start pushing yourself up to the cobra position (rise up). If you are a regular, place your right leg up as per the picture. This will help you to gain more momentum to push down. (for goofy stance do the mirrored version)

push yourself up

4, Extend your arms and assume the cobra position, so you can push down the board more in a few moments.

 extend arms

5, Now start pushing your butt up in the air

Try to put more pressure on your palms and shoulders (in yoga we call this the downward dog pose). Head — knee — shoulder goes over and down.

Extend the back feet,and lift the right feet up in the air as much as you can. This is the top position, from here on you will push push down.

6, Lower yourself towards the ground

Squeeze the elbows to your ribs as like you would perform a narrow push up. Arch your back and push your body forward in between your palms back to the starting position.

 lower yourself

You will now be underwater and both legs will be on the board. Bring your body close to the board so you can maintain more depth. Relax and let yourself come back up. Than paddle towards the next wave and remember the duck.

 learn the duck dive

Repeat this 10x to commit to muscle memory. If the drill is too hard for you with the back leg straight, place your knee on the ground instead of your feet. For smaller waves this also should be enough to get you under water.

Using this simple drill, you will ride spend less time paddling out and will catch more waves +have more fun surfing. And that is what matters.

Because fun in surfing = catching the most waves during your session.

Let me know if this helped you, or what you want me to cover next by emailing me at [email protected], or sign up below.

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