Duck-Dive Deeper: How to Get Through Waves Safely

One technique to focus on when learning to surf a smaller board is the duck-dive technique. If done correctly, the duck-dive is a sure way for surfers to move through breaking waves and reach the lineup. A duck-dive can place a surfer in the middle of the energy of a wave if done improperly. Duck diving too shallow allows ongoing waves to push us surfers further back with every set, making it very difficult to escape the impact zone. Duck diving is a crucial technique to learn by intermediate surfers who want to develop their skills further.

Timing is Key

Like every other action in the sport of surfing, duck-diving allows a small window of opportunity for success. Diving too early will bring a surfer up facing the full force of the incoming wave. Diving too late likely will not allow for much of a dive at all, as the waves will take a surfer back before ever dipping their nose. Hit the dive a little less than a second before whitewater covers you.

Push the Nose Down and Follow your Board

I will often see beginner surfers attempting to duck-dive with unpolished technique, which looks much like they are trying to stab the wave with the nose of their board while ducking their head into their shoulders. Though humorous at times, as an instructor, it is somewhat painful to watch. When learning how to surf and the proper skills, surfers should focus on placing their grip closer to the board’s nose and pressing it away from their chest with all of their force. Now with some space between your body and the surfboard, allow your body to sink. Point the nose on your face down to the same depth as the tip of the surfboard to get under the foam.

Driving the Tail is Key

Pushing through a duck dive with either a knee or a foot is the best way to ensure a surfer will have enough depth to make it through the wave. Once the nose is plunged deep enough, an adept surfer will drive their back foot or knee into the tail while kicking their other foot up vertically behind them. Pushing the tail of the board will level a surfer out underneath the power of the wave above. 

These tips will hopefully help improve your duck dives as you master the technique. Watching other surfers who are making proficient dives will give you a good idea of how to get out to the lineup quickly.

Read more of our Surf School’s articles at Blog.

Written by Caleb Dolloff
Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

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