Surf Tips: How to Duck Dive Like a Pro


In theory, surfing might seem like a pretty straightforward activity. All that you need is to paddle and stand up on the board while trying to maintain the right stance as you glide. Easy, right?

Well, the truth is, it is actually harder than what you might have initially thought. Once you are already out in the water, you will feel that there are many things that you have to still learn.

Among others, one of the most important techniques that you have to master is the duck dive. It is an intermediate skill that you should learn once you are done with the basics.

Want to know how to duck dive? Keep on reading the rest of this short guide and we’ll give you the detailed steps on how you will be able to do it like a pro surfer.

What is a Duck Dive?

First, let us define what exactly is a duck dive.

Basically, it is the technique wherein you are pushing the surfboard under incoming whitewater. You will use your knee or foot so that you won’t end up being throttled by the big wave. This will make sure that all the effort you have exerted in paddling will not go to waste, making it easy to retain the momentum.

Duck diving is critical when you are surfing with big waves.

When To Do a Duck Dive

Before you learn the specific steps that are involved, it is important to note that a duck dive is not appropriate in all situations.

One of the elements that will dictate on whether or not you can do the duck dive is the surfboard that you are using. It is restricted to shorter boards. If you are using a longboard or a minimal, on the other hand, it is the turtle roll that you have to learn.

Basically, there are two ways on how you can do a duck dive – when you are close to a barreling wave and when there is a big wall of water and you have to be underneath. You can duck dive in a wave that has already broken or a whitewater and in a wave that has not yet broken. Nonetheless, the steps that are involved are pretty much the same.

How to Duck Dive

Practice, time, perseverance, and patience – these are some of the essentials when learning the art of duck diving. It is an art that you most probably won’t learn in an instant. To achieve perfection in your duck dive, this section will give you a glimpse at some of the most important things you need to do.

  • The first thing that you have to do is to paddle through the wave. In this step, your speed will be crucial. Without the right speed, it will be impossible for you to do a duck dive. The faster you are, the easier it will be to perform a technique. As a rule of thumb, you have to start gaining speed in your paddle around two meters before the wave.
  • Now, you are ready to dip the nose of your board under the water. Once the nose is under, it is time to push the back of the board. You can do this using either your foot or your knee. This will help to bring the board to the bottom.
  • As the wave comes after you, flatten the board under the water. Make sure that your body is positioned as close to the board as possible. While you do this, apply a bit of pressure on the back. Otherwise, your weight will be too light, and you will end up popping out of the water.
  • If you start to feel that there is no more whitewater, apply pressure at the end of the board. This will allow you to pop out of the desired side of the water. It is crucial to not go up too soon. Naturally, with the buoyancy of the board, you will be floating all the way up once the wave has passed.

Common Mistakes when Duck Diving

Common Mistakes when Duck Diving


Now that you know the steps on how to duck dive, below are some of the mistakes that you should not commit:

  • Not Paddling Fast Enough: As it has been mentioned earlier, speed is one of the most crucial elements when it comes to perfecting the duck dive. You should paddle fast enough to attack the water that is on its way to you.
  • Not Going Deep: When you are pushing your board, the ideal angle of penetration is 45 degrees. It is better if you go deeper, which will also prevent the possibility that you will resurface sooner.
  • Not Keeping your Head Down: One of the most common mistakes that beginners make is to keep their head up while they are doing the duck dive. The wave will easily catch you when your head is facing upwards. In contrast, when you bow your head down, it will be easier to maintain your position under the water until the time that you are ready to resurface.
  • Going Up Too Early: The right timing is another critical component of the perfect duck dive. If you resurface too early, you will end up being thrown by the wave. This makes it important to keep your eyes open when you are under the water to make it easier to determine when it is already the right time to go up.
  • Not Kicking Hard: This is one of the first things that you will need to do in a duck dive. You have to push your leg hard on the traction pad so that it can sink completely in the water. Remember, as mentioned earlier, deeper is always better. With this, you should exert as much effort as you can to be able to kick the board deep in the water.
  • Not Holding Tight: Duck diving also requires you to have a strong grip on the surfboard. Even the pros lose their board at times, so it is important that you know how to handle it properly when you are under the water.
  • Not Practicing: As they say, practice makes perfect. You can practice even in a swimming pool before you head out in the open water.

Wrap Up

As shown above, duck diving is a surfing technique that can be quite complicated, which is why it requires a lot of practice. Once you are able to master it, however, you will feel like a pro instead of being in a constant struggle popping out from under the water.

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