Whether you’re a seasoned surfer looking for a new way to play, or the occasional summertime sea dipper, bodyboarding is an inclusive and fun water sport that ticks all the boxes. In this blog we’ll cover:
1. Introduction to bodyboarding
2. Choosing the right bodyboard for you
3. The kit you’ll need for bodyboarding
4. Getting started and hitting the waves
What Is Body Boarding & When Did It Become So Popular?
Bodyboarding dates back to the early 1700s and has a key place in the history of watersports. Born from the Indigenous Polynesian ‘Alaia’ where locals surfed on their tummies, knees and every so often their feet, bodyboarding has come a long way. Bodyboards were originally made from wood carved in different shapes and sizes and then progressed to fibreglass with the introduction of a fin.
Through the 80s & 90s, bodyboarding really took off, with a new generation of bodyboarders attracting attention across the globe (largely due to their fearless approach to the sport!). Big wave bodyboarding gained huge momentum, with the professionals securing overseas sponsorship, media coverage and some serious respect within the surfing community.
Nowadays, bodyboarding has become a much more inclusive watersport, perfect for beginners enjoying the waves for the first time, right up to professional bodyboarders. You might be thinking, what do I need for bodyboarding? No worries, we’ve got you covered! In this guide, we’re going to explore the equipment needed to get started with bodyboarding, covering all the essentials to get you out on the waves.
Choosing The Right Bodyboard
Here at Wetsuit Centre, we stock bodyboards in all shapes and sizes. With so many to choose from, how do you know which one to pick?
First, you should look for a bodyboard which is the right height for you. A simple way to work this out is to place the board against your naval; if it’s touching your belly button, that’s the perfect height of bodyboard for you!
Next up is the weight of the board, as this can affect the overall ability of the board. If you pick a board that doesn’t match your weight, you might not be able to float properly, which will impact the quality of your ride. If you have a heavier build, we’d also recommend going up a couple of inches on the height of your board. See below our table as a guide to which bodyboard size would best fit you:
For adults, some great first bodyboard brands could include our best-selling NDM, Sorted Surf and Vision bodyboard collections.
For kids, the same system of considering height and weight is a sensible way to choose their board. As a good gauge, a 34-inch long bodyboard is often ideal for a six-year-old to begin their bodyboarding fun, so a simple trick is to add an inch to the height of the board for every year they keep growing! As always, please check with our qualified staff if you’re unsure, and they will be more than happy to help.
What To Wear Bodyboarding
Choosing The Right Wetsuit
The first step to taking part in all watersport activities is to find the right wetsuit. Once you know what season you’ll be surfing in and have a rough idea of the water temperature, you can choose the appropriate wetsuit to suit your needs.
The majority of people bodyboarding in the UK choose to do this through the kinder summer months, meaning a summer suit or ‘shorty’ (short sleeve and bottoms) will be ideal for you. The main aim of a summer suit is to give you all the protection you need while ensuring you don’t overheat on those balmy summer days. If you’re unsure, we have a guide all about choosing the right wetsuit thickness here:
It is highly recommended that you also wear a rash vest under your suit to protect your skin from any irritation; this can be from the sand or the bodyboard. In really hot weather conditions, you can also opt to wear a rashie on its own to keep you protected from the elements.
Getting A Leash For Your Bodyboard
You should never go bodyboarding without a leash, as this is what keeps you and your bodyboard connected. Having a leash will mean that your board is always at arm's distance, which is particularly important in challenging conditions.
Your bodyboard will act as a buoyancy aid when you are out in the water, so you should never be separated from your board. Some bodyboards will come with a built-in leash, while others will need to be bought separately; this should be checked upon purchase.
Losing your board is not only hazardous to yourself and others in the water but can also pose a threat to our environment and sea wildlife if they get lost at sea.
Extra Items For Your Bodyboard Kit
There are a few additional items that are worth having in your kit before heading out for your bodyboarding session. These include:
Once you’ve had a taste for bodyboarding in its normal form, you might want to consider progressing to using fins and fin savers. Fins (sometimes known as ‘flippers’) are a great way to advance to catching bigger and cleaner waves. This is because the fins will help you accelerate and propel you through the waves at a higher speed, making those cranking sets easier to catch.
For the more experienced bodyboarders, you can use your swim fins to assist duck diving or use them as a brake when trimming and carving across waves. Despite being a more advanced bodyboard option, fins can actually be a fantastic safety feature as they’ll help you swim back to shallow water much faster.
When choosing your first pair of fins, make sure they are the correct size for you - you don't want uncomfortable fins that rub! A way to ensure your fins don't rub is to purchase some fin socks to wear underneath. Fin socks will also keep the fit nice and snug between your feet and the fins, meaning better energy transfer from your foot to the fin.
Bodyboard bags are a great way to travel with all your gear and can keep your board, leash, fins and more all in one place. Modern bodyboard bags also offer additional features, such as having pockets for wallets or car keys, as well as smart drainage and ventilation systems.
Whether you're on a long-distance adventure or are simply walking from the car park down to the beach, having a bodyboard bag is a comfortable, durable and safe way to carry your equipment.
Once you have all your essentials, you'll be fully prepared to hit the waves and have the best session possible. Don't forget, if you ever want to up your bodyboarding experience and invest in some upgrades; Wetsuit Centre will have everything you need to do so.
Now, let's go catch some waves!
So you've got all your kit, and you're ready to go bodyboarding! Start by choosing a safe place to surf - this would be a lifeguarded beach where there is a designated area for bodyboarders. The designated area for bodyboarders will be indicated by yellow and red flags, whereas surfers and those using hardboards should keep within the white and black flags. Once you've picked a beach that is appropriate for bodyboarders, the next step is to start catching those waves.
If you've not been bodyboarding before or would just like a refresher on how to best practice bodyboarding, check out our guide to bodyboarding for beginners, where we cover all things paddling, turning and catching waves, sea safety and more!
Got any burning bodyboarding questions? Why not contact us on our social media channels or via telephone or email; we would love to hear from you!