How To Duck Dive

Some easy steps to get you into the lineup fast.

This past summer I was surfing in Nicaragua with my stepdad Craig (who has been surfing longer than I’ve been alive) when I noticed that he wasn’t duck-diving properly and consequently was getting dragged backward by the consistent surf. After a couple of quick pointers, Craig was out the back in no time–and spending less time bogged down in the whitewash. An easy and fundamental part of surfing, the duck-dive is your key to catching more waves and having more fun.–Justin Cote

Step one: Approach the wave with speed and momentum. If you’re motionless, the wave has the upper hand before you even go under it. Paddle hard toward the whitewash, and try to pick an area of the wave that has less juice than right where the lip is landing. At Teahupo‘o for instance, surfers paddle toward the part of the wave that has already broken–not where the lip is throwing out.

Step two: With your hands two-thirds of the way up your board and on the rail, push down, aiming for a 45-degree angle of penetration.

Step three: As the wave goes over your back, push down on the tail with either your knee or foot–both work just fine, although most surfers use the foot. Your board should now be horizontal and a couple feet underwater. If the water is clear enough, open your eyes to look for an area that has less turbulence and aim to pop up there.

Step four: With an exit in view, pull the board toward you while your foot is still pushing down on the tail. The energy of the wave should get under your board and ideally push you toward the surface. Think of the whole operation as if your board is a pendulum swinging under the wave in one fluid motion.

Step five: Get centered on your board, and start paddling just as you break the surface. Catch a wave, rip it to pieces, then repeat the process.