How To Duck Dive? ( A Guide For Beginners)

Duck Dive
Read Time:8 Minute, 47 Second

Surfers can dive under waves with their surfboards by using a technique known as the duck dive, which involves submerging their boards underwater.

Don’t give up; perfecting a duck dive technique requires years of practice. The good news is that you can put these steps into practice in a variety of settings: in a pool, in a lake, in the ocean, etc. Once you can perform proper duck dives, you’ll use less energy to pass the break and have more energy to paddle and catch waves.

What Is A Duck Dive?

Surfers use the technique of “duck diving” to avoid getting smashed by breaking waves by ducking under them while still keeping their boards submerged.

A surfer can use this technique to push their board beneath the force of the wave, avoiding the white water’s turbulence, and continuing to make progress past the broken waves.

Surfers have imitated this exact movement to navigate breaking waves in a manner similar to how a duck dives with its nose first underwater and emerges nose first as well.

It’s an effective strategy that shouldn’t be disregarded.

Is Duck Diving Hard?

I’m sorry to break it to you, but duck diving is actually quite difficult.

Even though it’s not as challenging as a cutback or floater, it still has its own set of difficulties.

The good news is that once you master this ability, you’ll conserve energy and spend much more time engaging in activities you enjoy…actually surfing waves.

Effective duck diving depends primarily on two factors: Timing & Speed. 

Here is a breakdown of each.

When To Duck Dive?

When it comes to timing your duck dive, having a solid understanding of how waves break will be very helpful. 

To time a duck-dive effectively you must allow enough time to push your board under the water before the wave breaks hit you.

Avoid getting off your board too soon because you’ll lose momentum, fail to get all the way under the water, and possibly wobble before the wave even hits.

And not too late, or you risk getting a lip on your head or worse, a face full of whitewater.

Funny to watch, granted, but not so funny if the one being watched is you 

The best time to begin your duck dive is roughly one to two meters before the wave hits, depending on the size of the wave (for example, if the wave is a small wave, you should start one to two meters before the wave hits). bigger waves require more time to penetrate deeper underwater).

The best way to determine the timing is, like everything else, a little trial and error, but the aforementioned approximations should get you by for the time being.

Two Types Of Waves To Duck Dive

You need to avoid two different types of waves when duck diving.

White water refers to broken waves, while green waves refer to unbroken waves.

You’ll need to approach each differently despite the similarities.

White Water Duck-Dive

A wave becomes “white water” once it has broken. 

It is a little different to approach a white water wave to duck dive because the energy of the wave has a forward momentum toward the beach.

As you paddle towards the white water, you should first check your forward momentum to ensure you aren’t being pushed back too far.

In order to absorb the energy of the broken wave, you should ensure that you are entering the water as deeply as you can.  

I suggest using your knee if you’re paddling through gentle whitewater.

To get as deep as possible when duck diving, it’s advised to use your foot as opposed to your knee if you’re paddling through the large, gnarly white water.

Oh, and keep in mind that you must attack the whitewater perpendicular to the direction it is moving; otherwise, you risk being dragged off your board and rag-dolled repeatedly.

Green Wave Duck-dive

A wave that hasn’t broken yet is known as an unbroken or green wave.  

These waves are generally much easier to duck dive than their broken counterparts (unless it’s 20 feet).

Because the energy of a green wave is moving in a circular pattern, the knee technique is typically sufficient to successfully pass through the wave.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is to avoid performing the duck dive too late because you might end up falling over the falls, which nobody wants to do.

So make sure to pass beneath the continuous wave and not through or over it.

Duck Dive

How To Duck Dive?

Paddling Toward The Wave

The wave will be easier to jump into if you paddle and approach it more quickly. Go after the wave instead of waiting for it.

Dipping The Nose Of The Board Underwater

Take hold of your board’s rails on both sides. Put your elbows up in the air like chicken wings. You will exert some effort to raise yourself into a prone cobra position before the wave strikes you. Apply pressure to the board after that and droop your shoulders. Consider wanting to completely submerge yourself in the wave.

Foot Or Knee Placement

For drive and stability, you raise your foot or knee onto the board’s tail. In the direction you want to pass under the wave, drive the board forward and downward. Let’s say you want to drive through the tail.
In order to maintain more depth, bring your body up against the board. Let yourself naturally rise to the surface by taking a moment to relax. After breaking the surface, head for the following wave.

How Can I Practice The Duck Dive At Home?

You can practice this easy exercise at home to help you remember it.

1. Take the standard paddling stance.

2. In the “chicken wings” position, place your hands directly below your lower ribs.

3. As you ascend to the cobra position, start pushing yourself.

Your right leg should be raised in the air if you are a regular foot. You can gain momentum to push down as a result of doing this. Do the mirrored version of this if you want to be silly.

4. In order to further push the board down, extend your arms and adopt the cobra position.

5. Get to work raising your butt.

In yoga, this position is known as the downward dog. Try to apply more pressure to your palms and shoulders.

Put the right feet as high in the air as you can while extending the back feet. You will push downward after being in this position, which is the highest.

6. Lower yourself to the ground

In the same way that you would perform a narrow push-up, squeeze your elbows close to your ribs. To return to the starting position, arch your back and thrust your body forward between your palms.

Your legs will now be on the board and you will be underwater. To maintain greater depth, move your body toward the board. Let yourself recover while remaining at ease.

For muscle memory to take hold, repeat this 10 times. Place your knee on the ground instead of your feet if the drill is too difficult for you with the back leg straight.

The Duck Diving Techniques

Since the buoyancy of the board is always your biggest enemy, the trick is to submerge deeply underwater and use your knee and foot to lower yourself below the breaking or approaching wave.

To explain the duck dive:

  1. Paddle vigorously toward the incoming wave;
  2. Before the wave reaches you (five to ten feet), grab the surfboard’s rails with both hands about even with the center of your chest;
  3. Push off the board and extend your arms;
  4. Take a deep breath;
  5. With your hands on the rails, move your body weight slightly forward;
  6. Bury the nose of the board as deep as possible in the water;
  7. Point your head down;
  8. Bend and move your dominant leg forward (deck) and use that knee to push the board underwater;
  9. At the same time, use your other foot and toes to apply more downward pressure on the surfboard near the tail;
  10. Continue to push your body forward until the board is entirely underwater;
  11. Kick your back foot to propel you down under;
  12. If you can, open your eyes underwater to see the wave pass by;
  13. Slide your hands up the board, creating an upward trajectory;
  14. Whenever you feel that the turbulence is gone, arch upwards;
  15. Resurface and begin to paddle to avoid being dragged backward;

More Guidance For Duck Diving

You won’t have the speed and momentum to go downward and forward under the wave if you begin your duck dive too early, such as four meters before the wave. Due to the buoyancy of your surfboard, it will start to rise prematurely and will be hit by the wave. If you begin your duck dive too late, the white water will push your board away from you before it has a chance to get parallel to the bottom. Keep in mind to begin your duck dive when you are a surfboard’s width from the wave.

  • Make every effort to increase your paddle speed. Put yourself in attack mode and dive deep! Having too much speed is impossible.
  • Keep your distance from the surface. Avoid being pulled back by taking your time to resurface.
  • Underwater, keep your eyes open. This can occasionally assist you in navigating the bubbles with the least amount of turbulence. Advanced surfers can avoid mishaps by opening their eyes while duck diving in heavy waves hitting a shallow reef bottom.
  • Kick hard on the traction padWhile still moving forward, give serious consideration to bringing your board “deep and parallel to the bottom.”
  • Practice in a pool: Move down and forward underwater while attempting to maintain balance by first sinking your nose with your hands and then your tail with your foot.


You must be able to duck dive if you want to surf green waves, which, let’s face it, everyone does.

It might take some time, but once you master the duck dive, you’ll save a ton of energy, which will allow you to stay in the water for longer and catch a lot more waves. 

Someone who can duck dive well will be able to surf in more conditions and for longer than someone who can’t, which is a skill that is underappreciated and definitely flies under the radar.

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