Riding a bodyboard is relatively easy, but if you want to trim a wave to its full potential, you must master the subtle yet critical body positioning technique.
Have you ever noticed how a beginner or first-time bodyboarder catches and rides his first waves?
If you pay close attention, you'll see that the natural tendency is to grab the rails of the bodyboard evenly on both sides.
In a way, the body instinctively tries to find a balance for all the turbulence.
However, to get the most out of a ride, it's paramount that riders adjust their body to the type of wave they're sliding into.
That's why beginners need to learn how to position their bodies on the bodyboard. The trick is to get an optimal weight distribution and the right hand and arm placement on the board.
Both equation variables are intrinsically connected because if you move your arms forward, your chest and lower torso will automatically move forward, too.
Arms and Hands on the Bodyboard
When it comes to positioning your hands on the bodyboard, you should put your front hand over the front corner of the board.
"I personally like to keep my pinky finger around the corner on the edge of the bodyboard," explains world bodyboarding champion Iain Campbell.
Now that your front hand is correctly grabbing the top corner of the bodyboard, you need to grab the rail with the back hand, more or less in line with your hip.
With this positioning, you'll be able to lift the nose to avoid nosediving or reduce speed, as well as pull the rail up to engage the inside rail and be able to turn.
The Overall Weight Distribution
Now that your arms and hands are placed on the bodyboard, it's time to make subtle adjustments to how your weight is distributed over the wave-riding vehicle.
The first thing to do is keep your front arm bent at a 90-degree angle, i.e., with your elbow resting on the board.
At the same time, arch your back and look forward. You'll notice that the bodyboard will start planing at full speed.
If, for any reason, you need to slow yourself down, slide your whole body back on the board while maintaining your original hand and arm positions. Your legs will be in the water and will create more drag.
To speed up, perform the opposite movement - put yourself forward on the board, allowing the weight of your body to shift toward the nose.