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Duck diving is a technique, which allows you to pass under the waves when paddling out to the lineup. This technique is used for shortboards because they are markedly smaller and lighter than longboards. To duck dive, paddle hard to get as much speed as possible when approaching the wave. You should dive approx 2ft before the white water have reached you, grabbing the rails of the board halfway between nose and middle point of your board and pushing all your upper body weight to your hands till the moment you feel the nose of the board going under the water. Your head should be pointed down and your body should follow this movement. As soon as your upper body is below the surface bend your front leg and push the tail of the board under the wave with your knee. The time spent under the water will be very short. As soon as the wave have passed, you should let your board lift you up to the surface. Once you hit the surface you should start paddling straight away. To practice duck diving you can try it out in the flat water repeating the movement again and again. Practice makes perfect!
There are quite a few techniques for passing under the waves with the longboard: push-ups, shoot and coot, Eskimo roll, slice and duck.
* Push-up: if you´re paddling with your longboard on smaller waves the push-up technique is the best. You should just push up your chest and the wave will pass under your body.
* The shoot and scoot technique: you should sit at the back of your board close to the tail to sink it, at the same time grabbing the rails around the middlepoint of the board in order the board to raise above the wave. You shouldn´t allow the nose to raise too much for board to flip, as well as you shouldn´t grab the board at the nose.
* Eskimo roll: this method is old school but simple. You should grab the board and flip it so the wave passes over the board. Not to be picked up by the wave and pushed back to the shore you should grab the board close to the nose before flipping it.
* Slice and duck: push down your board on the one side so it sinks into the water, simultaneously push down on the deck so the surfboard´s nose dives under the water similar as a duck dive with the shortboard.
The best is to start with catching at least a couple of broken whitewater waves in the shallow water (the waist deep in the water) instead of going straight to the lineup and struggling there. At this point you should be sure about your position on the board, so point the nose of your board towards to the beach and as the whitewater comes closer paddle towards the shore. It´s unfailing feeling once the wave have picked you up and pushed you forward. In case if your positioning on the board is not correct the board will nose-dive (if your body is too far to the front of the board), or you will lose the wave and it will pass under your board (if your body is too far to the back of the board). To get the feeling of the wave, it´s speed and movement, catch and ride a couple of waves till the beach just laying on your board without standing up. The technique of standing up you´ll find in the next chapter.
Once you´ve got the feeling of the whitewater, paddle out to the lineup and try to catch unbroken waves - this is what surfing is all about! As soon as you´ve reached lineup (behind the waves, before they are breaking), sit up on your board facing the sea. It takes a while to find your balance when sitting on the board. You can practice it at the lineup or in the flat water, as well as practicing turning the board to the right direction once wave is approaching. When you have chosen the wave to pick up, make sure that you´re catching the wave far enough when it slopes, but not when it becomes too steep. As the wave approaches you should turn your board to the direction of the beach, lay down and start paddling. As soon as you feel the lift of the wave, paddle as hard as possible and lean your weight a bit forward meanwhile raising your chest so your weight is just above the center of the board. Don´t trust your feeling to lean back ´cause this is how you will loose the speed. If you have caught the wave you should be now sliding down the slope of the wave. It´s normal, that at the beginning you´ll tend to wait till you´re in the flat water in the front before standing up. The ideal is to stand up as soon as you feel the pull of the wave.
As soon as you feel confident in your paddling and standing up practice, it´s time for the next step - riding the waves. The real goal of all surfers is to angle along on the wave on it´s open face when it goes parallel the beach so you can gain the maximum speed and get the longest ride possible. Before starting paddling for the wave in the angle you should decide which direction - left or right you will ride the wave. Skill of reading the waves, so you understand the behaviour and predict the direction of the wave, comes with the time but for now the angle will depend on the type of the wave that you´re planning to ride. If you´re surfing a sloping, squashy wave you should start angling to the right already when paddling so you can stay ahead of the whitewater using the most energy of the wave.
But when surfing more hollow waves you must follow your drop line to the flat water to avoid pushing the rail or nose and falling on the drop. The technique of this turn is comparatively simple. While you´re keeping the centre of gravity low with legs bent in the knees, lean your weight a bit in the direction you choose towards the face of the wave. Thus the rail will be pushed into the water with the keel effect and will be cutting the wave guiding the board to the direction you have chosen. It´s similar for the shortboard and the longboard but on the longboard you will need to use the rear section of your board to turn it. Too much leaning to the front will cause the end of the ride because the rail will be digged.
There are lot of different surf breaks and to make your surfing progress faster and more efficient, you need to choose the right one for your level. It´s better to choose the beach break instead of the reef break (waves are breaking over the rocks, reefs etc). Be aware that heavy beach break will only slow down your surfing progress. An easy, slushy 2 - 4 ft beach break is the best choice for learning. Try to find the spot which is not too crowded so you don´t have to bother about other surfers and beginners all the time when you should be improving your surfing skills.
If you have longboard you should find the position of your body on the board so the nose is approx 1inch out of the water, but if you have shortboard you should keep your weight centered in the middle of the board. The most important is to find the perfect position of your body on the board in order to have minimum resistance when paddling. As soon as you have found this position and feel the board sliding through the water easily, remember it and stick to it. If the water is bumpy and messy you should lift your chest a bit to lighten the weight on the board. Thus the nose and the rails of the board don´t go under the water. As soon as you have found the perfect balance, paddle out to the lineup.
Once you have chosen the right spot and picked up your board, it´s time to start paddling out. Paddling is very important skill in surfing. More you practice, more you´ll feel the difference when surfing. At first it´s better to walk with your board out till you are waist deep in the water; then lay down with your body on the deck of the board facing the sea in the position described previously. To start paddling use a crawl stroke with your arms, to increase the power of the paddle use cupped hands. Paddle as close to the rails of the board as possible to gain maximum speed.
To learn the first steps of standing up on the surfboard you should start practice in the sand at the beach. It looks easy but as soon as the board is on the moving surface ie. in the water, it won´t feel so balanced anymore and you will feel how much more practice you need. First of all you should know which foot you put in the forward position - the one that feels natural to be in the front. To find out that you should stand up straight, close your eyes and fall forward (or ask a friend to poke you forward), the foot, which first reacts to this balance change and toes forward is the front or the leading foot. If your front foot is the left it´s called the regular or natural stance but if your front foot is right then it´s called the goofy foot stance.
The movement when you push yourself up from laid down position to the stand up is called pop-up. To do that lie down on the board (on the sand, be careful with the fins) and do a push-up till your arms are locked, pull both knees towards your stomach and pull up to your feet so your front foot is in the front. You should practice this movement in the sand till you feel confident.
After practicing at the beach in the sand, the next step is to try in the whitewater:
* paddle for the broken (whitewater) wave and as soon as you feel that the speed of your board is faster than you´re paddling so the wave have picked you up, you are ready to stand up.
* placing your arms close to the rails next to your chest make the quick push up movement.
* at the same time lock your arms completely and push your knees quickly to your chest. Make sure that your center of balance doesn´t go too much to the front or back, you should keep it in the middle as you did when lying on the board.
* then place your feet on the board so back foot is next to the tail but the front foot is close to the midpoint of the board.
* don´t try to stand up straight immediately, keep you center of gravity lowered and in the middle so your weight is at the midpoint of the board. Keep your arms away from your the body and focus your look forward.