Guide to Bodyboards

The ocean always had a magnetic pull but going to the beach is not that fun without engaging in some water sports. One of the most popular watersports that needs minimum skills but maximum family participation is bodyboarding.

Bodyboarding is also popularly known as boogie boarding. It requires less coordination and balance like surfing or skimboarding. All you need to do is ride the waves prone and on your stomach! Even if it is this easy, it has great benefits for your body, including improving your agility and coordination.

If you are a newbie contemplating about picking up bodyboarding as a hobby or even taking it to the next level, you need this guide to help you decide whether to choose form or function. It is more than a simple foam board because these days there is plenty of thought and science behind one model.

Understanding its different parts and components and how they work can help you choose the right model for your experience level, weight, and height.

Components of a Complete Bodyboard

Bodyboards differ from skimboards and surfboards because they are more squarish in shape and shorter. The anatomy of a skimboard includes the following: core, deck, slick, channel, rail, nose, rocker, and wide point.

1. The Core

The core is the internal foam that gives shape to the board. There are three main types of bodyboard core. These are Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), and Extruded Polystyrene (EPS). These three influence the flex and price of the board.

EPS Foam. This is a rigid yet lightweight foam with closed-cell insulation, which is available in various densities. These characteristics give it the ability to withstand load and back-fill forces. This is the usual material for entry-level or beginner bodyboards because it is cheaper and lighter. Because of the material and price, expect this dents easily and could easily snap off in two.

PE Foam. This material is the usual choice for people who wants to take up bodyboarding as a regular sport. It has been in the market since mid-1970s and is known to have good “recoil” or spring. Just a caution, though, that this softens fast under the heat of the sun (75F/23C) so this is a much better choice for cooler climates. This is best for intermediate riders.

PP Foam. This type of core is the choice for mid to high-level or professional board riders. The first type is the beaded PP. This is similar to EPS but more durable, offers great flex because it is not temperature-sensitive and has awesome buoyancy in the waters. The other one is the extruded PP which is rigid but has good speed.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - March 16, 2011

2. The Slicks or Skins

The outer layer under the board is directly in contact with the water, called slicks or skin. It is designed to slide across the surface of the water, reduces drag and provides flexibility. The two types of slicks are High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and a copolymer resin called Surlyn are found underneath the board, and they are in direct contact with the water when riding the waves. It is often hard to tell the difference between both. 

HDPE Slicks. This slick allows a smooth trajectory and enhances the speed of the board because of its low-resistant nature. This is a great choice for beginners because of its affordability and it is long-lasting.

Surlyn Slicks. This slick feels like rubber and is similar to the material for golf balls. This is more expensive but can give the rider the maximum satisfaction because it is flexible, less prone to creasing and has the ability to contort and return to its original shape.

3. The Deck

The deck is the upper surface of the bodyboard where the rider lies prone when riding a wave. Its main purpose is to cushion the rider from the impact of the waves on the board. Most boards are made of either PE or Cross-Linked Polyethylene (XPE).

PE Deck. This is soft and flexible with good recoil making it an excellent padding material for boards.

XPE Deck. This is more rigid than the PE, therefore, giving better water resistance. However, this requires more wax to increase traction.

4. Channels

The indentions or canals on the slicks of the bodyboard are called channels. It is located near the tail. These channels grip the wave by increasing the surface area and controlling water flow. s well as control the board once on the wave. Its function is similar to the surfboard’s fin because it allows the rider to control movement and direction. 

This is not a necessary feature for beginner boards, but as you advance in your skill, you will notice that having channels in your boards helps you perform better.

5. Tail

The tail shape affects the performance or movement of the bodyboard in the water. It influences the ride style and maneuverability and makes performing tricks easier. The two common tail shapes for bodyboards are bat tail and crescent tail.

Bat Tail. The bat tail was designed by Mike Stewart and is named after its resemblance with Batman’s cowl. This is designed for unpredictable waves and heavier riders because of the extra buoyancy it gives at the back of the board. Its looseness and speed are also a plus but also make it unstable. Because of the increased surface area between the peg makes, it is a great choice for prone riders and those who ride small reef breaks. Riders can elevate their legs and offer less drag on the wave.

Crescent Tail. Morey invented the crescent tail bodyboard in the early 1980s. It has been a crowd-favorite. Most modern boards have this design. This is user-friendly and a favorite for drop-knee and barrel riders. The shape allows the rider to position their hips on the board. It is more stable and gives the rider a smooth ride. 

Mother and son running towards ocean with boogie boards

Bodyboards for Beginners and Kids

Children often loose interest in things so it is better to start your journey with a cheap beginner board made of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Styrofoam core. 

This usually has a leash attached to it so you can drag the board with your child on it or he can tie it on his arms to easily tug on it when he falls over. Choose an HDPE slick, deck made from XPE or IXPE deck and an EPS core because of its durability. The best tail choice would be the crescent shape.

Choose a board that is a little bit longer but not too long that they will not be able to maneuver it in the open seas. Just as they outgrow clothes, they can also outgrow a board. 

Bodyboards for Intermediate and Advanced Bodyboarders

If you want to take bodyboarding seriously, either as a hobby or professionally, the quality and performance of the board matter. A poor bodyboard can make or break your ride and tricks. If you are using a poor-quality board, you will be frustrated, but if you are riding a good board, there is a certain level of satisfaction that goes with it. 

For our next level board, consider getting a board with PE and PP core, a Surlyn slick and a PE deck. As for the tail, choose crescent.

Choosing the Size of Bodyboards

If you get a longer board, you will be challenged by its balance and control. There will be more torso on top of the board and not enough legs to paddle in the water. This will affect your child’s ability to steer the board in the water. If you choose a shorter one, it will create a drag and makes it a challenge to catch and stay on the wave.

When choosing the right size of the board, weight and height are to be considered. 


All bodyboards used to be 42” in length. This could be a bad fit for those who are not average in height. Fortunately, these days, you can get one to fit your height. 

If you are a serious bodyboarder who wears fins and prefers to ride the unbroken part of the wave, the tip of the board should reach your navel when placed on the ground. If you get a longer board, you will have a challenge with balance. There will be more torso on top of the board and not enough legs to paddle in the water. This will affect our ability to steer the board in the water. However, if you are doing this for fun and riding the white-water froth with no swim fins, you should buy a longer board for increased stability and speed. 

Another way to pick a board length is to place one tip of the board at knee level then the opposite end should end at your chin.


Your weight determines the right board width and thickness, particularly if you are on the heavy side. A heavy rider will need a board with a thicker and wider high-volume board because this will have more volume and buoyancy. If you are over 180 Ibs, choose boards labeled “high volume”. 

Some details to match the board’s length to one’s weight 

1. If the board’s length is 32 to 34 inches, the rider’s weight should be 40 to 64 pounds, and his height should be under 4 feet.

2. If the board’s length is 40 inches, the rider’s weight should be 110 to 130 pounds, and his height should be 5’3” to 5’6”.

3. If the board’s length is 45 inches, the rider’s weight should be 195 to 255, and his height should be 6’3” to 6’6”.

Two colorful boogie boards resting on a pristine beach.

Other factors to be considered when choosing the size of the bodyboard are the type of wave and the type of riding

1. Type of Wave

The size of the bodyboard also depends on the size of the waves. For big waves, a shorter bodyboard will give you more control and agility because more of your body is in the water. However, if you’re a beginner and riding smaller waves, a longer board is advisable as it will give you greater buoyancy and stability in the water.

2. Type of Riding

 A longer bodyboard is a great choice for drop-knee and stand-up positions.

3. Accessories for Bodyboards

Once you’ve chosen the right bodyboard for you, you can also accessorize it. There are many accessories for bodyboards that can provide them protection, improve their safety, and can help improve your performance as well. Here are the different accessories for bodyboards.

Bodyboard bag. If you love traveling from one spot to another, this is a must to keep your board protected. Most bags can carry up to two boards. Pick one with shoulder straps to carry your body boards on the back and side pockets to store your valuables.

Leash. With any sport, it is always safety first. Therefore, a leash is the most important bodyboarding accessory. Most boards come with leashes. It varies in branding, swivels, and coil length, while surfer’s leash is tied to the ankle or calf, a bodysurfer’s coiled leash is attached either to the wrist or bicep. Beginners and those who enjoy drop knee rides love the wrist leash, while those who ride the board prone likes the bicep leashes. Both help keep the board close to your body and save time. You only need to pull on it to start riding again when you are wiped out. It could also be a floatation device that will save you from drowning. 

Rinse your leashes with fresh water at the end of your boarding session, and do not dry them under direct sunlight to keep their integrity.

Wax. A regular routine before playing with your board is waxing it. Wax helps keep your grip on the board when you are maneuvering. You can try the sticky bumps bodyboard wax, especially when you are playing at 60 degrees above. It is buildable and feels like putty.

Swim Fins. Swim fins or flippers are not a requirement for beginner bodyboarders, but as you gain skill, you would want to challenge yourself with harder tricks. Thus making it essential for propulsion in the water, ride the waves and barrel smoother, and to help boost your board in the air. 

Design, rigidity, and style affect the fins performance. Rigid fins have more power to accelerate your board in the waters while a less rigid fin is easier to paddle because of less resistance. Short-bladed stiff swim fins are the most popular choices allowing you to paddle faster. 

To avoid cuts while wearing your fin, grab some fin socks but these are just optional. Fin savers are also available to avoid losing the fins especially during a wipe out or a huge swell. Fin laces and fin tethers are classics and just recently fin saver straps are gaining popularity.

There are different types of fin savers in order to avoid losing your bodyboard fins. The simplest ones are the fin laces. You also have classic fin tether that are possible the easiest to use. More recently, we’ve seen the invention of the fin-saver straps. They maintain the swim fins on your feet at all times while increasing the comfort of the fins on the heel straps.

Taking Care of Bodyboards

To maintain your boards performance and quality, provide it with tender loving care. Here are basic tips for you:

  • Keep it out from direct sunlight. Store it in a bag once dry.
  • Repair damages as soon as possible.
  • Wash with clean water before storage.
  • Hang it on a rack.

When buying bodyboarding accessories, a perfect mix between form and function is necessary. Now, get geared up and see you on the seashore!