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How to bodysurf using a Handboard

Have fun

learn the basics of how to handboard

Handboarding is easy and fun

This is a comprehensive guide on how to Body surf using a Handboard. Body surfing is one thing but using a handboard is a little different. Handboarding it is not difficult. Here are a few tips and tricks to getting your technique just right.


This article is intended for beginners handboarders, and should give you the start you need to take your bodysurfing with a handboard to new heights. We will not discuss the specifics of water safety. If you would like to get a detailed description on bodysurfing techniques and ocean safety, read our bodysurf 101 article or our article on avoiding rip currents .

looking to find the right board? Take a look through our guide to choosing the right board for your ability.

common questions we get from beginner customers

slyde handboards hand-planes learn how to body surf using a hand plane wily Cole rider
what is a handboard

A handboard is a mini surfboard no more than 19 inch long that fits on your hand with an adjustable strap. The handboard serves as a planning device on the water and allows you, The rider to ride the wave faster, longer and with more control when you are bodysurfing.

slyde handboards handplanes for bodysurfing paul watts  shows us how to bodysurf using a hand plane
The benefits of using a handboard

Using a handboard gets you higher out the water meaning you go faster and further along the wave. Its also allows you to steer and guide yourself on the wave as illustrated by long timeAustralian bodysurfer Grant Schofield

"I was amazed by the speed I could get on the board, I found myself having to either stall or do turns to stop from 'out running' the wave which is unheard of while bodysurfing normally!"

check out more slyde reviews from guys and girls just like you

why use a handplane how to bodysurf instructions how to use your slyde handplane
Why should I Use A Handboard?

  • Increased speed: allows you to ride further and faster

  • Higher lift out the water means less drag

  • Increased pull into the wave, leading to less missed waves

  • Riding a handboard puts a smile on your face!

learn how to bodysurf why use a handplane how to instructions slyde handboards handplanes for bodysurfing
Why do you guys call it a handboard

handboard, handplane, handgun, handlid, handslide, the list goes on. they are all the same thing and vary dramatically, like surfboards, in size and shape. Check out our article "choosing the right handboard for you," which will take you through choosing the best handboard for you.

Top Tip 1

The rule of thumb with handboards, like surfing the bigger the board the better for beginners

What's the best board for a beginner

learn the basics of how to handboard

what you need to make the most of your handboarding

Top Tip 2

Once you have made sure your handboarding equipment is in perfect working order, It's time to choose where you want to handboard. Choose the best conditions by visiting any one of the surf report sites like Surfline or Magic Seaweed.



The Four Basic Slyde Secrets To learning how to bodysurf using a Handboard

How to Bodysurf Using a Handboard
Insert your dominant hand

Place you dominant hand under the strap.


into the Slyde adjustable hand strap. Ensure your palm is facing down and flat and that the strap fits snug, essentially giving your handboard a high five.

How to Bodysurf Using a Handboard
paddling out to the breaking wave

Wade out to waist deep water, facing the horizon. Lower yourself into the water and put your hand with the handboardoutstretched in front of you. Take the other hand and place over the hand in the strap. With your body outstretched, kick and you will move forward quickly out past the breaking waves or if you are a good swimmer do freestyle stroke with the board in hand, like Chris in the image above.

The handboard keeps you buoyant and the kicking moves you forward. As the wave comes toward you, simply kick under the water and the wave with flow over you. It sounds scary at first but in time you will love the feeling of a wave going over you.

Carefully Pick your wave and start kicking

Once you are in position where the waves are breaking, turn around and face the shore, while keeping your attention on the approaching waves.The technique to catching the wave while you are handboarding is actually very easy. Position the arm with the handboard outstretched in front of you. As the wave rolls towards you, kick hard and use your free arm in a freestyle swim stoke for that extra push. The secret to this part is timing. Too fast and you are out in front of the wave. Too slow and the wave rolls over you.

An awesome costa rican left

Pick a direction, Left or right

At first you will go straight but as you progress you will learn to either go left or right depending on what way the wave is breaking. The forward momentum of the wave will pick you up and carry you with it. Our tip at this point is to "NOT" hesitate. Go for it!. Streamline your body by going as prone as possible, become a human surfboard. Your swim fins are now your rudder and the board is the bow of your ship. Use your handboard to steer the ship and have fun.

Top Tip 3

If you are a complete novice, follow our choosing the right place to bodysurf article to make the best decision when choosing the spot for your session. We also recommend you have a few sessions of learning how tobodysurf without a handboard before you venture in with a Handboard, to get you used to the ocean.

Final thought for the day:

Follow these simple tips and in no time, you will be handboarding like a superhero. So get out there and see how much fun it is. Remember, we are not trying to solve world peace. Just have fun and don't take yourself too seriously.

other great beginner articles

choosing the best bodysurfing fins

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how to hold your breath longer underwater

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The Do's & Don'ts of Bodysurfing Etiquette

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How to avoid rip currents when bodysurfing

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