• bodysurfing handplanes by slyde handboards

How to bodysurf using a Handboard

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Got some questions about using your handboard?

This is a comprehensive guide on how to Body surf using a Handboard. Body surfing is one thing but using a handboard or Handboard while bodysurfing is another. It is not difficult but as you will come to realize there are a few tips and tricks to getting your technique just right and this is the place to find them




slyde handboards handplanes learn how to bodysurf using a  handplane wlly cole rider


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. This article will focus on how to bodysurf while using a Handboard.

slyde handboards handplanes for bodysurfing paul watts  shows us how to bodysurf using a handplane

The Benefits

Bodysurfing with a handplane as illustrated by long time Australian 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 Use A Handboard? 

  • Increased speed: make that section, pull into the barrel and get pitted

  • Higher lift out the water means less drag

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

  • Puts a smile on your dial!

learn how to bodysurf ? why use a handplane how to instructions slyde handboards handplanes for bodysurfing


handboard, handplane, handgun, handlid, handslide, the list goes on.  they are all the same thing and vary dramatically, like surfboards, in size and shape. as a side note, in the interest of getting you set up with the best possible handboard, we will be following this article up with a "choosing the right handboard for you," which will take you through choosing the best handboard for you.

Top Tip 1

You only need 1 (one):  in the interest of education, you only require one (1) handboard. Although, it might be an interesting experiment to try  Anyone want to give it a go?

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. We recommend Surfline, as their mobile app is awesome for checking your favorite spots on the fly.

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

how to bodysurf using handplane  hand placement instructions

Insert your dominate

  1. hand under the strap (right if you are right handed, left if you are left handed) 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 5). 

how to bodysurf using a handplane getting out to the break

Getting out to the break.

  1. Wade out to waist deep water, facing the horizon.  Lower yourself into the water and put your hand with the handboard outstretched 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. Once you are in position where the waves are breaking, turn around and face the shore, while keeping your attention on the approaching waves. Getting out to the break is a lot easier with a Handboard.  By placing the board out in front of you and kicking, the board keeps you buoyant and the kicking moves you forward.  As the wave comes toward you, simply kick forward under the water and the wave with flow over you.

Pick your wave and go

  1. The technique to catching the wave while you are handboarding / handplaning is essentially the same technique as catching the wave while bodysurfing without a Handboard.  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. Once you get used to it you will find you will use the freestyle stroke less and less as you learn to judge the waves better. 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.
this quick footage is a great example of getting into position for the wave. it shows paul paddling into position using both the hand with the board in it and the free hand in a freestyle stroke. the board actually helps when swimming. it increases the surface area of the hand

how to bodysurf using a handplane donnie brink shows us how on a small wave

Pick a line, Left or right

  1. Surfer talk for pick which direction you are going to go.  Right or left?  Straight is never a good idea.  Do it once on a decent sized wave and you won’t again. Remember, Handboards and handboards can go either right or left;  they are ambidextrous. Pick right or left depending on which way wave is breaking and you will get a much longer pitted ride. the forward momentum of the wave will pick you up and carry you with it.  At this point you've picked your line, and now it’s the point of no return so don't hesitate.  Go for it!  Stop stroking.  Streamline your body and keep kicking down to a minimum.  Become a human surfboard. Your fins are now your rudder and the board is the bow of your ship.   Angle your handboard across face of the wave to allow for longer Slyde time.  At this point there are various option for the free arm.  Leave it out to hang free, or my personal preference, bring it over to lay on top of the hand in the strap as illustrated in the image.   This  image shows Donnie Brink  choosing a great line to get well barreled.  Another stoked day at the office 

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 to bodysurf without a handboard before you venture in with a Handboard, to get you used to the ocean. 

Final thought for the day: 

Jerry Springer style.  Follow these five simple tips and in no time, you will be handboarding like a superhero.  So get out there and see what all the fuss is about!  Remember, we are not trying to solve world peace.  Just have fun and don't take yourself too seriously.


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