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PSCo. Tutorials: The Duck Dive

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Welcome to PSCo. Tutorials. Here we teach you fundamental surf skills so that you can learn and improve even when you aren’t in the water. 
In this edition we will be focusing on a technique called  the duck dive that will help you get through breaking waves and out into the line-up. 
No one does it better. When in the water and faced with a breaking wave, ducks will often opt for a graceful dive beneath the surface, and emerge out the other side with ease.
In surfing, the aim of the duck dive is to do just that. An added challenge for us is that we have to sink a very bouyant surfboard underneath us, too.
This motion consists of two stages: Down and Up. The down phase is how you get underneath all the chaos of the wave. The up phase is how you emerge at the other side and resume your paddling.


1. Paddle straight towards the wave, assessing it as it approaches.

2. Time the start of your duckdive for when the lip or whitewash is approximately 1 surfboard length away from you. This may vary in steeper or hollower surf.

3. Lying prone on your board, one foot should be gently pressing on the tail to stop you from rolling too far forward. The other foot should be relaxed and ready to engage.

4. In a continuous motion:
  • Shift your grip towards the nose of the board and lock your arms straight so that your head and shoulders are above the water.
  • As the nose begins to sink, plunge your head and shoulders under water after it.
  • Raise the relaxed leg in the air to create more weight above you.The aim is to sink the tail of the board down to the same depth as the nose
You are now level under water, with the most of the turbulence of the wave passing above you. Remember that you are very bouyant, and will begin to float back up as soon as the downward momentum fades from your initial dive.


We are now in the Up phase of the dive. The goal is to surface nose first and properly alligned on your board to resume paddling. 

  1. Begin to pull the nose of the board towards you as you arch your back and look to the up to the surface. 
  2. Hold on tight to the board as you encounter residual tubulence from the passing wave. Maybe add a kick to power your ascent.
  3. Break the surface nose first.
  4. Re-adjust of you were spun around at all and resume paddling ASAP to gain distance and up for your next duck dive.
The duck dive is a technique that works for low volume boards such as performance shortboards or fishes. Higher volume boards such as midlengths and longboards more bouyant therefore require ther turtle roll techniqe, whcih we will explain in a future tutorial.
Now it’s simply rinse and repeat until you make it out past the break.  Dailling in this technique is all about practice so get out there and do some duck dives!
Blog written by Adam Tory

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