If you love water sports but aren't quite up to surfing the waves, a boogie board might be just for you. Although there are techniques and tricks to master, boogie boarding tends to be less challenging than surfing. Boogie boards, or body boards, are typically smaller than a surfboard and are made of thick plastic or foam. Instead of standing on top of the board, boogie boarders lie down on top and let the waves carry them to shore -- a thrilling ride you won't want to miss.
Boogie boarding will require you to use muscles you may not be used to exercising. It is important to stay limber to avoid straining a muscle and to keep you flexible for a fall. Implement a stretching routine into your daily schedule, and stretch at the beach before you begin. Focus your stretches on your back, legs and core muscles. Eat a balanced and nutritious diet and stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle on hand and continue to hydrate even if you don't feel thirsty while in the water. Stay focused and positive as you begin body boarding, visualizing tricks before you try them.
How to Ride
To get on the board, begin by swimming out to a little beyond the point where the waves are breaking. You should still be able to touch the ground. Slide onto the board, gripping it with your hands, with the majority of your torso -- your chest, stomach and thighs -- on the board. Keep your head up and wait for a wave. Begin paddling with your hands and kicking with your legs just as the wave begins to break. Ride the wave all the way to shore, using your arms to steer the front of the board, if necessary.
If you are a beginner, you should start with some basic maneuvers before trying more complicated tricks. The "bottom turn" is a good move to learn as it is the foundation for other tricks. Lean to one side and ride the wave on a turn to perform this move. You can also try a "cut back" simply by turning to one side and riding sideways on the crest of a wave and then turning back to face the center. Another basic trick is to kneel on your board with one leg, with your other leg bent at the knee but upright. This move is called "drop knee riding."
Once you have mastered some basic moves and have some experience on the board, you may be ready for some more difficult maneuvers. To perform a "back flip," ride up the wave and flip to land facing the wave. You can also do a "front flip" in the same manner, but by flipping forward. For some excitement, try to get some "air." Ride up into a wave, letting the crest of the wave lift you into the air, and try to land in front of the wave. Eventually you can try to do an "air 360" by spinning completely around once you are up in the air. The "air 360 reverse" is even more difficult, as you must spin in the opposite direction of your momentum.
Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.