What is Bodyboarding?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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A water sport that is somewhat similar to surfing, bodyboarding is an activity that involves riding waves while positioned in a prone position. In some competitions, the participant may also ride the board in a partially standing position, with one knee touching the surface of the board. There are also a few stances that allow the bodyboarding enthusiast to ride the board in a standing position.

The bodyboard is a lightweight rectangular shaped section of foam that is reinforced with one or two carbon rods, sometimes referred to as stringers. The sturdier foam is covered with a plastic coating along the bottom, and a second layer of softer foam on the topside of the board. Bodyboards are usually less than half the size of the standard surfboard, making them much easier to transport.

While there are examples of devices used for bodyboarding that date back for centuries, the modern bodyboard was developed by Tom Morey in the early 1970’s. Originally marketed by a toy company, the bodyboard was an immediate success. For most of the decade, the original design was often referred to as a Boogie Board.


Bodyboarding is essentially about catching a wave and riding it to the shore. Unlike surfing, which requires wide powerful waves, bodyboarding can be enjoyed wherever there are waves that are somewhat tube-like in nature. The board is usually ridden by lying stomach down on the board, although there are a number of competitive moves that require other positions.

While many of the locations that are ideal for surfing are not necessarily suited for bodyboarding, there are a number of spots around the world where bodyboarding is a popular pastime. Such diverse locations as the United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil, and Spain have a number of areas that offer excellent bodyboarding conditions. Competitions are held year round, with many long-term bodyboarding enthusiasts competing in multiple contests each year. As with any form of water sports events, bodyboarding competitions include tests of strength, agility, style, and form. Some of the contests are geared more toward amateurs, while a few competitions cater more to advanced bodyboarders.


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