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Parts of A Bodyboard: Ultimate Guide

If bodyboarding is becoming a constant in your life, it is important to get to know the anatomy of your bodyboard both to improve your skill set and for when you want to purchase one. Learning all the jargon will help you as you understand how each part works in unison with another.

Woman on the beach going bodyboarding

We often get asked what one should look out for when buying a bodyboard. To make the best decision possible, you have to learn about the anatomy of the bodyboard. Understanding what each part of a bodyboard is called, it’s function and how it will impact your bodyboarding experience, will help you buy the best bodyboard to suit your needs.

I’m sure you have walked into bodyboarding shops or even when you’re online shopping and you’ve become overwhelmed with the sheer number of bodyboards available.

This happened to us and without understanding a thing about bodyboard parts, reading the specs was like speaking in a different tongue!

Another reason why you should get to know the different parts of the bodyboard is because you simply need to get to know the lingo.

As you progress onto becoming a better bodyboarder, you’ll start watching YouTube videos, reading discussion forums and blog posts. Often the expert will start using bodyboard terms which you will need to grasp if you intend to improve.

Let’s get to know your bodyboard.

Bodyboard Deck

The deck is the top side of the board.

This is where you lay on while you ride the waves. Different deck construction can have an impact on the grip of the board. This is the part of the bodyboard where you apply wax if you feel you need it. Learn more about bodyboard waxing.

Most bodyboard decks are made from Polyethylene. Some of the entry level boards have a deck made from a slightly different material which tends to be stiffer and has a sheen to it that can be quite slippery in the water and may need some wax.

Bodyboard deck
The side that we lie on. The criss cross marks is where I wax the bodyboard.

Bodyboard Slick

The slick is the smooth bottom surface of the board and is designed to slide along the water surface.

The underside of most bodyboards are made from a copolymer resin called Surlyn. It is designed to be smooth and flexible so that it can reduce the drag in the water.

This essentially means to ride through the possible friction from the water so you can bodyboard faster.

Some entry level boards have slicks made from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) which offers strength and is lightweight which is great for kid’s boards.

Bodyboard slick
Notice how shiny and smooth it is on the under side? Great for riding waves!

Bodyboard Channels

Channels are indentations on the bottom of the board.

These indentations on the slick of the bodyboard are usually found towards the back of the board.

They are designed to increase control of the board during manoeuvres by increasing the underside surface area and controlling the flow of water through the channels.

If you are starting out in the sport, channels are not necessary, however as you get into more advanced bodyboarding and want to catch larger waves you will start to feel the difference in handling that channels provide.

Bodyboard channels
Notice the indentation on the slick side? That whole thing is the channel.

Bodyboard Nose

The nose is the front or top end of the bodyboard.

When you’re riding a wave, you would typically have one hand holding the nose and the other hand holding the side of the bodyboard (the rail, see below).

With one hand holding the nose of the bodyboard, you will often find that it contains small bulbs or indentations on the underside.

These small bumps are designed to give you more grip, which is important as it will help you manoeuvre the bodyboard in the direction it needs to go.

Bodyboard nose
See how I’m able to get a good grip on the nose where the bulb is?

Bodyboard Tail

The tail is the back end of the bodyboard.

The tail of the board helps provide stability on the wave.

You’ll find that there are 2 basic shapes that the tail comes in. There is the crescent shape of the bat tail.

The bodyboard bat tail was designed to give the board slightly more surface area and therefore more control during advanced manoeuvres. When you are starting out either crescent or bat tail will do the trick.

Bodyboard nose and tail

Bodyboard Rails

The rails are the sides of the board that you use to steer the board.

As mentioned in the bodyboard nose section above, when you’re riding a wave, you would have one hand holding the top of the bodyboard and the other hand holding the side of the bodyboard.

The bodyboard rail is made up of 2 angled sections.

The rail is the bottom part that runs through the water and the chine is the top section closer to the deck.

Most boards are usually built with a 50/50 or 60/40 spilt, with the first number representing the rail and the second the chine.

More rail means more connection with the water and more control.

Most casual bodyboard riders won’t notice the difference between the two configurations.

However, when you become more skilled in the water, the difference in the split will become much more noticeable.

Bodyboard rails
This is how I get the bodyboard to go where I want it to go.

Bodyboard Core

This is the internal section of the board.

The type of core can have a significant effect on the ride of the bodyboard by offering different levels of flex and floatation.

Understanding what core would suit you best can get a bit technical but let’s go ahead and tackle it!

Basically, all cores are made from compressed foam. The three most common are expanded Polystyrene core (EPS), Polyethylene (PE) which is the most common and Polypropylene (PP) cores.

EPS – Expanded Polystyrene Core

EPS is the entry level core and is great for kids that like to ride waves that have already broken and not stop until they are on the sand.

They are lightweight, very buoyant, and stiff and will be the cheapest boards available. These types of boards often come in bright colours and branded patterns, which your kids will love.

PE – Polyethylene

PE is the more common type of core and is great for beginners who want to start catching unbroken waves.

These boards offer great flex and therefor are easier to control. They also tend to be heavier as they take on water and have a softer more comfortable feel to them.

With more flex, PE cores are suitable to colder waters

PP – Polypropylene

PP cores are lightweight and have a stiffer design owing to the higher density of the foam.

These boards will offer more speed and lend themselves well to warmer waters but beginners may find them more difficult to control than the flexible PE boards.

PP cores tend to last longer than the other cores, as they are less likely to lose their original shape than the softer PE cores

More recently there are new types of cores appearing on the market, which offer a blend of both PE and PP. These are called Dual core or 3D cores and offer some of the benefits of both cores.

Also, low density PP cores which allow more flex than in a traditional PP core without losing too much speed

To make matters more confusing, the different brands tend to have different names for the same type of core!

We suggest that you decide for yourself based on level of expertise and what you want to get out of your bodyboarding experience in the future, as to which core would suit you best.

Bodyboard Stringer

This is a solid shaft usually made from carbon, graphite or filament composite fibre tubing, which runs through the core of the bodyboard.

The stringer gives it stiffness and better torsion control out of turns and performing manoeuvres.

Generally, bodyboards will have a single stringer, however some come with 2 and even 3 stringers. As a general rule, the more stringers, the stiffer the board will be.

If you are beginning in the sport and want a softer, rigid ride for example, look for a PE core with double stringer.

If you want more flex, go for a PE core with a single stringer.

As you progress you might prefer a harder faster PP core with a single stringer as you get the added stiffness from the core material without needing a second stringer.

The more flex a board has, the more manoeuvrable it will be in most conditions. Less flex in a board, results in a faster ride.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size bodyboard should I get?

There are 2 ways you can size a bodyboard. Placing your bodyboard upright, you can measure it from your belly button to the ground or from your chin to your knees. Either of these methods will work.

Don’t get bodyboards that are too small for you and you have too much leg not supported by the bodyboard. This just creates additional drag and will slow you down.How to measure what size bodyboard to buy

What’s the best bodyboard to get for kids?

With so many different types of bodyboards you can get on the market these days, it can get very confusing. The best way to work out what bodyboard to buy for your kids is to take into consideration a few factors.

These include the skill level of your child, budget, how often will you bodyboard, what the bodyboard is made of, some bodyboarding accessories you may want to consider etc.. To help you make an informed decision, our Best Kids Bodyboard To Buy article give you a detailed breakdown.

Do I have to buy the best bodyboard on the market?

This questions depends on what you want to get out of this sport. If you’re addicted, have access to the surf on a regular basis and want to be able to catch the big waves and learn to do tricks, then the answer is yes. Not all bodyboards are created equal so investing in a good bodyboard is investing in your skill set.

If however you’re only bodyboarding a few times in a year and it’s only for fun, you don’t need the best bodyboard. It is however still prudent to get a semi decent one so that you can have a good experience. Cheap foam boards won’t give you the thrill you’re after and if you can only get in the water once in a while, you want to get the most out of it.

If you take care of your bodyboard, it will last for years. Investing in a good bodyboard is never a waste.

Do I need to bodyboard with fins?

Bodyboard fins are useful because it gives you power. We outline in detail Reasons You Need Bodyboard Fins and it may help you decide if you need them.

If you want to head far out into the deeper parts of the ocean, you will need fins to get you there. It is exhausting otherwise. Fins also give you the propulsion you may require to catch a wave as otherwise it may just break over you as you can’t get the right momentum.

If you will always stay in the shallower parts of the water and you’re not intending to ever catch the bigger waves, then bodyboarding without fins is perfectly ok. Especially true if you’re also a strong swimmer and you can generate enough power from paddling.

You definitely don’t need them if you’re in very shallow water and you’re just bodyboarding your way right up to the beach.

If you’ve ever thought that a bodyboard was nothing but a simple foam board you chucked the kids on and off they went, you’re not alone!

Like any sport, advances in equipment mean you’re able to perfect your water sport skill tremendously while still being able to cater towards your needs.

Don’t let all this terminology overwhelm you. Read this article a few times to really get to know your bodyboard and you’ll be surprised how those specs will become easier to digest.

If you’re serious about your bodyboarding, no sense in wasting money on a bodyboard that’s not going to serve your needs.

Here are some of the best bodyboards in the market today.


bodyboard101.com Amy and Andrew at the beach

We’re Andrew & Amy and we are a small blended family that love to bodyboard! We’re here to share everything we know to help you with your bodyboarding adventure as a beginner, with your family or if you’re transitioning onto intermediate level. Let’s go!

24 thoughts on “Parts of A Bodyboard: Ultimate Guide”

    1. To be honest, I did too! LOL. But then when I finally had to purchase one, I got so overwhelmed with all the different ones that we had to find a way to work out what was best for us. Hence all this research.

    1. Right? I had no idea too until I had to go and buy one and there were so many to choose from! I got so overwhelmed. Thought I better learn more about them before I spend my money!

  1. What an extensive guide to know more about a bodyboard! And it just hit me how I miss bodyboarding and living close to the ocean.

  2. WOW !! I had no clue there was so much in a bodyboard! this has been quiet informative looking forward to more such post

    1. Thanks! Glad you found it informative. Yup, a lot sure goes into it. Which is why we put this post together so that everyone has just one place to refer to for this info.

    1. Thanks Cinny! I didn’t know it either until I did all the research. Helps to know what they are called too because when I watch You Tube videos and they use all this terminology, I now get it. Before it was like a different language!

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