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8 Reasons You Need Bodyboarding Fins

You’re totally hooked on bodyboarding and now you’re hungry to catch those elusive waves. Bodyboarding fins will help you up your game in the surf!

bodyboarders putting fins on by the beach
Getting fin ready with my mate.

If you’re thinking about getting bodyboarding fins but have no idea where to start or you’re not really 100% convinced you actually need a pair, look no further.

Here’s our ultimate guide about bodyboard fins and why you need to get some.

Helps You Catch Waves

You have improved over time and you’re starting to head out further into the ocean to catch the larger waves. Wearing fins while bodyboarding makes that a much easier process.

In order to ride bigger waves that haven’t broken yet, you need good take off to catch that wave as you need to get in front of it before it breaks on top of you. Wearing bodyboard fins is particularly useful because it gives you the propulsion you require.

Using fins also generates considerable amount of power in the water and it means you will use less energy when you’re catching those big waves.

Imagine yourself in a swimming pool. How many less strokes and how much less time will it take you to swim 50 m with fins on?

The same principle applies in the ocean and if you’re out there all day, being able to save some much-needed energy will help you catch even more waves.

Bodyboarder missing a wave
Missing the wave as he didn’t have the propulsion to swim in front of the break.

Helps You Get Back Out

Have you had those days when you spent more time swimming out to try and catch a wave than actually catching one? Or you’ve been swimming in the one spot for 10 minutes and haven’t moved at all?

Such a frustrating and tiring experience, especially when you can see those amazing waves in front of you that you could have caught!

Wearing bodyboard fins will allow you to get back out to the waves with greater ease. It stops you from losing water position as you are able to power through the wash.

For those who are still learning, the wash is the water between the wave breaks and the wash is difficult to get through because it is moving towards the shore and therefore pushing you back to the beach. Trying to walk or swim against a current is tiring which is why the fins will help.

Unlike surfing, you’re on your stomach on the surfboard. A surfer has to use their arms to paddle out to catch the waves. Imagine how much easier it would be if they used some sort of swim paddle!

Bodyboarders have the luxury of using fins to make this process much easier.

Helps You Duck Dive

Duck diving is an integral part of bodyboarding. Duck diving is a maneuver where you dive under an oncoming wave as you’re heading out.

You continue to swim underwater until the wave surpasses you above on the surface and you swim back up after the wave as gone. The idea is to stop the oncoming wave from pushing you back towards shore as it hits your body.

While this may sound easy enough to do, you have to remember you have a bodyboard under your torso that you have to hold onto.

Duck diving is actually quite a challenging move to tackle. The biggest mistakes occur when you don’t dive deep enough under the rolling and spinning water or you surface too quickly and you get caught up in the current.

So naturally, the best tool you can have in your bodyboarding armour are fins. The fins help you to dive with greater power and can gain greater traction under water and swim further without the risk of surfacing too soon.

The faster you paddle the approaching wave, the easier it is to dive underwater.

Many people wait for the water to come towards them. This would be a rookie error as you won’t get the momentum you need to dive under the wave.

How to duck dive?

As you’re diving, grab the rails on both sides of the bodyboard, stick your elbow in the air.

Then push the nose of your board under the water with your arms straight and then dip your head under the wave. Your fins will help give you the power you need to get under the water.

Hold the bodyboard close to you as you propel yourself under the water with your fins on and then naturally surface up when the wave has broken above you.

Man duck diving under the wave

Taking Advantage of Rips

Stay away from rips if you’re an inexperienced ocean goer and have no understanding of rips. This is only for strong swimmers and you know what you’re doing in the ocean.

A rip is a strong and narrow current of water that is moving away from the shore. It is usually the part of the water where it is calm, devoid of any wave activity and has a darker patch of water.

Essentially, all the water that has come in through waves, has to find a way to get back out. It’s like a river running back into the ocean. As a result of that the current here is the strongest and is dangerous as it drags people out into the ocean.

As a nipper in Australia, kids are actually taught to swim out in the rip so they can learn how to manipulate it and get out of the rip into safe water.

I’m sure you can see where we are going with this. As this is the strongest current that gets you back out in the ocean, it would seem that it’s the easy option rather than swim against the waves.

You don’t need the bodyboarding fins to swim out with the rip but you do need it to exit the rip. A rip ends at some point but in most cases, you will need to exit before that happens so fins will give you the power to do so.

Also, if you do follow the rip to the end, you may end up somewhere less desirable and you need to swim back to the part of the ocean that you’re comfortable with. Essentially, fins will give you better control.

Even if you’re an experienced bodyboarder, we do not recommend you bodyboard in the rips without fins.

man wearing bodyboarding fins on the beach

Improve Your Steering

When trying to catch a wave, you want to be able to have the control to move in the direction you need. You don’t want to be at the mercy of the waves and hope for the best.

Bodyboarding fins can help with your steering with greater precision.

Bodyboarding fins help you steer by acting as a rudder, just like the rudder you’d find on the back of the boat. As you’re trying to read the wave that is coming in, you may have to make slight adjustments along the way so you don’t miss it.

If you need a boost of speed to catch the wave, the fins are extremely useful. An example of a scenario when this may be handy is when you have caught a wave but it hasn’t peaked yet.

For you to ride this wave, you need the power to swim forward so that when it peaks, you’re still in front of it and you’re then able to catch it. If you don’t swim in front of it fast enough, you’ll just be bobbing in an unbroken wave and you would have missed it.

Bodyboard fins are also useful for slowing down. It’s not always about propulsion. In some instances, you may have caught the wave but you’re moving faster than the wave and you end up on the flats too quickly.

If you wish to ride the wave longer or stay in the barrel of the wave, you need to trim some speed off and fins can help you do that.

Apart from trying to catch a wave or performing some tricks, steering is also important when you’re trying to dodge people in crowded waters. It just gives you the added agility to avoid unnecessary crashes.

doing a turn with fins on
Hah! My face! But managed to do a nice turn.

Great for Safety

Even experienced bodyboarders can find themselves in unsavoury scenarios.

From a safety standpoint, fins can help you get out of choppy waters quicker and help you to cross difficult water if the currents or weather changes quickly.

Bodyboarding fins allows you to paddle harder and longer, particularly if you suddenly find yourself really tired or if the surf turns choppy.

bodyboarders putting fins on by the beach

Helps Improve Bodyboarding Skills

Quite simply, the more waves you can catch, the more practice you’ll be able to get. With fins, you will be able to catch so many more waves in the same timeframe as someone without fins.

And by virtue of sheer number of times you’re on your board, you will no doubt get better at a much quicker rate.

If you’re trying to learn to do more tricks, you need to be able to catch the bigger waves which in turn means that he added propulsion and power form the bodyboard fins will help.

Time Saving

If you don’t have a lot of time but you’re itching to just be able to catch a few waves, bodyboarding fins will allow you to move faster and catch them quicker.

This way you’re in and out of the water in no time and still be satisfied you managed to sneak in a couple of hours instead of a whole day.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should bodyboard fins fit?

Your bodyboard fins should fit snugly. If they are too big, the fin will just flap around and you won’t be able to control it. It will just be a hindrance more than a help.

If the fins on the other hand are too tight, it is very uncomfortable. If your feet are curled or they are pressed up too hard against the top or sides, you risk getting a cramp. You may also start chafing if you don’t have any socks or booties on.

How do I use a bodyboard fin?

While it may seem easy to just put on bodyboard fins and off you go, there are a few things you need to know about bodyboard fins that will help you get the most out of them.

When you get to the beach, sit down near the water and slide your foot into the fin and pull the heel strap around your ankle. If you have a fin saver, secure around your ankle too.

Then start walking into the water. To save you from falling on your face, walk as though you are wearing clown shoes. When you reach the water, start walking backwards. Once you get to waist deep water, turn around and lie prone on your bodyboard. Place both your hands on the nose of your board, chest slightly raised and start kicking. You can also paddle and kick at the same time.

How much do bodyboard fins cost?

Fins can range between USD $40 up to USD $100 a pair. A good pair of the Churchill Makapuu fins will set you back around USD $50. A small price to pay for big gains.

Do I need to be a good swimmer to use bodyboard fins?

It is highly advisable that you’re a relatively strong swimmer if you’re going to use bodyboarding fins. It would be safe to assume that you want to use fins because you want to be able to swim out further to catch bigger waves. This will also mean that the water is much deeper. For you to do this, you do have to be a good swimmer or you’re risking not only your life but the people around you should anything happen.

Bodyboard fins do take some getting use to. They are slightly heavy and rigid but like anything, practise makes perfect and soon enough you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them!


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!

22 thoughts on “8 Reasons You Need Bodyboarding Fins”

  1. I never knew that bodyboarders used fins. I just thought they hit the wave on the board. It makes sense, though. They’re not upright on a surfboard that has a bottom fin. Interesting read.

    1. Thanks Ben! Yeah we do use fins but you can bodyboard without them too. But if you want to up your surf game and catch those amazing waves, fins will definitely get you there much quicker.

  2. This is so interesting! I was a competitive swimmer and used them but never thought of using them while bodyboarding.

    1. Yes! We were competitive swimmers too and used them for those early morning, gruelling training sessions. They do the same for bodyboarding and that added propulsion makes all the difference.

  3. blair villanueva

    I haven’t used these bodyboarding fins before. Maybe feels a bit awkward at first to walk but will give a good force while on waters.

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