Looking to improve your hand surfing skills? Check out these expert tips and tricks to catch the perfect wave and ride it like a pro. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, these tips will help you take your hand surfing game to the next level. Get ready to hang ten and feel the rush of the ocean with these essential hand surfing tips.

What is Hand Surfing and How Does it Differ from Regular Surfing?

The Origin of Hand Surfing

Hand surfing, also known as handboarding or handplaning, is a unique water sport that involves riding waves with just your hands. The origins of this sport can be traced back to the ancient Hawaiians who used wooden handboards to ride waves. Today, modern hand surfers use specially designed boards made of foam or other lightweight materials.

Differences Between Hand Surfing and Regular Surfing

While both sports involve riding waves, there are some key differences between hand surfing and regular surfing. For one, hand surfers do not use their feet to control the board, relying solely on their upper body strength and balance. Additionally, because hand surfers are closer to the water’s surface than regular surfers, they are able to catch smaller waves that might not be suitable for traditional surfing.

Another difference is the size of the boards used in each sport. Hand surfboards are much smaller than regular surfboards, typically measuring around 18-24 inches in length. This allows for greater maneuverability and control when riding waves with just your hands.

Benefits of Hand Surfing

One major benefit of hand surfing is that it can be done in a variety of conditions, including small or crowded waves where regular surfing may not be possible. Additionally, because it requires less equipment and setup time than traditional surfing, it can be a more accessible option for those who want to get out on the water quickly.

Overall, while hand surfing may not replace traditional surfing for many enthusiasts, it offers a fun and unique way to experience the thrill of riding waves.

Basic Safety Tips for Hand Surfing

Wear Protective Gear

As with any water sport, it is important to wear protective gear while hand surfing. This can include a wetsuit, fins, and a leash to keep your board attached to your wrist in case of a wipeout. Additionally, wearing a helmet can provide extra protection for your head and neck.

Know Your Limits

While it can be tempting to push yourself to catch bigger waves or try more advanced maneuvers, it is important to know your limits as a hand surfer. Start with smaller waves and work your way up gradually as you gain experience and confidence.

Be Aware of Other Surfers

Hand surfing may not be as popular as traditional surfing, but it is still important to be aware of other surfers in the water. Always give right of way to other surfers who are on the wave before you attempt to catch it yourself.

Stay Hydrated

Spending time in the sun and saltwater can quickly dehydrate your body, so it is important to bring plenty of water with you when hand surfing. Consider investing in a hydration pack that you can wear on your back while you ride waves.


By following these basic safety tips, you can help ensure that your day of hand surfing is both fun and safe.

Choosing the Right Board for Hand Surfing

Consider Your Skill Level

When choosing a hand surfboard, it is important to consider your skill level as a surfer. Beginners may want to start with a larger board that offers more stability and control, while more experienced surfers may prefer smaller boards that allow for greater maneuverability.

Pick the Right Shape

The shape of your hand surfboard can also have an impact on how well it performs in the water. Boards with wider tails tend to offer more stability, while those with narrower tails are better suited for more advanced maneuvers.

Choose the Right Materials

Hand surfboards can be made from a variety of materials, including foam, wood, and plastic. Foam boards tend to be the most popular choice as they are lightweight and durable, but wooden boards can offer a more traditional feel for those who prefer it.


By considering these factors when choosing a hand surfboard, you can find one that is best suited to your individual needs and preferences.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Learning to Hand Surf

Relying Too Much on Your Arms

One common mistake that beginners make when learning to hand surf is relying too much on their arms to control the board. Instead, focus on using your entire body to maintain balance and control while riding waves.

Not Keeping Your Eyes on the Horizon

Another mistake is failing to keep your eyes on the horizon while riding waves. This can make it difficult to anticipate changes in wave conditions or other surfers in the water.

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Failing to Paddle Out Properly

Proper paddling technique is essential for getting out into the lineup and catching waves. Make sure you are using your legs and core muscles as well as your arms when paddling out.


By avoiding these common mistakes, you can improve your hand surfing skills and have a more enjoyable experience on the water.

Improving Your Balance and Stability While Hand Surfing

Practice Yoga or Pilates

Yoga and Pilates are great ways to improve your overall balance and stability, which can translate into better performance while hand surfing. Focus on poses that challenge your core strength and balance, such as tree pose or warrior III.

Use a Balance Board

Using a balance board can help you improve your stability and control while off the water. Try standing on a balance board for a few minutes each day to build up your core muscles and improve your overall balance.

Focus on Your Breathing

Proper breathing can help you stay calm and focused while riding waves. Practice deep breathing exercises before and during your hand surfing sessions to help center yourself and maintain focus.


By incorporating these tips into your training routine, you can improve your balance and stability both on and off the water.

Key Techniques for Catching Waves While Hand Surfing

Paddle Out Efficiently

Efficient paddling is key to getting out into the lineup quickly and catching waves before they break. Use a combination of arm strokes, leg kicks, and core muscles to paddle out smoothly.

Position Yourself Correctly

Positioning yourself correctly in the lineup can make all the difference when it comes to catching waves. Look for areas where waves are breaking consistently, then position yourself just outside of that area so you can catch waves as they come through.

Time Your Takeoff Properly

Timing is everything when it comes to catching waves. Wait until the wave begins to lift you up before attempting to catch it, then use your arms to drive yourself forward as you ride down the face of the wave.


By mastering these key techniques, you can increase your chances of catching more waves while hand surfing.

Controlling Speed and Direction While Hand Surfing

Use Your Body Weight to Turn

To turn while riding a wave, shift your body weight in the direction you want to go. This will help you carve a smooth turn without losing speed or control.

Lean Forward to Increase Speed

Leaning forward on your board can help you pick up speed while riding a wave. This technique is especially useful when trying to catch up with a wave that is beginning to break.

Slow Down by Dragging Your Hand

If you need to slow down while riding a wave, drag your hand in the water behind you. This will create drag and slow you down without sacrificing control or balance.


By mastering these techniques for controlling speed and direction, you can become a more skilled and confident hand surfer.

Advanced Maneuvers for Experienced Hand Surfers

Air Drops

An air drop involves dropping down onto the face of a wave from an elevated position, such as the top of a steep wave or the crest of a barrel. This maneuver requires precise timing and coordination, but can result in an impressive ride if executed correctly.


Riding inside the barrel of a breaking wave, also known as getting tubed, is one of the most challenging and rewarding maneuvers in hand surfing. To successfully ride inside the tube, you must maintain speed and control while navigating through the narrow space between the curling lip of the wave and its surface.


A cutback involves making a sharp turn back towards the breaking part of the wave after riding along its face. This maneuver requires quick reflexes and good timing in order to execute smoothly.


These advanced maneuvers require skill, practice, and experience, but can add an exciting new dimension to your hand surfing repertoire.

The Importance of Fitness and Flexibility for Successful Hand Surfing

Build Core Strength

A strong core is essential for maintaining balance and control while hand surfing. Incorporate exercises like planks, sit-ups, and leg raises into your workout routine to build up your core muscles.

Stretch Regularly

Flexibility is also important for successful hand surfing. Make sure you are stretching regularly, focusing on areas like your hips, shoulders, and back that can become tight from paddling and riding waves.

Include Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise can help build endurance and improve overall fitness levels, which can translate into better performance while hand surfing. Try activities like running or cycling to improve your cardiovascular health.

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By focusing on fitness and flexibility as part of your training routine, you can become a stronger, more capable hand surfer.

The Best Waves for Hand Surfing and Why

Small Waves

Hand surfers are able to catch smaller waves than traditional surfers because they do not require as much speed or power to ride. Look for small waves that are breaking consistently in order to maximize your ride time.

Clean Waves

Clean waves with minimal chop or turbulence are ideal for hand surfing because they allow for smoother rides with greater control. Avoid areas with strong currents or crosswinds that can make it difficult to maintain stability.

Sloping Waves

Sloping waves that break gradually rather than steeply are easier to ride for hand surfers because they provide a longer window of opportunity to catch the wave and ride it out.


By seeking out these types of waves when hand surfing, you can increase your chances of having a successful and enjoyable session on the water.

Reading Ocean Conditions to Find the Best Spots for Hand Surfing

Check the Swell Direction

The direction of the swell can have a big impact on wave conditions and quality. Look for areas where the swell is coming in at an angle that will create clean, consistent waves.

Check the Tides

Tide levels can also affect wave conditions, with some spots offering better waves at high tide while others are better at low tide. Check local tide charts to find the best times to surf in your area.

Look for Wind Protection

Areas that are sheltered from strong winds can offer smoother, cleaner waves that are easier to ride. Look for coves or other protected areas where wind is less likely to disrupt wave conditions.


By paying attention to these ocean conditions and factors, you can identify the best spots for hand surfing in your local area.

Gear Needed for a Successful Day of Hand Surfing

Hand Surfboard

A hand surfboard is essential for this sport. Choose one that is appropriately sized and shaped for your skill level and preferences.


Fins help provide stability and control while riding waves. Look for fins that are designed specifically for hand surfing.


A wetsuit will keep you warm and comfortable in cold water conditions. Choose one that fits well and provides adequate insulation based on the water temperature.


By investing in quality gear, you can ensure a more enjoyable and successful day of hand surfing.

Caring for Your Board and Equipment After a Session of Hand Surfing

Rinse Your Board with Freshwater

After each session, rinse your board thoroughly with freshwater to remove salt buildup and prevent damage to the board’s materials.

Store Your Board Properly

When not in use, store your board in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Avoid leaving it in areas where it may be exposed to extreme temperatures or moisture.

Check and Replace Equipment as Needed

Regularly check your equipment, including fins and leashes, for signs of wear and tear. Replace any damaged equipment as needed to ensure safety and performance while hand surfing.


By taking proper care of your board and equipment, you can extend their lifespan and ensure optimal performance on the water.

Environmental Concerns and Ethical Considerations Related to Hand Surfing

Respect Local Wildlife

Hand surfers should always respect local wildlife and marine ecosystems. Avoid disturbing or harming marine life while riding waves.

Avoid Crowded Areas

Hand surfing can be done in smaller waves that may not be suitable for traditional surfing. Avoid crowded areas where other surfers may be present to reduce the risk of collisions or other accidents.

Follow Local Regulations

Be aware of any local regulations or guidelines related to hand surfing. These may include restrictions on certain areas or times when hand surfing is allowed.


By being mindful of environmental concerns and ethical considerations, hand surfers can help protect our oceans and enjoy this unique sport responsibly.

Finding Resources and Communities

Finding Resources and Communities to Connect with Other Enthusiasts of This Unique Sport

Joining Online Forums and Social Media Groups

One of the easiest ways to connect with other enthusiasts of this unique sport is by joining online forums and social media groups. These platforms offer a space for individuals from all over the world to come together, share their experiences, ask questions, and learn from one another. Some popular online forums include Reddit’s r/ultimate, USA Ultimate’s forum, and Ultiworld’s forum. Additionally, there are several Facebook groups dedicated to ultimate frisbee where you can connect with other players.

Attending Local Tournaments and Leagues

Another great way to connect with other players is by attending local tournaments and leagues. Many cities have recreational or competitive leagues that welcome players of all skill levels. Attending these events not only allows you to play the sport you love but also provides an opportunity to meet new people who share your passion for ultimate frisbee.

Participating in Clinics and Workshops

If you’re looking to improve your skills while connecting with other players, participating in clinics and workshops is a great option. Many coaches and experienced players offer clinics on various aspects of the game, such as throwing techniques or defensive strategies. These events not only provide valuable learning opportunities but also allow you to meet like-minded individuals who are interested in improving their game.

Volunteering at Events

Finally, volunteering at events such as tournaments or youth clinics can be a great way to meet other enthusiasts while giving back to the ultimate frisbee community. Volunteering often involves working alongside others who share your passion for the sport and can lead to lasting friendships within the community.

In summary, there are several ways to find resources and communities that allow you to connect with other enthusiasts of this unique sport. Joining online forums and social media groups, attending local tournaments and leagues, participating in clinics and workshops, and volunteering at events are all great options to consider. By taking advantage of these opportunities, you can not only improve your skills but also build lasting relationships within the ultimate frisbee community.

In conclusion, hand surfing is a thrilling water sport that requires practice and patience. Remember to keep your body relaxed, use your core strength, and always be aware of your surroundings. If you’re looking for high-quality surf gear and accessories, check out our products! Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions or need expert advice. Happy surfing!


How do you body surf with a handplane?

To go out into waist-deep water, face the horizon and lower yourself into the water. Extend one hand with a handboard in front of you and place your other hand over it, securing it with a strap. Stretch your body out and kick, and you will move swiftly past the waves.

What is the hardest thing to do in surfing?

Getting out into the water is often considered the most challenging aspect of surfing. Depending on the conditions, paddling out can range from easy to extremely physically demanding.

Is it OK to not shower after surfing?

If you don’t rinse, research has indicated that after six hours, the natural balance of bacteria on your skin starts to return to its pre-swimming state. If you have a weakened immune system or an open wound, there is a higher chance of infection as marine organisms can come into contact with your skin and body, leading to infection if not treated.

Does surfing tone your arms?

It Works out the Upper Body The triceps, biceps, deltoids and your core muscles (trapezius, rectus abdominis, latissimus dorsi and obliques) all kick in when you’re reaching towards that bomb of a wave coming towards you.May 13, 2020

Do you lean forward when surfing?

To perform the lean technique, begin by standing with your feet together. Slowly lean forward as if you were falling. The foot that you instinctively move forward to prevent yourself from falling will be the foot that you place in the front of the surfboard. This determines whether you are a regular or goofy-footed surfer. This technique was last updated on January 23, 2023.

How do you train your arms for surfing?

Begin by lying down with your legs and head facing down and holding a dumbbell by your chest with one hand. Keep your body in this position as you extend your arm holding the dumbbell forward and retract your opposite arm in a paddling motion. Repeat this surf strength exercise for the other arm.