There is definitely a lot of confusion and myths floating around about what size your bodyboard should be (and a lot of downright bad/false information being given out).
If you are asking yourself any of these questions:
- How tall or long should my bodyboard be?
- Does the bodyboard need to be up to my belly button?
- Do bodyboards need to fit snuggly under my arm wide carrying it?
- How I should choose my bodyboard?
- Where do I find help if I have no idea what I am doing?
You’re in luck. I will be addressing all these questions, dropping some knowledge-bombs and by the end of this post you will have everything you need to know to get the perfect sized board for yourself.
When you go to a place where they sell bodyboard…
Well let me stop right there. If the place sells “boogie boards” you are already in the wrong place if you are looking for a legitimate bodyboard. The places selling “boogie boards” like Walmart, etc are boards for the summer vacationer going to the beach, in contrast, I am talking about some really bodyboard stuff here.
There is nothing wrong with a weekend warrior type or summer enthusiast, but any board will really do in that case.
Surf shops and other places that sell other stuff outside of bodyboarding stuff are okay but that is typically where bad bodyboard size advice/myths flows (out from their ass, usually, due to inexperience).
Bodyboard Size Chart
How tall or long should my bodyboard be?
The above chart is a okay general guideline to follow when picking up your board.
In my overly complicated opinion though, it doesn’t always come down to a chart with numbers to match you with the perfect size board. For example, I am 6’3″ 200 lbs and I should ride about a 42.5 inch board. I say “should” becuase I still ride a 42. If I followed the chart I would be riding a 44″ or 45″ board, which would be way too big and clunky for me.
The board needs to fit your body and preferences. Don’t let dimensions dictate what you should be riding. Instead, try to use different boards of varying sizes and see for yourself which bodyboard size works best for your weight and height.
tall/skinny/light weight – tall, narrow, thin board
tall/average – taller average board
Small waves: taller/bigger board to float better is smaller surf.
Big waves: shorter/thinner board for more control, being able to float on a 10 foot wave is not an issue.
Bodyboard on the shorter side: do you like a bit more squarely/snappy/responsive of a board, more control, less float?
Bodyboard on the shorter side: do you like a bit more float, bigger board that is a little slower/cruiser and less snappy.
Not to say that the chart doesn’t, I just take a much more customized approach to this.
My conclusion and final answer is: Look at the chart, make sure it fits well under your arm, try it out in the water, analyze and refine/correct with your next board. Once you try a few boards and get a decent idea on board shapes, getting a custom bodyboard is a good idea.
Size/Fit Myths & Truths
I heard the bodyboard needs to be up to my belly button
Totally false, but a lot of people spout this advice.
It’s false because is is just too much of a generalization and there are many types of body shapes and sizes. When they say that a bodyboard has to be up to your belly button, how tall is this person that we are measuring against? Measuring up to your belly button leaves a lot of important variables open, so don’t buy a bodyboard simply based on this guideline.
You could be around 15 or 16 years old and sprouting (growing and getting tall be being very skinny) like a lot of guys do and riding a board that goes up to your belly button would be way too big of a board. Or vice versa, your really short and fat and you weigh a lot, you will need a bigger board, that may go over your belly button. I think the tall and skinny scenario happens a lot more often when it comes to this.
You can check the size charts for more exact dimensions for your height and weight, but remember, these measurements are only meant to serve as guides. You have the liberty to explore any type of bodyboard that catches your fancy and matches your riding style.
I heard the bodyboard needs to fit snuggly under my arm wide carrying it
It does, but there is a bit more to it than that. Just like the belly button measurement, this leaves a lot of important variables open. How tall is the person we are measuring against? Taller people can also have much longer arms.
Although, yes it does, it does not mean that that board is the right size just becuase it fits good under your arm. Not every board that fits under your arm is going to be the perfect board for you, but at the same time, it must fit well under your arm and be able to comfortably carry it. If it doesn’t fit under your arm and it is hard to carry it than something is definitely wrong!
To be a bit more specific, fitting well under your arm means your hand comfortably can grab the boards bottom rail. It you cant grab the rail it’s way too big and if there is a big gap from the top rail and your arm pit then it is way too narrow of a board.
It should fit comfortable, snug and easy to carry. This is also a good thing to consider when improving your board-handling skills out of the water. If your bodyboard is not easy to carry, chances are you’ll drop it often, which makes it prone to surface dings and dents. Not being able to carry your bodyboard under your arm will also make you look like you’re not confident. Boost your image by feeling comfortable when you are carrying your bodyboard.
My local surf shot told me this or that about how I should choose my bodyboard
Does that person bodyboard? If not, how would he/she know?
That is why it is good to go to a bodyboard only shop or website. The staff and owner are always hardcore bodyboarders who live and breathe this stuff. Their advice would be sound. The surfboard shop with a few boogie boards in the back probably isn’t.
Let’s face it, only someone who bodyboards well, or someone who has been bodyboarding for a really long time will be able to provide advice that is genuine, effective, and personalized to your skill level. Experience is the best teacher.
At the end of the day, only you can truly say which size of bodyboard will work best for you. After all, you’re the one who’s going to ride the bodyboard, not anyone else.