Like any new experience, paddling a bodyboard is a lot harder than it looks.
Getting your body weight in the right position is the key to paddling well. There are three methods of paddling a bodyboard:
With the aid of a pair of reliable swim fins, begin to kick your feet with an even alternating flow. Try keep your legs reasonably stiff and remember to keep your fins submerged because this will give you more thrust than slapping.
It is amazing to see the number of people that handicap themselves in the water by not keeping their fins under the water.
Your body should be slightly back with your waist on the tail of the board and your elbows in a relaxed position with both hands gripping the nose.
As a means of conserving energy it often pays to alternate between arm and leg paddling.
To paddle with your arms it is necessary to slide forward slightly and recentre your bodyweight.
Make sure you wax your board before you try this as otherwise the board will most likely just slide from underneath you.
Arch your back a little and pull yourself through the water using both arms as if you were doing freestyle.
Cup your hands and move your hands in an 'S' shape under the water. Try not to splash too much as this only wastes energy.
Kick and arm power
Combining both kick and arm paddling methods will help when you need to paddle out quickly into the lineups or just give your legs a bit of a rest.
Your body should be in the kick position, slightly back on your board. Instead of arching your back, use your chest to keep the nose of the board down.
There's nothing worse than being caught inside by an approaching set.
The most successful way of paddling through a whitewater lineup is by using a technique called the duckdive.
The idea of the duckdive is to get you and your board underneath the turbulence of a breaking wave.
Once you have the duckdive worked out you will realise how much easier it makes getting out the back.
As the whitewater approaches, grab both rails near to the front of your board with your hands in a tight grip. A metre or so from impact begin to push the nose of your board underneath the surface.
While trying to achieve depth, use your knee (either will do) to help guide the board underneath the turbulence by pushing down with it on your deck.
Once you're underneath the whitewater explosion, begin to push forward in a scooping motion.
As the wave passes overhead, with your knee still in position pull the nose of your board back towards the surface with your hands.
The deeper the dive the more successful it will be and the less chance you will have of being hit by turbulence.
As you return to the surface, lie on your board once again and continue paddling.
You may have noticed that when a wave breaks it looks like it bounces along on the surface of the water. The spots where the water bounces in the air are spots of lower pressure.
When duckdiving under waves it is worth trying to dive under the whitewater in these low pressure spots than high pressure spots.
Having your duckdive coincide with the upward 'bounce' of the whitewater causes the wave to pass more gently over you than subjecting you to large amounts of turbulence.