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Bodyboards Skimboards Kneeboards Swimboards Kickboards Surfboards - What Are the Differences

Love water recreation and desire more fun and more toys from this great wet environment? Ever wonder what a skimboard is in comparison to a bodyboard, a kneeboard, a surfboard, or a kick board. Do you know what a boogie board is? Want to hear more about an innovative swim board called EZ Swimmer? Wish to see a new and exclusive balance ball movement available in the swimming pool called the Sea Horse? All this and more will be discussed in this article including a comparison chart that details the approximate price, equipment and skill needed to successfully use each of these water recreation tools.

Many Benefits of Water Sports

The beauty of water sports is the natural serenity and many wonders of water. Yet the greatest benefit is water sports are suitable for all ages. Water sports can be fun and relaxing. Water sports are not just for the open water and waves and/or a motorboat. Water sports cans be just as inviting in the swimming pool. As more equipment becomes available new opportunities for relaxation and challenge are sure to increase the popularity of water sports. This is a dynamic environment and one which will prove to be fun to watch in the coming years. To get you started let's review the history and culture of water sports, the different types of equipment on the market and end in a summary of the many differences in needed skill level and equipment.

The Classic Woody with the Surf Board on Top as a Trophy

The car now best known as the woody, named in honor of its distinctive wood paneling. Shown here carrying a surf board on its roof - almost as a trophy in celebration of the surfing industry.

The car now best known as the woody, named in honor of its distinctive wood paneling. Shown here carrying a surf board on its roof - almost as a trophy in celebration of the surfing industry.

Surf Music

Water Sport Culture

The world of water sports is highly desired and sought after and rightfully so - fun in the sun - what could be better? Yet, an entire culture has been created. From cars that showcase the surfboard almost as a trophy (the classic woody with the surf board on top) to surfing music to the extensive array of movies about surfing. Yet not all of us are well suited to afford either financially or physical access to the waves. North America sports one of the greatest places in the world for surfing. Australia is another continent that offers the natural waves and numerous locations renown for surfing and water sports.

Cars and Clothing - Water Sports Impact

From the vehicle to carry the long surf board which came to be known as the woodie (the station wagon with a wooden exterior that was designed to carry on its rooftop a surf board as shown above) to the clothing that is distinctively a surfer, body boarder - the protective rash guard shirts that also offer sun protection, and board shorts that are bright in color and design and long for athletic comfort. Water sports is a way of life, a sub-culture of the United States. No other sport transcends our culture in the way that water sports has, no other sport has created a sub-culture uniquely their own.

Water Sports and Beyond the Waves

Water sports is more than just the surf waves. It is also about sports equipment for use with boating and swimming pools. The categories and the terms and variety are very diverse. Combine the diversity with the skill level and expense and the water sports for the landlubber can really be confusing.

Water Sports Supreme Locations - California and Hawaii

The surfing/water sport culture is predominantly in California and Hawaii, although Florida is starting to take note of this great industry. California and Hawaii offer the best surfing conditions and the most numerous in the world. One report showed 265 surfing locations in North America and Australia was somewhere in the 70's.

Surf Board Parts

Colorful Diagram of Surf Board Parts

Colorful Diagram of Surf Board Parts

Surf Boards and Swim Boards and The Many Varieties and Sizes

Within the world of surfing, there is surfing and there is also windsurfing. There is also tow-surfing and wake surfing. The ultimate among the experts is said to be body surfing, the riding of the waves with no equipment whatsoever. As you can see even within surfing, there is quite a variety of options.

Tow-In Surfing

Tow-in surfing was pioneered in the 1990s with personal watercraft and is type of surfing that takes the surfer out further into the water to catch faster moving waves rather than paddling out by hand. Later helicopter surfing emerged as another variety of tow-in surfing.

Big Wave Surfing

Big wave surfing is a type of surfing where elite surfers paddle into or are towed onto waves that exceed 20 feet high. Surf board designed for this type of wave are typically known as "guns" or "rhino chasers".

Wind Surfing

Wind surfing was pioneered in 1948 and uses the wind for propulsion rather than the water - combining sailing with surfing the waves in the water. Wind surfing is primarily a recreational sport although it was designed as an Olympic sport in 1984.

Body Surfing

Body surfing utilizes specialized swimfins but no buoyant device such as a surfboard or bodyboard.

Surf Board Parts

While the world of surfing seems complex, the names of the parts of the surfboard remain the same. The parts of a surfboard include the nose, the rails, the deck and the tail. On the under side, on occasion there are fins.

Varieties of Surf Boards

Not to make the subject more complex than it really is, it is important to note that the surfboard has evolved over the years with many new innovations. There are hollow boards, hot curl boards, pop-out boards (fiberglass, mass produced boards), short boards, twin fins, surf leash, gun and fish. The materials used can be wood (redwood, balsa from South America is very popular because of its light weight) and fiberglass.

Surf Board

Famous Surf Quotes

When Mark Twain visited Hawaii in 1866 he wrote,

"In one place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing."[4]


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Skimboards on Amazon

Famous Surf Quotes

Surfing soothes me, it's always been a kind of Zen experience for me. The ocean is so magnificent, peaceful, and awesome. The rest of the world disappears for me when I'm on a wave.
Paul Walker

Stand Up Paddle Board

Famous Surf Quotes

"Surfing expresses ... a pure yearning for visceral, physical contact with the natural world."

MATT WARSHAW, Maverick's: The Story of Big-Wave Surfing


Famous Surf Quotes

“The best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.”
-Duke Kahanamoku

Swim Board - Kickboard

Kiefer Wonderboard

Wonderboard by Kiefer

Wonderboard by Kiefer

Water Sports Boards - Demand Athletic Skill

Safety Tips - Respect the Water - Open Water Demands Either Tethers or Life Jackets

Types of Water Recreation Equipment/Tools

Surf Boards

Surfing is a sport that involves the surfer navigating the ocean waves with a long board called a surf board. Surfing is "the grandfather of all board sports [1]." The surf board is made of polystyrene foam covered with layers of fiberglass, cloth and/or epoxy resin, carbon or other synthetic fibers.

There are also boards called a "foamies". These are surfboards made with a foam core. Foamies offer more buoyancy almost like a surfboard, however, lightweight foam boards are said to be difficult to handle for the experienced surfer and yet simpler for the novice.

Surf board range not just in material but also in weight, length and shape. Types of surf boards range in style and length and materials and may be called:

  • Fun board
  • Long board
  • Classic long board
  • Short boards
  • Egg
  • Fish
  • Tri-Fin
  • Many more

Stand Up Paddle Boards

Stand up paddle boards is a derivative of surfing that involves standing up on a surfboard and using a long-handled paddle to move through the water, it's becoming a popular sport with many celebrities taking up this sport.


Skimboarding begins not in the water but on the beach by dropping the board onto the thin wash of previous waves. Skimboarding goes back to the 1920s, when lifeguards would use pieces of wood to skim across the beach. It was only during the 70s though that the sport started to move from the sand onto the waves and become what it is now today, largely through the efforts of skimboarders in Laguna Beach.


Skurfing is another type of boardsport that is growing rapidly. Essentially, skurfing is the combination of surfing and towing; the skurfer is towed behind the boat.

Skurfing is not to be confused with "surf tow" where the rider is taken out further to catch waves in excess of 20 feet in height.

Body Boards

Bodyboarding is a surface water sport created by inventor Tom Morey with his brand called "Boogie Board" (the term Boogieboarding was derived from his brand name). Often the bodyboarder will also wear swim fins to help with both propulsion and control.

Unlike the surfer who is always riding the board upright, the bodyboard offers three different methods to ride the body board:

  • prone (face down, body on the board)
  • drop-knee (one foot forward, one foot back with the knee on the board for stability)
  • stand-up (both feet on deck)

Knee Boards

Kneeboarding is a type of tow-sport where the rider is towed by a boat. Riders sit on their heels and an adjustable strap fits over their thighs for added stability.

Wake Boards

Wakeboiarding is a combination of water skiing, snow boarding and surfing techniques. Fins and bindings are attached. Boots are similar to snow boarding and the bend in the wakeboard that goes from tip to tail is called the "rocker". The maneuvers on the wakeboard all have names from G-Spot to Toostie Roll to Dum-Dum to Bel Air and Air Krypt.

Kickboard Sit

Various Types of Swim Boards

Swim Boards

Swim boards are best known as kick board to help new swimmer learn how to properly kick during swimming laps.

Kick Boards

The purpose of the kick board by its very name is meant to put the swimmer in a horizontal position similar to full immersion swimming. Kick boards are made of firm foam. The shapes and sizes vary slightly but the purpose remains to help the swimmer perfect the flutter kick.

The personal trainer in me cannot help but to remind you never kick with your knees - use your muscles. If you don't understand this you are not building muscle and you are not swimming efficiently.


The Wonderboard™ was designed by Jun Konno and is sold by Kiefer is a versatile therapeutic/exercise tool. More versatile than the kick board offering a number of different exercises from sitting to standing to even kneeling. Used commonly in the therapy marketplace for re-training or maintaining balance.

EZ Swimmer's Sea Horse

Another type of swim board is called the EZ Swimmer®. Unlike the other boards, the EZ Swimmer® is a soft foam swim board. Similar to the other water sport boards, the EZ Swimmer is buoyant and designed to keep the rider's head above the water.

The EZ Swimmer® is most similar to the body board in that it can be used in different methods - prone is a diagonal movement most similar to the kickboard where the arms are holding the sports equipment and the legs and hips are fully engaged. The EZ Swimmer sea horse movement is similar to a balance ball in the water. And for relaxation, the supine method is using the EZ Swimmer board as a pillow.

Unlike the Wonderboard™, the resistance with the EZ Swimmer is too strong for the therapy marketplace. This type of swim board is best suited for resistance training with strong participants or the recreational sports market. The EZ Swimmer is loved by men and women who love a challenge. While it is easy to keep you afloat, it is hard on target toning and excels at body calisthenics in the water. If you don't like push-ups, sit-ups, if you don't wish to engage your core muscles, you might wish to look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you are training for your surf trip, seek to take your water workout to the next level with resistance training, this swim board will be great for you. For a direct parallel on land, I like to share with clients to imagine a barbell that offers in excess of 8 lbs of resistance.

EZ Swimmer Sea Horse Sports Movement

The EZ Swimmer sea horse is a sport that demands some skill. Similar to riding a bicycle, the sea horse movement demands stability by the rider from the core muscle groups.

The EZ Swimmer sea horse movement is in the swim fitness world labelled the seated balance. It is an exercise movement that engages your core muscles. If you do not engage your core muscles, similar to a surf board, skim board, you will lose your balance. The sea horse is a sport movement. It is easy but make no mistake you must keep those muscles engaged to stay afloat. The EZ Swimmer even with the sea horse movement is not a float to relax, it is a spiorts float designed to challenge your muscle.

Often when a sea horse rider loses his/her balance, the sea horse is said to turn into a bucking bull! The sea horse is much more demanding than the kick board. A simpler form of surfing - surfing in the swimming pools without the volatile waves of the ocean.

Seated Balance

Seated Balance with the Swim Board called the EZ Swimmer

Seated Balance with the Swim Board called the EZ Swimmer

Take Our Poll on the Sea Horse Challenge

Difference Between the Kickboard Sit and the EZ Swimmer Sea Horse?

This is a common question I field on the internet. The biggest difference is the resistance and skill level. If you imagine the sea horse with over 8 lbs of resistance you will understand the force you must control. Because there is more resistance, I advise clients to keep their knees lower than their waist. This body position engages the abdominal muscles not the back muscles. When you are on the kick board sit position you have much less resistance.

Try This on Land - Take The Sea Horse challenge On Land

To test my theory of the knees being lower than the waist to engage your abdominal muscles. Try this on land. Sit in a chair, move your buttocks to the edge of the chair, keep your back aligned, slowly move your feet off the floor just 2-4" while keeping your knees lower than your waist.

Now try this same movement with your knees higher than your waist.

What muscles do you feel engaged?

I feel my back muscles engaged when my knees are higher than my waist.

I feel my abdominal muscles working when my knees are lower than my waist.

Funny Surf Quotes

We’ve surfed uglier, haven’t we?

Thanks for wasting another wave. . . how many is that?

Its generally a good idea to look in front of you when you’re surfing.

So you’re slim and good looking and surf well and drive a BMW. That girl with you doesn’t know what’s she’s missing.

Sources - Sports Boards Swim Boards Recreational Equipment Toys for Water Fun


Water Sports Board Comparisons

The water sporting industry is exciting. The various boards have something to offer for everyone. But yet what water sport is best for you? We all know about water skiing but many of lack a basic understanding of what the water sports boards can offer to the rider. All boards demand basic understanding and skill of swimming. Yet what boards demand tether? And what boards are simpler? What boards demand waves and/or a personal motor craft? And what board simply need water? Let's review closely and compare surf boards, skim board, knee boards, and swim boards.

Leash/Tether is a Must for a Surf Board

"If you want to keep your surfboard you need one of these. Seen many surfers loose high dollar boards to the water because they thought it was "not cool" to wear a leash. What is really "not cool" is losing a $1000 board or your board flying away and injuring another surfer."

Boogie Board Basics

Tethers for Water Sports Boards

Tethers are essential for water sport boards used in open water such as lakes and oceans. If the skim board is used In shallow water, no tether is typically needed. Tethers differ from type of board. A summary of the tether and the location or the purpose of the tether is sumamrized below:

Surf Boards: Tether at the ankle

Body Boards: Tether at the arm

Knee Boards: Tether for towing

Skim Boards: No Tether

Wake Boards: Tether for towing

Swim Boards: No Tether

Golden Rule of Skimboarding

Everybody falls, even the great ones.

Skill Level Needed for Each Water Sports Equipment

The surf board is the grand daddy and of course, the most difficult. Within surfing, the elite level is the surf tow - where the rider is driven by personal motor craft to larger waves - in excess of 20 feet.

All the water sports boards demand balance and use of the core muscles of the body.

While often the water sports boards are labelled "recreational", there is no mistaking the fact that all of these board demand skill in order to safely operate. The water is always to be respected - no matter how shallow. Open water demands even more precautions and safety measures.

How to Bodysurf

How to Skimboard

Price of Water Sports Equipment

Surf boards are the most prestigious of all water sports and carry one of the highest price tags. Kick boards on are on the other hand are the simplest and often the least expensive.

Open Water Demands Tethers for Safety

The water is always to be respected. Open water such as lakes and oceans demand tethers to ensure the rider is not completely separated from the buoyant sports equipment.

Wonderful World of Water Sports

Knowledge is empowerment. Knowing what is available, how it works opens a new world of possibility. I hope this article helped you understand the many different water sports and pieces of equipment available in the marketplace. I especially hope it motivated you to reach to new horizons on your next trip to the swimming pool or beach or vacation.Whatever you do - enjoy! Happiness is in the journey - tour all routes, climb the hills, explore the lakes and oceans, walk the various pathways and take the cherished memories with you.

Enjoy this website? Not a member yet?



Kelly A Burnett (author) from United States on December 10, 2012:


It is new to be me too! I don't have the luxury of being near the water so the lack of knowledge goes with my geography. Visiting different lands, learning different sports is what Hub Pages is all about. Thank you so much for your accolades - it really means allot.

rcskim on September 28, 2012:

Great hub! Thanks for the info. I'm a skimboarder myself. Glad to see it included. I meet so many people who have no idea what skimboarding is.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on November 29, 2011:


Water and air sports are intimidating. Water sports, however, are changing and more and more of us are getting the swimming pool and seeing what is fun. It used to be pools were made only for full immersion swimmers. With only a small minority of us being able to swim laps and with safety concerns, the swimming pools have changed and the water sports equipment is changing to coincide with people's skill set and enjoyment. Nothing is more beautiful than a swimming pool or the ocean - the magic of the beauty of water is only exceeded by the fun of being in the water.

jfay2011 on November 26, 2011:

interesting. I have always wanted to try water skiing once. I almost had the chance but chickened out. My kids have had the basic little surf boards. Cheaper brands.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on November 25, 2011:

H P Roychouhury,

Thank you so much! I hope I motivated others to try a new water sport - there is so much to offer - really something for everyone. Yes, I know it would be better to be in the water but during the winter what a great way to explore new adventures.

You are my favorite - thank you so very much!

H P Roychoudhury from Guwahati, India on November 25, 2011:

It is an Educative, informatics hub making it lively with videos. It is my pleasure to see you again here. [Your favorite, HP]

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on November 23, 2011:


Oh, how I appreciate your input. I can readily add a photo - and yes, the photo speaks volumes. I will update it right away. Thank you very much!

Judy Specht from California on November 23, 2011:

Amused that this hub is written by someone in the mid-west.

I liked the videos. The scull sit will be useful in training. Still not sure what the EZ Swimmer Seahorse is. The picture is not very clear.

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