When looking for ways to try and stay fit and ready for surfing when you can’t go, you’ve probably seen balance boards mentioned a lot.
They are one option to help you with both surf training and fitness, but are they worth the hype? Let’s have a look at that in this post in detail, considering everything you need to know specifically for surfing.
To start off, balance boards can be good to enhance your core muscles and to help you practice your balance when you can’t go surfing, but they are not a replacement for surfing, so don’t think you can learn to surf with one.
That said, let’s have a look at the different types available and all the other factors you need to consider if you’re interested in a balance board as a surfer. So let’s get to that right now.
Types of Balance Board
The main types of balance boards are the ‘Indo Board’ brand, other bamboo boards on hard plastic roller, air cushion (or ‘BOSU’ ball) on a board and homemade balance boards made using high-density PVC pipe and a sufficiently strong wooden board of your choice. More on the pros and cons of each below.
Indo Board: the Original but Most Expensive Option
Indo Boards were the first balance board on the market truly for surfers. The name comes from ‘Indo’ because of Indonesia, the surfing Mecca, and obviously board. They are smooth wooden boards with a black plastic roller and a nice simple logo, so that makes them definitive and easy to spot.
Indo Board balance boards (official site) also have two wooden stoppers at either end keeping them nice and simple, a simple board that will rock back and forth without you flying off the end of your roller.
Indo Boards are very good quality balance boards and targeted for surfers, meaning they’re a very good choice. The only downside with them is that they are in the premium price range because of the quality but also branding.
Indo Boards come with a range of exercises and training activities to try out, with lots of YouTube videos also available to give you some inspiration. Some of them are really hard that I could not do, but definitely have a go and they will help both your core strength and your balance.
The above instructional video gives you an idea of how the Indo Board works.
If you can pop up on an Indo Board, you are doing better than me and I’ve been surfing for over 20 years!
A nice thing about Indo Boards is that their website and various social media channels have lots of training techniques and tricks that you can use to help you practice with them.
One other downside to Indo Boards is that they only have the stoppers at each end of the board, meaning that you can’t change them or get a feel for surfing side to side (toe to heel), as you can with other boards that I’ll describe below.
Otherwise, as I said, they’re a premium option, a very high-quality product and very good for surfers.
Check out the Indo Board range here for more! (Affiliate link)
Revolution Swell 2.0 Surf Balance Board
These new Revolution Swell 2.0 balance boards are an excellent and premium choices for surfers because they give you the option to change the placement of the stoppers.
They have a nice soft padded top, meaning you can lie down on them and pop up and they won’t scratch or cause irritation to your skin.
I really like the design of these boards because when you put the stoppers on the board on either side, that means you can rock the board a bit like you would on a surfboard.
This lets you get a feel for what it’s like to plane and ride along the open face of a wave, which you cannot do with an Indo Board, because it only goes in the one direction which is different to this direction. See the video below from YouTube for a clear demonstration
You can also put the stop at the ends of the board, giving you the same feeling as an Indo Board, as well, as I’ve mentioned before, having the side-to-side or heel-to-toe options.
The roller is a little bit smaller, which doesn’t make much difference really, it’s just that much bit less space in your house, if you’re really concerned about that.
Another point I really like about the Revolution Swell 2.0 balance board (Amazon) is the design. They’ve got a very sleek black and blue color scheme and branding to most of their products, and it just looks really nice, as well.
The Revolution Swell Balance Board is in the same price range as the Indo Board, so it is again expensive, but if you’re going to go for one of the two, I would recommend the Revolution Swell for surf training because it’s just that much more versatile than an Indo Board.
And as for downsides, the only real downside of the Revolution Swell Balance Board for surfing is the price.
Otherwise, the design is excellent. The quality is excellent. The reviews are excellent. You can’t go far wrong. It’s just the joint most expensive offering, but also for me, the best option for surfers.
Yes4all Balance Board For Surfers, A Good Budget Option
The Yes4All Balance Board can be found on Amazon readily and has extremely good reviews wherever you see it.
It’s ideal for surfing, as well, and it has actually more options in terms of placing the stoppers under the board than the others in this list.
But my only concern with it would be how long it would last you because the price seems to suggest that the materials used are not as high quality as the Indo Board or the Swell Balance Boards mentioned above.
That said, the Yes4All Balance Board is great if you can’t afford those two more premium offerings and will still do very good to help you with that core stability and surfboard balance practice when you can’t get into the surf.
Best Balance Board for UK Surfers: NorthCore Zen Board
This is the one my wife recently bought from a really high-quality British surf hardware brand, NorthCore.
The NorthCore Zen Balance Board (Amazon) is sturdy and has stoppers at the end and a felt-line roller, making it nice and smooth. The board is made from the usual ply and it has grip tape that is fine to use with bare feet (I know from several sessions!)
As you can see from the photos, we’ve been using it in our small apartment (or ‘flat’) here in the UK and it’s been great and offers lots of fun, as do all quality balance boards.
I really like the forgiving felt-lined roller that came with (picture further down) as this feels like a nice addition that adds a smoothness to the feeling.
It is also available across many European Amazon stores but a little harder to find in North America.
A very similar board to ours is available in the US from Revolution as the 101 Balance Board.
The differences between the Revolution 101 Balance Board and Northcore Zen Balance board are that the 101 has a soft-foam grip but it only has a smooth plastic roller, whereas the Zen board has a felt-covered roller and grip tape.
Grip tape on balance boards is fine to use barefoot but not good if you want to try to pop up on your balance board as grip tape is too rough for that. A better option would be the Revolution branded balance boards on Amazon as most come with soft-padded foam grip instead.
Alternative Balance Board Options For Surfers
So you might’ve seen the balance boards above and thought “Nice, but I don’t want to pay that much for a balance board.” Well, there are a couple of options you could do if you’re more inclined to make things yourself, as I will outline below.
Air Cushion and Board: Good if You Already Have and/or Use a Cushion
You might have one of those flat yoga cushions already in your house. In which case, you can combine this with a balance board, as in the plank part of it, and start using that in a similar way.
Now, this isn’t going to be the same as a roller, but you will still get some stability control out of it, and you would need to buy a plank, or let’s say a board, to balance on that is going to be made of sufficiently strong, hard wood that will last.
The last thing you want there is for the board to snap and cause you some potential injury or harm.
The Balance board brand, Indo Board, offer balance boards with air cushions in their yoga range, so you can be sure that they are not just a gimmick and are genuinely worth trying out.
It’s worth noting here that if you already have one of these air cushions or even a BOSU ball, you can use that, but buying a balance board without roller, i.e. just the board/plank part of it, might be more expensive than you’d think.
So if you’re in any doubt, a better option would be to save up and buy a set than try to buy the parts separately because the cost won’t be that much different because balance board brands price items to encourage you to buy a full set rather than spare parts.
Homemade Balance Board: Good if You Like to Make Things Yourself But Safety a Concern
Of course, a balance board doesn’t look like it’s much to make yourself in that it’s just a plank of wood and a strong plastic roller.
Right? Well, yes, that is true, but there are a few things you need to think about.
The first safety concern of balance boards is that the wood can snap if it’s not made of an extremely strong wood. If this snaps when you’re standing on it, you can get splinters or/and all kinds of cuts and lacerations to your inside legs and even around your midriff.
Be really careful if you’re going to make your own balance board just for this aspect alone because that could cause you some serious injury or harm.
You will also want to add stoppers onto the end of your board to stop the board flying out from under you because balance boards that you buy from Amazon and other places like that have these as a safety feature.
Even if it doesn’t hit you, it could fly off, hit someone else or damage something in your house.
So you really do want to put those stoppers on your homemade balance board before you try to use it.
Another point is that you need to find a very strong plastic or PVC pipe if you’re going to make your own balance board roller, because you need to make sure it’s not going to break when you’ve put your full weight on it.
Now, this is cheap enough and pretty safe, but just make sure you choose the right pipe or equivalent material that will hold your weight, that you can be sure about it and get something that is nice and thick, and that you’ve checked the specs for online before you buy it.
In that case, it’s just a case of cutting down the pipe to a medium size and you can take it from there.
Surfboard-shaped Balance Boards, Not Bad, But Quite Large.
You could also get balance boards in the shape of a cutdown surfboard, almost two-thirds of the size or half the size, which are bigger than other balance boards.
Now, this can help to simulate your surfing experience a little more closely than other balance boards, but remember, it’s still not going to be the same.
Some of these are on the market and you can buy them from Amazon again, but the only issue with these surfboard-shaped balance boards is that they’re going to be a lot bigger than any of the other balance boards you might want to use for surf training.
So if size is a concern, don’t go for this option. Go for probably the Swell Revolution board mentioned above or the Indo Board.
However, if you do have the size, then you can look into these as there are some with very good reviews online and try out a balance board in the shape of a surfboard.
South Bay Board Co. make a nice surf balance trainer, and they are a good learner surfer brand that makes great soft-top surfboards, as well.
So that is a good option, although there are others on Amazon.
Balance Board Rollers
In terms of the rollers for balance boards, you get two main types of these, plastic and cork.
Plastics are the most common and you’ll see them used by the top brands, like Indo Board and Revolution, while cork rollers for balance boards are used by more of the eco-conscious companies and often by yoga companies who have their own balance board products, as well.
Plastic balance board rollers are slippier, although the board won’t slip too much because the surf-focused balance board brands have put grip on the plastic to give it that traction, so it will stay with the board.
Whereas the cork gives you a bit more of that textured feel, although it won’t slide back and forth quite as quickly as the plastic because of that friction on the surface. Cork balance board rollers might also not last as long as plastic, depending on their quality.
Our Northcore balance board (Amazon) actually has a really nice felt-covered roller, making it very smooth to rock back and forth on and, for me, this is actually an improvement on the pure plastic rollers mentioned above.
And as I mentioned, the main surf balance board brands don’t use cork rollers, but if you want to check out balance boards for surfers with cork rollers, have a look at these on Amazon for the best options.
You Can Use A Foam Roller For A Balance Board, But Be Careful.
One last point to note is that if you have a foam roller for yoga or muscle issues, you can probably use this as a balance board roller, but you need to be sure that it’s not too big.
If it’s too big, it can be quite dangerous to get up onto and make it more difficult. I’ve got one here that has soft foam with textured grip that is a little bit too large in diameter for me to feel comfortable.
The problem with this is when you start on the balance board, you have to rock quite a lot. So the higher the roller is, the more difficult it is to start.
An Indo Board roller, for example, is actually quite low and you will notice a big difference just by changing a few centimeters of diameter in the roller. So think about that carefully before you try it.
If you do really want to try out a foam roller for your balance board, try it outdoors on grass or somewhere in a big open space with a soft landing to be sure, and also check with the manufacturer if you could see what the materials used in the core of the foam roller.
My foam roller has a hollow plastic tube, which is very strong, but just make sure that yours works properly. And definitely don’t try to use a soft foam roller because that just won’t really work. If you’ve got a softer one, it’s not going to be the same.
Balance Boards Help Surfing (But Only To A Point)
As we’ve discussed above, balance boards can be good for your core muscles and helping you to keep that stability and muscle memory going for simulating surfing.
But remember, they will never replicate the surfing experience and you still need to go surfing in order to learn to surf, as there are so many other activities when you get out into the water, not just the balancing part.
That said, balance boards are a good option for people who are early in their surfing journey and who just can’t go to the beach very often because it can help with that muscle memory side of things for infrequent surfers and novices.
Otherwise, for regular surfers who are already experienced, it’s a fun workout, but it’s probably not going to improve your surfing. So decide on those points and think whether the balance board is worth it for you.
Dangers Of Balance Boards.
Using a balance board is not a toy as all the products you will see online say, so don’t buy them for small children because they can be quite dangerous.
The first main danger of a balance board is that you can easily fall off and land awkwardly, hit your head, or land on something and cause yourself some serious harm. This is because the balance board is extremely wobbly and takes a lot of time to get used to.
So don’t think it’s something to take lightly, and definitely, if you are going to use it with children, make sure you are in attendance at all times with the children when using a balance board.
Another point about balance boards is that the board can also fly off and hit someone else or hit something else causing damage to someone around you or in your house.
So you need to think about that.
Most of the good balance boards have some kind of protection to stop causing scuff marks on the floor.
But if you have a hard floor in your house, you need to probably put a yoga mat down to avoid any damage from the board, as the roller will be scuffing and scratching the floor if you’re not careful.
Last main point of dangers of balance boards is that they can break, and if they do, it can be extremely scary. The board itself can snap when you’re up and riding and that can be really scary because you will fall and you will have sharp broken wood or plastic below you.
So make sure you buy a good quality one and only make one from yourself if you are 110% sure it’s safe.
The other thing that can happen is that the roller can break, although this isn’t such a big issue as you will still be on the board, so it’s not as bad as the board breaking.
Last point is if you have a balance board without stoppers at the end, you can fly off and just completely have your legs go from under you losing total control. So there is that point to think about, as well.
And those are the main things of balance boards, but in the main, if you use them properly, they are fine to use. Just try them on a soft surface first and use them outdoors in the first few instances.
Don’t use them in a small indoor space as you will probably fall off and you could cause damage to yourself and your furnishings.
And with that said, I hope you found this post on balance boards for surfers useful, and thank you for reading!