Prone refers to riding a bodyboard on your stomach. You will want an all around board that has good shape and durable materials and one that is well balanced in terms of speed, control, and flexibility.
The nose needs to be fairly wide for a prone board because you are drive and pivot off it, like when you do spins or bank reverses.
The tail plays an important role as it like the utter like on a boat. It doesn’t necessarily steer you but it plays a big role in control and stability. A "crescent tail" board has a lot more control and sticks to the wave but is very ridged and does not spin as easily when you are doing moves such as a backflip. "Bat tails" are the opposite. A bat tail gives you less control and releases and spins much easier. A bat tail has an overall looser feel. On bat tail boards, the width should be medium-sized.
Next, is the width of the board. The narrower the board, the more ridged it is. These boards are built more for speed and larger waves. The wider the board is, the more loose it will be for smaller waves and create ease with spins and turns.
Lastly, nose-to-wide-point is a practical measurement that is important to understand. The nose-to-wide point runs from the nose to the widest point on the rail of the bodyboard. The longer the nose-to-wide-point is the quicker the turns will be and the shorter the nose-to-wide-point is the slower or more mellow the turns will be. This measurement will help you decipher what board is best for personal enjoyment.
Below are some great bodyboard shapes and dimensions:
The definition of dropknee is explained in that picture, better than I could try to tell you in text! This technique is between prone bodyboarding and regular surfing. You can perform (with expert ability) ars, backflip, invert, roll, air forward or air reverse moves. However, you can perform floaters, carves, and spins with ease… WOO-HOO!
There has been an old saying that boards should be as tall as your belly button. The size of your board should not be confined to this thought. Boards are made to not be seen as a "one size fits all" accessory. In some cases swimmers' boards are lower than their navel. It is important to note that the board should ALWAYS fit comfortably under your arm as you carry it and the thickness should also feel comfortable and conform to your body's curves.
As with most products, the quality goes along with the price. On the cheapest level you have the cheap Costco/Walmart (or supermarket) boards you will find in the kids toy isle. These range from $20-80. They will suffice if you are just messing around on the weekends a few times a year in the summer.
Medium-cost boards are important for people fairly interested in bodyboarding. They usually range around $80-150.
Lastly, most expensive boards are for individuals with the highest skill set (unless someone starting out went big on a good board). The pro model boards are endorsed from champions like Jeff Hubbard, Ryan Hardy, Mitch Rawlins, Thom Robinson or Mike Stewart. These boards range from $150-280.
There are a little fewer than a dozen companies that you can’t go wrong with if you get a board from them. I just personally know these companies put out good shapes and materials that the best riders in the world use.
There are a few different materials to choose from:
The bottom of the board will be Surlyn®. You should always get one stringer in your board. You should always have channels on the bottom of the board.
The top of the board can either be 8lb deck, which is a coarse, spongy material or a slick tighter celled material. You may also choose a board with a mesh called X flex --- its like plastic chicken wire that goes along the bottom of the board right beneath the Surlyn®. A great combination is to find mesh with a stringer attached to it. Another option is to get a 2-piece tail. The material used for the 2-piece tail is from the rail and is harder and it also looks cool with a different color.
The core material of the bodyboard is very important. There are two main types, Polypropylene (PP) and dow (PE). There is also Arcel, but it is not commonly used nowadays.
Speaking of Arcel, it has the closest, stiffest, tightest, most dense cells making it very responsive but having the least amount of memory. Memory is how durable the core is so if you bend your board really hard or ride it hard it is how much it will return to its original condition.
Most boards are PP and that is the strongest and most flexible material. Its cells are tight and very responsive and it has a good amount of memory. PP has a great amount of stiffness to it. Polypropylene is in between Arcel and dow.
Dow cores has a ton of memory and not as much stiffness as the other two cores. It bends more but it can bounce back from that and restore to its original shape the best. The dow utilized today has excels in larger cold water waves but you can ride it in any wave conditions.
This is one of the best options for people that want unique boards. Many make small tweaks to their boards and can test out different forms, cores, and materials.
You can fluctuate a half-inch or but these dimensions are great shapes and are good baselines if you want to change the dimensions by a little bit.