When it comes to your paddle board technique, you may feel like you're lacking in some areas. Your paddle stroke is desperately missing a full range of motion and your SUP stance needs some fine-tuning. It's natural to feel that way when you're first learning how to paddle board, or when you want to improve your stand up paddle boarding skills. Luckily, these common SUP mistakes are quick and easy to fix.
Making minor adjustments to your stand up paddle board technique will transform you into a stronger, more capable paddler. This means that with little effort, you will be able to paddle faster, further, and look like a pro every time you put your board and paddle in the water.
There are three simple steps to improve your paddle board technique. Whether you are on an inflatable paddle board or hard board, we want to help equip you to feel confident when out on the water. Follow each step below to learn the best stand up paddle boarding tips and techniques that only the most elite paddlers know about.
STEP 1: ENHANCING YOUR SUP STANCE
A proper SUP stance will guarantee you the most balance and control on your paddle board. Below, I break down the most optimal SUP stance by proper foot placement and posture to make the most of your full body when you paddle.
PROPER SUP FOOT PLACEMENT
One of the most common SUP mistakes beginners make is standing too far forward or backward on their paddle board. Consider this rule of thumb, the further you stand from the middle point of your SUP, the more difficult it will be to stay balanced and gain momentum when paddling.
The best spot to stand on your SUP is over the middle point. This is where you will feel most stable. Luckily, the middle point of your SUP is easy to determine because almost every stand up paddle board has a carry handle located there; inflatable paddle boards included.
The only time you should stand further back on your paddle board — assuming you’re not surfing — is if you have another passenger on board with you. Standing further back on your board will equally distribute the weight of your passenger on the nose of your SUP.
Paddle Board Tips For Foot Placement:
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart above your paddle board’s carry handle
- Slightly angle your feet (about 15 degrees outward) from a parallel position
- When paddling, distribute your weight evenly through both feet for the best balance
- Never grip your toes to your SUP’s deck pad because you will lose your balance
PROPER SUP POSTURE
As crazy as it might seem, there are several ways to improperly stand on your stand up paddle board. For instance, standing with your knees bent too much and back hunched causes unnecessary back strain, and ultimately, leads to bad paddling habits. Study the paddle board technique tips below to acquire the SUP posture of a pro paddle boarder.
Paddle Board Tips For SUP Posture:
- Your knees should be slightly bent so that you can just see your toes
- Do not allow your knees to cave too inwards or outwards during your paddle stroke
- Always keep your back straight
- Always look out towards the horizon
- Your core should always be engaged
STEP 2: HOW TO HOLD YOUR SUP PADDLE LIKE A PRO
Holding your SUP paddle incorrectly can cause serious fatigue to your arms, back, and shoulders. To avoid injury, your SUP paddle’s blade should always be bent away from you when paddling. This side of your paddle’s blade has the most hydrodynamic shape and will provide you with the most optimal paddle efficiency. A simple way to remember this on ISLE SUP paddles is to check if the ISLE logo is facing away from you and toward the nose of your stand up paddle board.
STEP 3: IMPROVING YOUR PADDLE STROKE
An excellent paddle stroke separates the beginners from the experts. As you learn how to paddle board, your paddle stroke is the most important stand up paddle board technique to master. Those who have mastered their paddle strokes are able to cover more ground with less effort. Unlike your SUP stance, mastering your paddle stroke will take more practice. Below, you will find the three stages of a perfect paddle stroke, and in no time, you'll be a pro paddle boarder.
The first stage to a perfect paddle stroke is what we like to call The Dip. While keeping your back straight, lean forward and submerge your paddle’s blade into the water. Having the full surface of your blade submerged is important because this is where the power behind your paddle stroke begins. In addition, try to keep the shaft of your paddle perpendicular to the surface of the water when submerging your paddle’s blade. This will also help drive more power out of each stroke. The more angled your paddle’s shaft is, the less power you create when pulling the blade through the water.
THE POWER PHASE
With your top hand gripping the handle of your SUP paddle and bottom arm reaching midway down the paddle’s shaft, pull through the water by engaging all the muscles in your core. Both of your arms should be as straight as possible when you complete your stroke with a full range of arm motion. Your top shoulder and core are rotating to propel you forward, utilizing your back and core muscles, rather than just your arms. It’s important to note that your core should be the main driving force in the power phase of your stroke. This helpful pro tip is a useful SUP race paddle technique. The more core strength you have, the faster you can make your paddle board go to win the next SUP race.
THE RELEASE AND TRANSITION
Once you have completed your stroke with a full range of arm motion, your paddle’s blade should naturally exit the water. This is called the release. Your paddle stroke to release should feel like one solid motion. Once you release, position your paddle back to the front of your body to prepare for another paddle stroke. Remember to keep your core engaged and legs slightly bent while preparing another stroke.
WRAPPING UP: IMPROVING YOUR PADDLE BOARD TECHNIQUE
With some fine-tuning, your paddle board technique can improve immensely. Take these SUP tips and techniques above and start practicing them on your favorite body of flat water. Remember to give your knees a slight bend and use your core to give power to your paddle stroke. You will be paddling like a pro in no time.