How to Hold a SUP Paddle Properly

How to Hold a SUP Paddle Properly 2It’s one of those nev­er end­ing sum­mer days and you’re spend­ing it glid­ing across the riv­er on your stand-up pad­dle­board. You catch your­self slip­ping into a state of flow, until the faint echo of a man’s voice hits your ears; you look up and see a tan man on shore yelling at you to “turn your pad­dle around!” Brow fur­rowed, you look to your friend in the hope that he’ll con­firm you’re not only doing this whole SUP thing right but damn well, too. He looks at you skep­ti­cal­ly and tells you to, indeed, turn your pad­dle around; “That’s why you’ve been going so slow.”

Save your­self the strife of feel­ing like a total new­bie, the unnec­es­sary argu­ment with your friend, and the slow­ness of an improp­er stride by sim­ply learn­ing the most basic, least talked about ele­ment of stand-up pad­dle­board­ing: how to hold your pad­dle properly.

Hold the pad­dle so the blade slopes away from you:
When begin­ners pick up a pad­dle, it’s com­mon for them to hold the pad­dle so that the angle of the blade is slop­ing toward them. This seems to be human nature; the pad­dle sim­ply looks like it should scoop the water, right? Wrong, thanks to physics. Hold­ing the pad­dle this way pulls up on the water, cre­ates drag and slows you down. Hold­ing the pad­dle with the blade slop­ing away from you push­es down on the water, cre­ates lift and allows you to glide smooth­ly along the water.

Know which arm goes on top:
This ele­ment of pad­dle­board­ing seems to come pret­ty nat­u­ral­ly to us new folk, but it’s no less impor­tant to mas­ter, so let’s get the basics straight. If you’re pad­dling on the right, your left hand must be on the top of the grip, and vice-ver­sa. You’ll switch your top grip each time you switch sides and it will become a seam­less effort as long as you learn this right the first time before devel­op­ing any bad habits.

Pad­dle with your core, not your arms:
Your core is much stronger than your arms, so aim at pad­dling by twist­ing your tor­so and using your core mus­cles, as opposed to pulling your­self with the sole strength of your arms. To do this most effi­cient­ly, stand on the board with a slight bend in your knees and look out at the hori­zon, not down at your feet.

Push down, pull back:
To get the most out of each stroke, sim­ply push the pad­dle so it’s ful­ly immersed in the water, pull it back to your ankle and then out of the water. Think about pulling your­self past your pad­dle instead of just pulling your pad­dle through the water.

Prac­tice good pos­ture:
Stand straight, not stiff. Don’t lock your knees, keep them slight­ly bent. Keep your back straight, not hunched, and hold your shoul­ders lev­el. All of this will help you in keep­ing your­self and your pad­dle prop­er­ly positioned.