Stand On Liquid Guide to SUP Paddling Fundamentals

It seems simple enough. Once you master the subtle art of standing on your board, now all you need to do is move forward. In this post I thought I’d give you a few things to think about when it comes to the actual use of your paddle. There are some simple things you can do to help you achieve the fun you are looking for and avoid the problems that you could encounter.

Screen shot 2014-01-01 at 9.49.17 AMFirst and foremost, stretch before you get in the water. Even if yoga is not your thing, borrowing a few of the total body stretches associated with yoga can make your day on the water last longer with fewer tired muscles afterward. You should do this stretching right before you get in the water. I’ve come across a lot of opinions on when you should stretch. Some suggest a fifteen minute warm-up before you get on the board while others say the warm-up could be done an hour or so before. Either way, you are looking to loosen your lower back, your hip flexors, your lats, your gluts and your hamstrings.

Second thing you’ll need to is a lightweight, adjustable paddle. For beginners, I would strongly suggest you use something like the Stand On Liquid Adjustable Aluminum SUP Paddle.  It has a foam filled shaft (so it’ll float) attached to an excellent polymer blade.

You should now begin to work on some basic concepts on how to hold your paddle. On dry land, find out where your strongest hand hold is. Position your hand at the top of the paddle with your other hand positioned at a point where you create the stroke.

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Okay SUP paddle grip

Have a friend hold the paddle, standing opposite you and pulling away from you. You are looking for the point on your paddle where you feel the strongest. Beginners should mark this point with a piece of tape. You may, with more experience find the grip should change. All you need to do is move the tape.

Now you’ll want to move on to the nuances of the actual stroke. Danny Mangno refers to the best stroke as having four key elements. At the point where the tape has been placed, make an OK sign with your hand. This is element number one. You do this because this particular grip will allow the paddle to move in your hand and keep you from trying to exert a lot of force at that point on the paddle.

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Duck grip

For the second element of the stroke, you should focus on the grip at the top of the paddle. It should also be held loosely using what Danny refers to as the duck grip.

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Mangno’s suggested stacked grip, loosely held

To generate as much power as possible with little effort requires you to keep your hands “stacked” on the paddle as if your palm of your top hand could rest on the top of your bottom hand.

If you are doing it correctly, you are breaking the water with your top hand and pulling through with your bottom hand. Keep in mind that the length of your stroke should not move past your feet. Once the paddle reaches this point, there is no power.

These simple concepts will take some time to master. So go easy and take your time. The goal isn’t to measure each stroke or count how many times you paddled left or right. The focus of the paddling motion is to track straight, get as much energy into the stroke with the least amount of energy expended and do so without injury.

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