Paddling Fundamentals: The Next Step in SUP Paddling

Paddling Fundamentals: The Next Step in SUP Paddling

You can have the coolest looking board, like the Boardworks Raven 11’6” SUP with its Northwest Native American motif and bamboo inlays but if you don’t have the stroke down, and this board is one of the best all-purpose boards around, it’s all for naught. You’ll end the day tired and sore and never really push the board to its true potential. In a previous post, we discussed some of the basics of paddling, including grip, where the power comes from, and how to get the most out of each stroke. In this piece, we’ll take just a little bit further.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 1.46.04 PMIf you are doing it right, light grip on the top of the paddle, a loosely held paddle used to stab the water, and a pull in the stroke that goes no further than your foot, the majority of the turn will occur on the paddle side hip with that leg bearing the most direct pressure. It actually may seem quite intuitive for most paddleboarders, with the paddle side leg locking as you drive the paddle toward your foot, but a surprising number of beginners, and even some intermediate SUPers will stick their butt out when they do.

Why do I keep telling you to exit the paddle no further than your foot? Because beyond that, you get nothing, nada, zilch in the way of power beyond that point. And your butt will stick out as you try. The idea is strength with a certain amount of energy saving efficiency thrown in so you can last more than 15 minutes. You’ll stretch further in front instead of trying to pull the paddle further backwards. A good hip rotation will get that. If you are feeling it in your arms, you are not doing it right.

The real key is reach. You’re looking for the right spot where the reach you achieve doesn’t throw you off balance, doesn’t wear you out, and gets the most amount of power with each stroke.

I mentioned the Boardworks Raven earlier with good reason. This board has been described as nothing short of perfect. It’s lightweight, which means easy to and from the water, tighter than most with a dual density core, and durable. This is one of the few boards an advanced boarders weighing up to 275 lbs. can use without any serious impact in performance.

This is by no means the end of our discussion on how to paddle but this should help with some of the basics. Just listen to that little coach’s voice in your head: “reach dammit, reach”.

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