A common mistake among paddle boarders is the way they hold a paddle board paddle. Although it’s pretty common, especially for people who are still trying to get the hang of paddle boarding, it’s something that you can and should work on.
If you don’t know the right way to hold a paddle, then paddle boarding might be cumbersome as your posture is incorrect. With such, keep reading as this article discusses exactly that.
- How To Find The Right Size SUP Paddle
- How To Hold A SUP Paddle The Right Way
- Techniques In Paddling
How To Find The Right Size SUP Paddle
Before you start paddling, you must first ensure that the paddle you’re using is the optimal length for you. SUP paddles come in different sizes. And some are adjustable, while some are fixed in length.
The adjustable ones allow you to change the length while you’re still learning to paddle. And this will enable you to lend your paddle to your peers who may be taller or shorter than you since they can adjust its length.
On the other hand, fixed-length paddles, as its name sounds, aren’t adjustable. But they’re on the lighter and rigid side, which makes it the optimal choice for professional paddle boarders.
Regardless of your choice, you need to make sure that you select the correct length that matches your height.
If you go for a paddle that’s too long for you, then it might be a hassle to move it around. Conversely, using a paddle that’s too short may be unwieldy as it’ll require you to bend over throughout your journey to reach the water.
To ensure that you pick the correct size, follow the guide below:
1. Place The Paddle Upright Where The Blade Is In Contact With The Ground
Stand the paddle up beside you and reach your arm over your head to see which part of the paddle it reaches. A paddle that’s optimal in size allows you to place the bend of your wrist on the paddle’s T-grp handle.
2. Measure The Length
The paddle should also extend over your head by a hang loose. To adjust the length, use a two or three-piece adjustable shaft.
3. Measure The Width
To measure the grip width, you can place the paddle over your head while bending your elbow at a 90-degree angle. Doing this will give you the optimal grip width.
How To Hold A SUP Paddle The Right Way
After knowing the right size of the paddle, then you can now start practicing how to hold a paddle board paddle. If you’re a beginner, then you may have been making the following mistakes that set beginners apart from professional or expert paddlers:
- Beginners often hold SUP paddles where the blade is bent towards them or backward.
- They also grip their hands too close from the shaft to the handle while holding the length of the paddle, but the correct way is to hold it at least shoulder-length apart.
These mistakes are pretty common, and believe it or not, holding the paddle this way is more intuitive for a beginner. However, paddle boarding requires specific techniques.
Before you can even go out on the water, you need to ensure that you have a proper hold of the paddle. Doing so allows you to speed up your stroke, which can allow you to speed up your movement through the water. That being said, here are a few things to take note of when you hold a paddle:
1. Take Note Of Your Posture
As a paddle boarder, having the correct posture is invaluable. Good posture allows you to maintain balance and remain upright while standing on your board. This also allows you to navigate against the waves, too. The correct posture also helps you in terms of holding the paddle.
That being said, your knees must be slightly bent. However, refrain from locking them in; otherwise, they’ll be too stiff.
Moreover, your upper body, including your back and shoulder, must not remain too rigid. Instead, maintain flat and straight shoulders without forcing it. The back must be naturally upright while positioning yourself at your waist.
2. Change Your Top Grip According To The Side You’ll Use
You probably rely on one side of the body more than the other. Depending on which side you rely on, you must adjust the arm over the other while holding the paddle.
For example, if you’re relying on the right side of the board, then your right hand must be on top of the left and vice versa. Doing this might feel weird initially, but once you start paddling more often, you’ll get the hang of it.
3. Keep Your Blade Placement In Mind
The blade’s angle is just as crucial as the paddle. The angle of the blade determines how easy or how hard moving through the water would be.
And as mentioned, most beginners keep the paddle and the blade near the body. Although this feels natural, it’s the wrong way of going about it.
What you need to do instead is to face the blade so that it’s away from your body. Doing so allows you to put more force on the water, which gives you better elevation and makes gliding easier. Conversely, doing the opposite produces more upward force, which causes a slowdown.
Techniques In Paddling
In addition, there are some techniques you must adhere to while you’re gliding through the water. Although these techniques differ, they all rely on treating your paddle as a lever. Generally, the head placed atop of the other should be the center of the rotational system.
And for other common paddling techniques, check them out below:
1. Turning By Using The Reverse Sweep Stroke
When turning right, you’ll need to position the paddle by the tail and draw to the direction of the nose while aligning your torso towards your right-hand side. Doing so enables you to turn your board towards the right.
Keep in mind that turning left or right will be more accessible the more your knees are bent.
2. Turning By Using The Forward Sweep Stroke
To turn, hold the paddle on the right-hand side while positioning your torso to the left. Try to maintain a low pose and haul towards the right near the tail using your paddle. Then, gradually twist and bend your torso to the left. Upon doing this, you’ll feel an instant turn to the left.
3. Paddling Forwards
Without moving a muscle, place your bottom arm straight. Haul your other arm near your body to position the paddle forward. Then, turn the upper shoulder towards the front and expand your reach.
You should also drop the paddle to the water as much as you can and imagine you’re gliding past your paddle.
To get in the hang of paddling, try to do this on one side a few times before proceeding to the other side. Keep in mind that you must change your hand’s position when you paddle towards the opposite side.
4. Paddling While Standing On Your Knees
Once you get the hang of the basic paddling techniques, you can then move towards paddling with your knees. By getting comfortable with paddling on your knees, you can start to move forward with paddling on your feet.
5. Using The Core Muscle To Paddle
Upon learning the basics, you can then proceed to enhance the prowess of your paddle stroke. Paddling with your core muscle allows you to remain on the board for more extended periods while increasing speed and efficiency.
When using your core, you must allow your hips and shoulders to turn along with the blade as you extend forward. While reaching for the catch, let your hips follow along while your shoulders rotate from the stroke. And while the paddle’s blade is gliding through the water, both the hips and the shoulders must go back in alignment.
Moreover, paddling with your core muscles requires you to maintain an elongated bottom arm. If your bottom arm is moving less, then that means your core muscles are active during paddling.
6. Paddling Using The Step-Back Turn Technique
The step-back turn is one of the more difficult stand up paddle board positions, but this is an excellent way of turning the board around efficiently. And this is known as the pivot turn or the buoy turn. The best thing about this, is you can apply a sharp movement regardless of the water’s movement.
However, maneuvering the board requires a few elements from you. First, you need to make sure that the paddle is parallel to your leash foot. Move the foot towards the middle of your board while taking a step back with the other. To maneuver, widen your strokes where the leash is on. Finally, putting more force on the back foot enables you to make a crisper rotation.
You’re more likely to learn how to hold the paddle correctly, from sizing up the paddle to knowing the techniques by doing the tips above. As a result, you can have a better paddle boarding experience. Just remember to check this guide whenever you get confused.