Stand up paddle boarding is absolutely amazing for getting fit, staying fit, having fun with friends and family. and even getting some solo Zen time when you need it. Depending on how you like to SUP, your paddling technique might need a tweak or two. So we’re here with the lowdown on some basic SUP paddling techniques to make sure you’re paddling in proper form.
Choosing a Great SUP Paddle
All SUP paddles are not created with the same engineering genius. That’s ok, but you want to be sure you get the best paddle for your fun and safety. We love ours, of course, and for good reasons:
- A great SUP paddle should be lightweight. iROCKER and BLACKFIN paddles are designed to be both light and sturdy. Believe us, if you’ve been paddling with an old-school paddle, you’re going to notice the upgrade!
- A great paddle should adjust to your preferred length. Paddle length is part science and part personal preference. This is why we build our paddles to adjust to your liking. Also, since SUP lovers are all about travel, we designed our paddles to store at a compact 35”.
- A great paddle floats. Because even great paddlers drop their paddle every now and then.
Basic SUP Paddling Techniques
Whatever kind of paddler you are — from the quiet and calm type, to a high-energy thrill-seeker — there are some basic SUP paddling techniques you should know.
First, you want to be sure you’re holding your paddle correctly. Seems obvious but actually, proper paddle and blade angle can trip up just about any paddler.
Before we dig into the details, take a look at this diagram for the right way to hold a paddle:
Getting the paddle angle and height right make a big difference in your SUP experience. Once you’ve got it right, it will feel right. So go ahead and practice getting it right.
Even if you’re a veteran SUPer, it’s always a good idea to test your paddle length. You might find that as your skill level increases, you may want to lengthen your paddle. You’ll most certainly want to make some adjustments with higher-energy SUP sports (more on that in a moment).
The general rule of thumb about paddle length is to adjust your paddle to about 12” longer than your own height. Start there then tweak until you can comfortably maintain the posture illustrated in the above diagram.
Again, this is a matter of personal preference. As it is with so many things, practice makes perfect.
How to Paddle for SUP Surfing
Once you’ve got basic SUP paddling mastered, you might start thinking about mixing things up. With SUP, you have many choices! There’s SUP with your best mate, SUP yoga, SUP fishing and, if you’re the high-energy type, you’ve got to try SUP surfing.
One of the most exciting and trending SUP sports happens to be SUP surfing. It’s not for everyone and of course, you need access to some great surf. (Winter holiday, anyone?)
But if you’re up for some SUP surfing, we’re all for it! As a matter of fact, SUP got its start thanks to the original old-school surfers. We wrote about this some time back. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, give it a read. We promise you’ll enjoy it.
To surf safely (and look selfie-worthy) with your iSUP, you need to know some basics for using your paddle and your body weight to control your board angle, speed and direction.
For starters, you might want to adjust your paddle to a slightly longer length. The goal here is using your paddle to control your direction and keep your board at a 90 degree angle to the waves. A longer paddle gives you a little more control here.
Next, you want to work on your paddling technique. With SUP surfing, you’ll take several strokes on one side, then several on the other, repeating through the ride to maintain that 90 degree angle. This is the fun part so ride it out and if at first you don’t succeed, try again!
How to Paddle for SUP Kayaking
Another red-hot SUP trend is SUP kayaking. We love it! Some people look to convert their iSUP to a kayak in order to join kayaking mates or even to take a seat for injury recovery.
The fact is, you don’t need a reason to try SUP kayaking. It’s an awesome mash-up and definitely needs a top spot on your list of new things to do with your board.
You’ll need a kayak seat and second blade for your paddle to get started with SUP kayaking. Ours are not only low-priced, they’re also easy to assemble and use. Our iROCKER and BLACKFIN boards come with integrated fittings to attach the seat, and the second blade pops right onto your existing paddle.
Getting the kayak paddling technique down is slightly trickier than the easy-breezy assembly but don’t worry, we’re here to walk you through it. We absolutely love this animated tutorial. Use the blue arrows on the right side to drive the cartoon on the left. You’ll see the right way to hold and use your kayak paddle.
You’ll see from that tutorial that the essential kayak paddling technique requires you to use your stronger hand for controlling the paddle, and your weaker hand for steadying the paddle. Once you master the basic rhythm, you will see how you can use your paddle to control turns and speed.
Contact Our Team for More SUP Paddling Techniques
Of course, there are so many awesome ways to SUP. These are just a few of our faves. If you’re craving more info, please contact our team for more SUP paddling techniques. Use the fields below to reach out or message us on Facebook. We’re here to help you love SUP!