3 Simple Steps To Improve Your Technique

by Jamie Perez

3 Simple Steps To Improve Your Paddle Board Technique

Step 1: Enhancing Your SUP Stance

A proper SUP stance will guarantee you the most balance and control on your paddle board. Below, I break down the most optimal SUP stance by proper foot placement and posture to make the most of your full body when you paddle.


 Proper SUP Foot Placement

One of the most common SUP mistakes beginners make is standing too far forward or backward on their paddle board. Consider this rule of thumb, the further you stand from the middle point of your SUP, the more difficult it will be to stay balanced and gain momentum when paddling.

The best spot to stand on your SUP is over the middle point. This is where you will feel most stable. Luckily, the middle point of your SUP is easy to determine because almost every stand up paddle board has a carry handle located there. 

The only time you should stand further back on your paddle board — assuming you’re not surfing — is if you have another passenger on board with you. Standing further back on your board will equally distribute the weight of your passenger on the nose of your SUP

Paddle Board Tips For Foot Placement:

  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart above your paddle board’s carry handle
  • Slightly angle your feet (about 15 degrees outward) from a parallel position
  • When paddling, distribute your weight evenly through both feet for the best balance
  • Never grip your toes to your SUP’s deck pad because you will lose your balance

Proper SUP Posture 

As crazy as it might seem, there are several ways to improperly stand on your SUP. For instance, standing with your knees bent too much and back hunched causes unnecessary back strain, and ultimately, leads to bad paddling habits. Study the paddle board technique tips below to acquire the SUP posture of a pro paddle boarder.

Paddle Board Tips For SUP Posture:

  • Your knees should be slightly bent so that you can just see your toes
  • Do not allow your knees to cave too inwards or outwards during your paddle stroke
  • Always keep your back straight 
  • Always look out towards the horizon
  • Your core should always be engaged 

Step 2: How To Hold Your SUP Paddle Like A Pro

Holding your SUP paddle incorrectly can cause serious fatigue to your arms, back, and shoulders. To avoid injury, your SUP paddle’s blade should always be bent away from you when paddling. This side of your paddle’s blade has the most hydrodynamic shape and will provide you with the most optimal paddle efficiency. A simple way to remember this on Cascadia Paddles is to check if the Cascadia logo is facing away from you and toward the nose of your SUP.

Step 3: Improving Your Paddle Stroke

An excellent paddle stroke separates the beginners from the experts. Your paddle stroke is the most important stand up paddle board technique to master. Those who have mastered their paddle strokes are able to cover more ground with less effort. Unlike your SUP stance, mastering your paddle stroke will take more practice. Below, you will find the three stages of a perfect paddle stroke.

Stage 1 – The Dip: While keeping your back straight, lean forward and submerge your paddle’s blade into the water. Having the full surface of your blade submerged is important because this is where the power behind your paddle stroke begins. In addition, try to keep the shaft of your paddle perpendicular to the surface of the water when submerging your paddle’s blade. This will also help drive more power out of each stroke. The more angled your paddle’s shaft is, the less power you create when pulling the blade through the water.

Stage 2 – The Power Phase: With your top hand gripping the handle of your SUP paddle and bottom arm reaching midway down the paddle’s shaft, pull through the water by engaging all the muscles in your core. Both of your arms should be as straight as possible when you complete your stroke with a full range of arm motion. Your top shoulder and core are rotating to propel you forward, utilizing your back and core muscles, rather than just your arms. It’s important to note that your core should be the main driving force in the power phase of your stroke. 

Stage 3 – The Release and Transition: Once you have completed your stroke with a full range of arm motion, your paddle’s blade should naturally exit the water. This is called the release. Your paddle stroke to release should feel like one solid motion. Once you release, position your paddle back to the front of your body to prepare for another paddle stroke. Remember to keep your core engaged and legs slightly bent while preparing another stroke.

Wrapping Up: Improving Your Paddle Board Technique

With some fine-tuning, your paddle board technique can improve immensely. Take these SUP tips and techniques above and start practicing them on your favorite body of flat water. Remember to give your knees a slight bend and use your core to give power to your paddle stroke. You will be paddling like a pro in no time.