Basic SUP Paddling Techniques

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 to. So we’re here with the lowdown on some basic SUP paddling techniques to make sure you’re paddling in proper form.

Basic SUP Paddling Techniques:

Get Yourself a Good Paddle

Beginner SUP Paddling

SUP Surfing Paddling Technique

SUP Kayaking Paddling Technique

Get in Touch for More SUP Paddling Tips


Get Yourself a Good Paddle

Before we talk about your SUP paddling technique, let’s make sure you’ve got a great SUP paddle. Believe us, all SUP paddles are not the same.

  1. iROCKER and BLACKFIN paddles are lightweight for a reason. After all, less weight means you can SUP longer.
  2. Our paddles adjust to your ideal length. Some like it long. Some like it short. Luckily, you decide! Our paddles adjust to the length you like and they also pack down to just 35” for convenient storage and travel. (We vote for travel!)
  3. Our paddles float. Enough said.

Ok, now that you’ve got a great SUP paddle, let’s talk about how to use it.

Beginner SUP Paddling

If you’re a SUP newbie, you’re in great company. Every SUPer was a newbie at one point. And you’re in luck because you haven’t developed any poor paddling habits yet.

If you’re not a newbie, maybe there’s something you can learn that can help improve your paddling technique.

First things first — learn to hold your paddle correctly. This makes all the difference in the amount of work you need to do to glide through the water, regardless of your SUP sport. It also makes a difference in safety, turning and a bunch of other things you need to know for various SUP sports.

Here’s a handy visual for the right way and wrong way to hold and angle your SUP paddle:

A lot of newbies get the blade angle wrong and feel they need to “scoop” the water. Nope. If you make this mistake, flip your paddle around and feel the difference. Aaaahhh!

You also want to tweak your paddle length. This is a personal preference kind of thing, though the general guideline is to adjust your paddle length to about a foot taller than you are. We recommend trying a few different lengths til you feel comfortable, steady and confident.

Confidence takes practice and time. Don’t give up. You can do it!

For some extra pointers, fast-forward to the 2-minute point in this handy instructional video.

SUP Surfing Paddling Technique

Once you get the hang of SUP on the flat, you’ll probably start to begin thinking about new ways to SUP. You can SUP with your pup, try SUP yoga or, if you’re the high-energy type, you’ll want to try SUP racing or SUP surfing.

You’ll want to be comfortable with your board and your paddle before taking on rapids or ocean surf. But you knew that, right?

Next, you want to have some know-how and a plan. With SUP surfing, you’re working on much more than balance and speed. You need to know how to use your body and your paddle to control your board angle, turns and speed.

Many SUP surfers say they like to adjust their paddles longer for surfing than for SUP on the flat. We tend to agree. Again, this is a matter of personal preference so try it different ways til you get the right feel.

Once you have the feel and the paddle length right for yourself, practice keeping your iROCKER at a 90 degree angle to the surf. Can you guess the best way to move your board in the surf? Yep, with your paddle.

The technique for doing this involves simply alternating paddle strokes from one side to the other while keeping the rail of your board above the water.

Paddle a few strokes on one side, then switch to paddle a few strokes on the other, then repeat. You don’t have to paddle the same number of strokes on each side. Paddle enough strokes to control your board and keep it pointed to where you want to go.

An aside: We wrote some time back about the amazing history or SUP. Check it out here. It’s a great read.

SUP Kayaking Paddling Technique

SUP kayaking is coming on fast as one of the trendiest ways to enjoy your iSUP. There are many reasons for this, from injury recovery, exploring areas with lots of vegetation and simply trying a new sport. We also like SUP kayaking for introducing friends and family to SUP.

We offer a SUP to Kayak Conversion kit that allows you to convert your board to kayak mode in just a few minutes. The kit comes complete with a kayak seat and paddle add-ons. If you already have either of these, you can buy the parts separately here and here.

Our kayak seat attaches to built-in fittings on your board and it’s quite easy to put it all together. Getting the kayaking paddle technique down is slightly trickier.

For professional kayak paddling tips, see this tutorial that shows you how to hold and use your paddle the right way. You’ll see some blue arrows on the right side, next to the text instructions. Click any arrow to zoom the graphic into the corresponding image for a close-up look at how to do it.

The basic kayak paddling technique involves using your strong hand to control the paddle and your weaker hand to balance and steady the paddle. You’ll notice that the paddles do not face the same direction. This is for your benefit and is the very basis for kayak paddling.

Get in Touch for More SUP Paddling Techniques

We realize this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. After all, there are so many more ways to SUP than what we’ve covered here. So if you have a SUP activity you love and want some insider tips, get in touch for more SUP paddling techniques or to share tips of your own. We love hearing from our SUP fans!

Get in Touch for More SUP Paddling Tips

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