SUP's Top Paddling Techniques: Stroke Particulars

Posted: Dec 02 2013

One key to standup paddling is dialing in your stroke. It’s not going to happen your first time out but with a little practice, you can create a paddling rhythm that’ll stick with you forever and make your experience on the water better every time out. For this stroke tutorial, we turned to professional instructor Jeff Sweet of Malibu, California, who's also a LairdStandUp Team rider.

  1. Speed is your friend. A lot of people, when they first get on a board, want to stand still to gain their balance. But a board is more stable when it’s planing or moving so get your paddle in the water and create momentum. Your paddle will act as a crutch and help you balance as you move forward. Then you can start breaking your stroke down into three segments.
  2. Reach. Reach your paddle blade out with your arms as straight as possible. This will help engage the core so you’re not using your arms alone during the course of your stroke. Reach out in front of you as far as you can.
  3. Catch the water. The catch starts when you get that paddle blade deep into the water. If you’re not using the full blade than you’re not using your paddle stroke to its maximum potential. Pull the blade smoothly through the water, removing the blade from the water once you reach your feet. If you let your paddle go past your feet than you’re creating drag and your stroke is less efficient.
  4. Now recover. Move your top hand down and bring your bottom hand forward to recover, reaching out again in front of you with your paddle shaft, again, keeping your arms straight and fully extended as your hips come forward and your shoulders move back. The blade is again at the reach position and you’re ready to start over again.  
  5. Just breathe. It’s sometimes difficult for new paddlers to get breathing down during the stroke. Focus more on getting the reach, getting the blade deep in the water, the catch and removing the blade at your feet followed by the recovery. You’re not trying to control your breathing but don’t forget to breath either.  Remember to keep a relaxed stance with your feet parallel and not too wide.


Written By Joe Carberry
for LairdHamilton.com