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The Power of Proper Technique with the Paddle Boarding Paddle Stroke

The Power of the Paddle  by Sheree Lincoln

Choosing the Proper Paddle Board Paddle Length

Proper paddle length for sup - image

First take a hold of your paddle by the shaft because the first important thing to do is to figure out how tall or long you want the paddle set for your height. Later you can learn to adjust for the type of paddle boarding you plan to do. More about that in another article.

A good place to start, when adjusting the height or length of your paddle, is to place your wrist on the top of the paddle handle. This is the appropriate height. Next place your hand on the paddle grip until it is resting comfortably in your palm, with your knuckles parallel to the sky.

Proper Placement of Hands on Paddle Shaft?

If your hand is wrapped too far forward on the handle or too far down the shaft, you will get a weird bend in your wrist and it will feel uncomfortable. With the first segment of your fingers resting on the top of the paddle, you will have great range of motion.

Next, it is important to find the balance point of the paddle. A really good way to do this is to raise your hands above your head, resting the paddle shaft on the crown on your head with arms in a goal post position.

Hand placement on paddle shaft - image

Why is My Paddle Shaft and Blade Face at an Angle?

Paddle entering water - image

It is also good to make sure the paddle blade is facing the right direction. You can lose a lot of power in your stroke if the power face is not facing you because the paddle may feather or flutter (wobble) as it goes through the water. The logo sticker should be visible when looking down on the paddle as it enters the water. the angle of the shaft to the blade at an angle is called a dihedral. I have paddle with blades with the common 10% dihedral found on many paddle boarding paddles. I have also paddled with blades that sport no dihedral at all. The angle effect flutter more than efficiency when paddling. It is important to note that If you pull the paddle to you, using your lower arm, it can easily cause tennis elbow because you are using small muscles. Instead we stack our hands to one side and place the blade in the water toward the front of the board about 2 feet, entering the water at an angle, as if we were stabbing a fish. This is called the reach.  After planting the paddle toward the bow (front) of the board as far as we can comfortably reach, we can then push the shaft handle forward using are strong shoulder and core muscles together. 

To switch sides take your top hand and place it below your bottom hand as you are lifting the blade of the paddle to the front of the board and across to the other side of the board getting ready for your next stroke. At the same time you  slide the hand that is now on top up  the shaft until your palm is resting against the handle with your fingers resting over the top of the handle like we began. 

Proper Stance When Paddle Boarding?

Comfortable Paddle Boarding Techniques

You should be in an athletic stance with your legs shoulder width apart and your knees soft so that you can easily balance on the board. As the blade enters the water push your top hand forward as if you were trying to push someone in on their shoulder. This uses big shoulder and arm muscles and will allow you to paddle longer without tiring.  Your stroke for touring may be different than for racing. These ladies are enjoying a comfortable reach as their paddle enter the water because they are focused on the view, being in the moment and enjoying their surroundings. You can see in the photo that the two ladies on the left are just at the point where they will push their paddle handle forward, their lower hand and the paddle shaft will come naturally to their hips before the stroke starts again. Please note that if you paddle too long on one side you will start turning. We will talk about switching your stroke from side to side in another article. Tip: In order to switch sides it’s important to not throw the paddle from side to side because you could lose your paddle and then you have no way to go. 

Casual paddle stroke technique - image
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