Paddle plays an important role in stand up paddle boarding and not a lot of people know how to adjust it to the right height for themselves.
In this post we will show you a few ways for you to find the most suitable paddle height for yourself.
Having the paddle adjusted to the correct paddle height is more important than you’d think. On the one hand, the paddle height would affect your learning of different paddling techniques. On the other hand, having the right paddle height could help take the pressure off our body, thus lowering the odds of us getting injured during paddling. So if you paddle a lot, you’ll probably want to find the most suitable paddle height for yourself because it will significantly lower the risk of injury when you are paddling. Here’s how you can find out the recommended paddle height for yourself.
If you just start to learn how to paddle board or have been doing it for a while but just want to do it for recreation, then the ideal paddle height would be eight inches above your head.
A lot of people’s purpose of paddling is to work out or get fit or even participate in a SUP race. If you are one of those people, the most ideal paddle height for you would be 6 inches above your height.
For those who want to achieve the highest speed on their paddle board, adjust the paddle to as tall as you or 4 inches taller than you.
You can use your paddle board for various activities and there’s no one universal standard for paddle height for all those activities. We always advice paddlers to adjust the paddle to the most suitable height for that particular activity to get maximum power and comfort out of every stroke.
It's particularly important to get the right paddle height for SUP surfing. Different people will use boards of different shapes and sizes, and they all require different paddle height. Generally, if you use a smaller board, you might want to adjust your paddle to your eyebrow level or up to your head. For larger boards, the ideal paddle height would be two to four inches above your head.
Here’s more details about why it’s so important to adjust your paddle to the right height.
In short, paddle height is determined by how much of the blade is submerged in the water when you make a stroke. An ideal stroke is having the blade fully submerged in the water. If part of the shaft is in the water when you take a stroke, that basically means your paddle is too long for you. If the blade isn’t fully submerged in the water, then the paddle is too short. When adjusting your paddle height, you also need to take the thickness of the paddle board you use into consideration because bigger volume means more flotation. So the bigger the volume of your board is, the higher you will sit on the water, and that requires you to have a higher paddle height.
Most beginners or intermediate paddlers tend to have a more relaxed and upright stance. When you are standing taller like this, you should have a longer paddle height to complement the higher stance. If you used to paddle on a hard paddle board but recently switched to an inflatable paddle board, you might want to extend the length because inflatable paddle boards are usually significantly thicker than hard paddleboards which means you are further away from the surface of the water.
For intense paddling like training, SUP racing or whitewater paddling, our suggestion is to adjust your paddle a little bit shorter than usual because when you do these kinds of SUP activities, you are usually more bent over and closer to the water than usual. Typically a paddle adjusted to the length that’s six inches above your head would be ideal.
If you are interested in sprint racing, note that there are typically two types of boards: normal deck boards and dugout design boards. The difference in height standing above the water between these two boards means you need to adjust the paddle height accordingly.
If you are going out to paddle for the first time and don’t know how long you should adjust your paddle to, just start with adjusting it to as tall as you or up to four inches above your head. When deciding the final paddle height to go with, be sure to take the volume of your board into consideration.