Stand up paddle boarding is about using a paddle to propel the paddleboard forward. If you know how to use your paddle correctly to take a stroke, it will make your trip much less tiresome and more enjoyable. But sadly, a lot of paddle boarders are doing it wrong. Here we will break down the details of taking a stroke correctly.
- Learn to maintain your balance on the board first.
Before you actually start paddling on your board, there are a few things you need to know. Standing on a stand up paddleboard is not like standing on land. It will get very unstable, especially when you are on choppy water. So the first thing you need to know is how to properly balance while you are standing on your paddleboard. The best way to maintain balance is the shoulder-width stance with your leg a little bent. It helps you to keep your balance when it gets rough on the water. It helps you control your board even when it's going up and down.
- How to hold a paddle correctly.
Here's how to hold a paddle properly. It might seem to be an easy thing, but trust me, there are a lot of details it contains that you don't know. The position of your hands on the paddle is important. Your bottom hand shouldn't be too high up or too low. In both cases it would make it awkward for you to perform a stroke. There's a simple way to see if you are hold the paddle correctly. Put your hands and your paddle over your head and see if the angle between the paddle and your hands is 90 degree. If it is, you are holding the paddle right. Try to remember that and start to take a few strokes.
- The right setup for strokes
The right setup for taking a stroke is sitting up tall so that it allows you to breathe that air in as you come forward for your next stroke. And if your hand position is right, you will be rotating through the trunk through the hips and rotating your upper body as well to come forward for that stroke. While doing this, you need to make sure that your bottom shoulder comes forward as well as your top shoulder is actually moving back around the axis of your trunk. Also, when you are rotating your body to take the stroke, make sure you don’t come too low. You’ll know you are doing great if you are able to come up nice and high and punch your shoulder and arm forward.
- The catch
The catch is an important part of your stroke. To make sure you don’t lose power when taking a stroke, you need to be sure that you are up front with a top hand and a bottom hand at the perfect position. Remember to fully extend your arms and come straight down like the paddle is falling into the water. If you simply move back without extending your arms completely, you will be losing power from up front. So be sure to stick to the downward position and really extend your arms and take the stroke like falling to catch the water up front.
- Pull phase
After sticking the paddle in the water, you will start to pull. And it’s not as easy as it seems, either. The pull phase comes right after a catch where we will be generating a lot of power propelling the paddle board forward. And the pull phase is the part to continue that power throughout the rest of your stroke. Once you are done doing the catch and you’ve come down and your blade is completely in the water, the next part you need to consider is having your pens and fingers nice and firmly on the blade. The right way to pull would be to pull your body towards the blade instead of pull the blade towards you. Focus on bringing your body towards the blade and keeping the blade vertical and avoid turning that angle over too fast. If you can’t keep the paddle vertical and turns the angle too fast, you will be losing a lot of water as well as power from your blade. So remember to keep the paddle vertical as long as possible. By bringing your body towards the paddle, you will keep the blade angle and hold a lot more water. It helps to make your stroke a lot more powerful and your board go faster and longer per stroke.
- The exit
Don’t lose focus after the pull phase because the follow exit is just as important as the rest of your stroke because you will still need to maintain the power and the speed that you generated in the previous phases. When we are coming through with the blade and bringing our body towards the paddle, we are coming forward for the exit. The key is to press down with the top arm and not forward because if you press forward, you will turn that into a negative and it will become like you are just lifting up water and pushing the back of your board down and taking away from that forward momentum. In order to make a nice and strong exit, you need to make sure that you are continuously bringing your body forward to meet that paddle through the hip and your body. Pressing the top arm all the way down but not forward because it helps to keep the paddle in the right angle. And when the exit comes, just lift your paddle up with a nice little flick. Try twisting the blade and lifting the paddle up and shooting your full body forward like you’re about to make a step on your board.
After taking a nice full stroke, you will need to know how to recover. This is also a process that includes some important details that are often ignored by beginners. Don’t rush into your next stroke after fishing one. Take the time to recover from the previous stroke. The right time to do a good recovery is after your exit when your body is coming forward. Stand up nice and straight so that you can take a deep breath in before taking another stroke. You can loosen your finger to prepare them for the next stroke. Try not to choke on your board because you will be wasting energy and your arms and fore arms will get tired very soon. Just stand up tall and loose your fingers. When coming forward, you want to see your blade. Don’t get too low or too high, the most ideal position would be when you are able to see your blade right in front of you with the loose fingers and recover to the setup position afterwards.
Here's a video guide to show you how to take SUP strokes correctly:
If you are confident that you can acquire all those skills mentioned above quickly, go ahead and get yourself a nice stand up paddle board and head out to the water.