Knowing how to hold a stand up paddle board paddle is crucial for getting the most our of your board, stroke, and stance. Below, we dissect the anatomy of the paddle itself, optimal blade direction, grip, and hand position. We’ll show you how to put more power in your stroke so you can paddle faster, further, and have more fun on the water! It’s not just your posture and balance that affect your ride as a paddler. Your understanding of how to use your paddle and taking advantage of its key characteristics are crucial.

Understanding Your Stand Up Paddle Board Paddle

Before diving into techniques and tips, it’s crucial to start at the very beginning by understanding the SUP paddle itself. While paddles vary in design and construction, they universally consist of three fundamental sections: the blade, the shaft, and the handle. But, regardless of how many pieces the paddle is made out of, there are a few key parts of a stand up paddle boarding paddle that remain consistent throughout most designs.

THURSO SURF paddles are often adjustable 3-piece paddles. On the entry-level end of the spectrum, the 3-Piece Adjustable SUP Paddle is more durable, solid, no-frills option made with carbon fiber and a fiberglass shaft. And for more advanced paddlers, the carbon elite slitted paddle is a super lightweight, super performancr of technological art, engineered with precision-cut grooves for reduced water resistance and peak rowing efficiency.

Parts of SUP Board Paddle

  • T-Bar Grip – T-shaped ergonomic top of the paddle designed to fit comfortably in your hand.
  • Paddle Shaft – The long cylindrical part of the paddle where the other hand is placed.
  • Throat – Where the shaft meets the blade and begins to widen out.
  • Blade – The flat, wide part of the paddle.
  • Tip – The end of the blade.
Graphic shows the different parts of a stand up paddle board paddle

Basic parts of the SUP Paddle.

SUP Board Paddle Clever Design Features

You won’t find these features on all paddles but they’re worth seeking out when deciding which SUP paddle to choose.

The scale seen on the shaft below the T-bar allows users to accurately adjust their paddle to their desired length. After you’ve found your ideal length (learn how to do this here), just remember the numbers and you won’t have to guess again. Then you’ll be able to resize your paddle to exactly where you want it, simply by adjusting it to your number even while you’re out on the water.

Moving down the shaft are the two dual lock pin and clasp mechanisms. With a satisfying snap and click, these mechanisms securely fasten your blade, eliminating any wobble or play. You can even attach a second blade to convert your SUP paddle into a double bladed kayak paddle. That way if you grab a kayak seat you’re good to go. No need to buy an entirely new paddle.

To enhance recognition and ensure ease of orientation, we’ve taken innovation a step further by incorporating unique graphics on each side of the paddle blade. When you’re out on the water, you’ll notice a distinct ‘T’ logo strategically positioned to face you with every stroke and instantly know it’s facing the right direction.
  • Scale – Adjust the paddle to your desired length.
  • Dual Lock Pin & Clasp – Spring ball and lock mechanism for quick and easy assembly. Locking clasp doubly secures your blade.
  • Front Face of Paddle Blade – Easily identify the front face of the paddle blade with our logo graphic.

SUP Paddle Board Direction: Blade Angle Explained

As seen in the graphic of the SUP paddle, the blade does not descend straight down from the shaft. Instead it’s at an angle. The reason it’s at an angle is that it helps to push the water down giving you thrust. That in turn pushes your board up (creating less friction on the water) while driving you forward. However, to take advantage of you SUP paddle’s design you have to hold your paddle correctly.

Graphic shows how the blade of a SUP paddle is at an angle

You can easily identify the front face of the blade by the recognizable graphic. If you can see it as you paddle, you’ll know you’re holding the paddle correctly.

How to Assemble Your Paddle

Taking your paddle sports experience up a notch means not only understanding the basics but mastering the assembly of your paddle for SUP. Our detailed video tutorial is your go-to resource, meticulously explaining each component of the paddle and guiding you through the assembly process. It doesn’t stop there; sizing your paddle for a perfect fit is crucial, and our tutorial covers this essential step comprehensively.

So, immerse yourself in our tutorial, pair it with the article for an in-depth understanding, and make sure to revisit the video as a quick refresher before you venture out onto the water. This blend of visual and written guidance ensures you’re well-equipped for a seamless paddling experience.

How to Size a SUP Paddle

Heading out to the water? Hold up! Ensuring you’re armed with a paddle of the correct length is crucial to your comfort and performance while stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). A paddle that towers over you can be unwieldy, turning your paddling session into a struggle, while one that falls short forces you into an uncomfortable, hunched posture.

SUP paddles come in two main varieties: fixed and adjustable lengths. Opt for a fixed-length paddle if you’re looking for a lighter, more rigid option, ideal for long-distance tours or competitive races. On the other hand, adjustable paddles offer the flexibility to tweak the length to your liking, perfect for beginners honing their skills or when sharing with friends and family of different heights.

Here is a simple way for you to measure the ideal paddle board paddle length:

  • Vertical Test: Place the paddle upright with the blade touching the ground.
  • Arm Reach: Extend an arm above your head to measure where it meets the paddle.
  • The Wrist Rule: A well-sized paddle will have its T-grip handle aligning with the bend in your wrist, ensuring an ergonomic and efficient paddling stance.
    Graphic shows how the blade of a SUP paddle is at an angle

    You can adjust the length of a stand-up paddleboard paddle for different activities.

    For a deeper dive into selecting and sizing your SUP paddle, don’t miss our detailed guide, “How to Size Your SUP Paddle” Packed with insights and tips, it’s your go-to resource for making an informed choice, ensuring every paddle stroke is a breeze.
    RELATED: How to Size Your SUP Paddle

    How to Hold a Paddle Board Paddle

    So, how do you hold a paddle board paddle? It is quite straightforward, yet it’s crucial. When gripping the paddle, make sure the blade angles away from you. This means that when the paddle is held vertically and you can see the face of the blade, the tip should be tilted away from your body. This angle is crucial for efficiently propelling yourself forward. At the beginning of your stroke, the correct blade angle helps lift the nose of your board out of the water. As you lean forward into the power phase of your stroke, the blade should be perpendicular to the sea floor, driving you forward swiftly. For a visual reference, please refer to the accompanying image.

    Graphic shows how to hold a SUP paddle in the right direction

    The paddle blade angle should tilt away from you when held correctly.

    Gripping Your SUP Paddle Handle and Shaft

    Gripping your paddle correctly will help you improve your stroke. It allows you to paddle further, faster, and more comfortably. And that of course means having more fun! You want one hand on the top of the paddle. It’s called the top grip or sometimes referred to as the T bar because of its shape. The other hand should then be used to grip the shaft. Make sure it’s at least a shoulder width apart from your other hand on the top. If your hands are too close together you lose power in your stroke. Whereas, a shoulder width or wider grip gives you the torque you need to pull yourself through the water efficiently. Give it a try yourself next time you’re on the water to get a feel for it. Stack your hands together so they’re too close at the top, then widen your grip so one hand is almost at your paddle blade. Right away, you’ll feel a huge difference in how easy (or difficult) it is to pull yourself through the water.

    Graphic explaining how to hold a SUP paddle with perfect grip

    An easy way to make sure your hands aren’t too close or too far apart.

    Mastering Your Stroke

    Mastering the correct grip and paddle technique leverages your paddle’s design for a stronger, more efficient stroke. This not only benefits competitive SUP racers but is invaluable for recreational paddlers as well, enhancing control, reducing fatigue, and making activities like wave surfing more enjoyable.
    Here’s a breakdown of essential SUP strokes and tips to help you refine your technique:

    • Forward Stroke: Aim for extended reach and complete blade immersion for maximum thrust. Keep your arms almost straight, engage your core, and alternate sides to maintain a direct path. Imagine forming an ‘A’ shape with your body and paddle for perfect posture.
    • Reverse Stroke: Use for deceleration, stopping, or sharp turns. Maintain straight arms and rotate your torso for effective movement control, allowing the paddle’s direction to guide the board’s turn.
    • Cross Bow Stroke: Facilitate precise turns without changing your stance by rotating your torso and placing the blade on the paddle’s opposite side, ensuring agility and accuracy.
    • Sweep Stroke: For turning while stationary or in motion, adjust your stance with slightly more knee bend than for the forward stroke. Lower the paddle to just below shoulder height. When paddling on the right, bring your right shoulder forward, submerge the paddle blade fully at a perpendicular angle to the board, and perform a broad arc from the board’s nose to tail, using your torso rotation and leg leverage for motion. Paddling on one side results in turning in the opposite direction.
    • Draw Stroke: Essential for moving sideways, such as approaching docks or altering course. Turn your shoulders toward your intended direction, reach out sideways to place the paddle parallel to the board with the blade facing it, and pull towards you to move laterally. Slide the paddle towards the nose or tail to release.
    diagram show how to hold a paddle board paddle and correct paddle stroke posture

    Infographic: the elements of a perfect stroke point-by-point.

    RELATED: The Best Paddleboard Stroke For Beginners
    Now that you know how to hold paddle for SUP properly, your overall efficiency on the water will improve. And that makes your SUP experience all the more enjoyable. It’s human nature to doubt how much these minute adjustments make, but if you don’t believe us get out there and give it a try for your own validation purposes. You’ll quickly realize having your hands in the correct position make a huge difference. In no time, finding the correct grip will be effortless and you can concentrate on the most important part of paddle boarding … having fun!

    Now it’s time to put what you learned to the test. Get out there and give it a try yourself!




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    About the Author: Matt G.

    Matt Gelgota is a traveler and all around digital marketing guy. His greatest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile unsupported on and off-road saga from Sweden to Mongolia. He has visited more than 50 countries and has been paddling a Thurso Surf Expedition since 2018. Since then he’s had a chance to paddle board in Nepal, Thailand, Japan, and the US. When he’s not on the road he divides his time between Tokyo and Atlanta, Georgia.

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