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Knowing how to hold a SUP 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!

Getting a grip on how to hold your SUP paddle

max multi-purpose all-around SUP paddle attachment feature

Your board can hold a paddle too on and off the water with its built in paddle mounts!

Parts of a SUP Paddle

Paddles come in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few key parts of a SUP paddle that remain consistent throughout most designs. These are the sections that you’ll hear referred to by most SUP instructors and experienced paddlers. It’s pretty straightforward but it helps to know exactly what someone’s talking about when looking for instructions on how to hold a SUP paddle.

  • T-Bar Grip – T-shaped ergonomic top of the paddle designed to fit comfortably in your hand.
  • 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.
basic SUP paddle diagram

Basic parts of the SUP Paddle.

Clever Design Features

You won’t find these 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 once in standing and kneeling position, 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. They offer fast and easy assembly with a reassuring snap and click and they ensure sure your blade is doubly secured to your paddle. You can even attach a second blade to convert your SUP paddle to a kayak paddle.

To make it easy to identify, we put our logo on the front face of the blade. You should be able to see the graphics facing you as you paddle and instantly know how to hold a SUP paddle correctly.

  • 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 diagram features

Additional features on Thurso Surf’s SUP paddles.

SUP Paddle 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 design 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.

font of blade angle

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

To hold your blade properly is quite simple, but it’s fundamental. It’s important to master this key technique. Holding the paddle backwards or incorrectly makes the engineering behind the paddle’s design work against you. Instead, it should be driving you forward fast. Make sure the paddle blade angles away from you. When you’re holding your paddle perfectly vertical and can see the face of the blade, the tip of the blade should be tilted (at an angle) away from your body. Please see image for clarification.

blade angle front facing hold SUP paddle correctly

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

At the start of your stroke a correct blade angle will push the nose of your board up and out of the water. As you lean forward into the power phase of your stroke, the blade will be perpendicular to the sea floor to drive you forward fast. Head here for more on the Best Paddleboard Stroke for more on the phases of a powerful SUP stroke.

One Simple Trick That Guarantees Your Paddle Angle Is Correct

Since beginners may not notice when they’re holding their paddles backwards, we made it easy. Thurso Surf paddles only have graphics on the front of the blade. As long as you can see the graphic when you grab your paddle, you’re good to go with a correct blade angle.

Gripping Your SUP Paddle

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 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.

diagram explains how to hold and grip SUP paddle correctly

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

Getting Your Hands in the Perfect Position

Before you can truly improve your overall technique it’s essential to focus on hand position. Paddlers often keep their hands too close together or too far apart. But don’t worry there’s a trick to overcome this.

With one hand on the T-Bar grip and the other on the shaft, raise the paddle over your head. Imagine you’re trying to make the letter ‘Y’ with your hands. Now bring the paddle down until it’s resting on the top of your head. Position your hands so that your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. With one hand on the T-Bar grip and that elbow at a 90 degree angle, slide the other hand along the shaft until it’s at a 90 degree angle too.

Now your hands are  in a powerful position to get a solid stroke!

waterwalker all-around SUP dog man

The hand that grips the shaft should be the same as the side you’re paddling on. When paddling on the left, your left hand is on the shaft.

Which Hand Goes On The T-bar Grip And Which Goes On The Shaft?

Which hand goes on top and which hand is placed on the shaft of your SUP paddle depends on which side of the board you are paddling on. Your outside arm (lower placement) should hold the shaft. Your inside arm (upper placement) should grip the top. So, if you’re paddling on your left, hold the shaft with your left hand and grip the top with your right hand. If you’re paddling on the right, hold the shaft with your right hand and grip the top with your left hand.

See the image above for clarification of what it looks like when you’re paddling on the left. Simply reverse your hand positions to paddle on your right. Experiment yourself while you’re out paddling and you’ll quickly understand why.

max multi-purpose all-around SUP kids beach walking

Time to grab your SUP paddle and board and head out to the water with an improved ‘grasp’ of things.

Holding The Paddle Correctly Puts More Power In Your Stroke

With the correct grip, you’re taking advantage of your paddle’s design. That translates into a stronger stroke. A stronger stroke gives you more power and control as you paddle. Now that you know how to hold your SUP paddle properly, your overall efficiency on the water will improve. And THAT makes your SUP experience all the more enjoyable. In no time, finding the correct grip will be effortless and you can concentrate on the most important part of paddleboarding, having fun!

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

combined SUP paddle diagram
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