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Improve your paddle board technique drastically with these four easy adjustments. They aren’t complicated or difficult, but will help you improve your overall SUP skills. By fine tuning a few key areas you will see an improvement in your comfort, efficiency and capabilities as a stand up paddleboarder.

Easily improve your SUP technique

These are common mistakes or sometimes just bad habits, so don’t worry they’re simple to correct with a few easy adjustments. The main areas to focus on for fine tuning your stand up paddle board technique include your posture, stance, grip and stroke. We’ll dig into each of these to explain why it’s an important area to improve on as well as how to make the easy adjustments. In the end, you’ll boost your paddle board technique and see your overall SUP performance improve drastically.

Woman pushes Thurso Surf Tranquility Yoga SUP away from beach to practice paddle board technique

Getting ready to practice some easy adjustments to their stand up paddle board technique on the Tranquility.

Paddle Board Technique Adjustment 1: Achieve the proper STANCE

Your feet form the foundation for your stand up paddle board technique. Overall, the way you stand influences your posture and stroke, so getting your stance right is important. Nevertheless, it’s an easy adjustment to make and its effects will help your overall SUP performance.

Focus On Your Footwork

For the best performance, make sure you are not too far forward or too far back on your board. You’ll notice you’re too far forward if the tail of your board is coming out of the water. And, if you’re too far back the nose of your SUP will be out of the water. So shimmy your way to a middle point that keeps your board (from nose to tail) flat on the water.

Now that you’re in the right position, make sure your feet are pointed forward. It’s OK to angle them outward a couple degrees. You just don’t want to point them too far outward or inward because that will affect your balance.

Man standing on Thurso Surf Waterwalker All-around SUP

Adjusting your stance will help improve all aspects of your paddle board technique.

Bend at the Knees

Lastly, with your feet in the proper position you also want to bend your knees slightly. Keeping your knees slightly bent allows them to act as shock absorbers. Think of them like the suspension of a car that cushions the ride. They help to reduce the wobble of your board which can throw off the other aspects of your paddle technique. As you’ll see with the others this is an easy adjustment to make that benefits all aspects of your paddling performance.

Paddle Board Technique Adjustment 2: Correct your POSTURE

Posture is often overlooked, but a crucial ingredient to stand up paddleboarding. Luckily this easy adjustment will help you improve, not only your comfort, but your overall efficiency and capability as a stand up paddleboarder. An improper posture can lead to unnecessary strain on your back, arms and legs. Basically, having a bad stance simply makes stand up paddleboarding harder on yourself. But no worries, it’s easy to correct.

Start with the Foundation

Since your stance is the foundation and base of your power make sure you’ve got that right (as explained above). An incorrect stance leads to poor posture and a proper stance almost forces you into a good posture naturally. With your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent, do your best to keep your back straight and engage your core.

Straighten Up and Paddle Right

By keeping your back straight you’re able to transfer more of the effort to your arms, core and legs. This distribution helps to improve your comfort and efficiency and therefore your overall endurance.

Man paddles with dog on Thurso Surf Waterwalker All-around SUP

Keep your back straight and knees slightly bent as you paddle.

Engage Your Core

It might seem slightly awkward at first, but perform a few strokes while focusing on your posture and you’ll quickly realize how much more power you get form each stroke. You’ll also notice that your balance and stability is greatly increased with a good posture. Leaning one way or the other can throw off your paddle board technique and that lack of stability just makes paddling harder.

Paddle Board Technique Review – STANCE and POSTURE

  • Keep your feet roughly shoulder width apart
  • Keep your knees slightly bent to use your leg muscles like shock absorbers
  • Keep your back straight to help distribute the effort to your arms and legs
  • Engage your core to improve efficiency and endurance


Paddle Board Technique Adjustment 3: GRIP your paddle like a pro

Your paddle is what propels you across the water, so getting your grip right is crucial for getting the most out of your stroke and stance. This easy adjustment to your paddle board technique will help you increase the power of your stroke so you can paddle faster and farther.

Paddle board technique - Blade angle of a Thurso Surf stand up paddleboard paddle explained

You can easily identify the front face of the blade by the logo and graphic. If you can’t see it as you paddle, you’ll know you’re holding the paddle correctly.

Face Front

First off, always make sure your paddle blade is facing the right way. You’ll notice the blade of your paddle is bent at an angle. The reason for this design is that it works to push the water down, which gives you additional thrust all the while helping to keep your board flat on the water. So remember you want the paddle blade angle to face away from you.

Paddle board technique - Thurso Surf explains how to hold a stand up paddleboard paddle correctly

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

Grip Your Paddle for Power

Lastly, for proper paddle board technique, you want to get your grip right. One hand goes on the top of the “T” bar and the other is placed on the shaft. Don’t place your hands too close together or too far apart because that can reduce the power of your stroke. There’s a simply way to overcome this which is explained in the graphic below. Have a look and give it a try yourself

Paddle board technique - Thurso Surf explains how to grip and hold a SUP paddle correctly

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

Paddle Board Technique Adjustment 4: Perfect your STROKE

Perfecting your stroke takes some practice and experience, but it’s easy to adjust if you follow these tips. The best thing to do is simply pay attention to how it feels when you’re out on the water. Ask yourself, “Am I getting enough power from each stroke?” And “Am I feeling any discomfort? If so, where?” If you’re new to the sport, there may be some muscle soreness caused by activating muscle groups you’re not use to. That’s OK, just make sure to stretch before and after, which is a good habit regardless of your skill level. What you’re looking for is any joint pain or acute discomfort. Pain during your stroke rather than soreness after is a good indicator that your form could be improved.

Assess Your STROKE

You might be reaching too far out or pulling with just one muscle group instead of using your entire body. Luckily, if you’ve been conscious of your stance, posture and grip, you should be able to avoid this. However, if you’re still feeling discomfort have a look at the graphic below to make sure you’re following each element of a perfect stroke.

Paddle board technique - Thurso Surf explains the elements of a perfect SUP stroke on Thurso Surf Expedition Touring SUP

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

Pay Attention to Your Reach

If you feel like you’re comfortable, but not getting enough power, think about the phases of your stroke. Aim to place the paddle in the water a comfortable distance ahead of you toward the nose of your SUP. This is called the reach. An overly-short reach may keep you from getting the drive you need.

Catch the Water with Authority

Another common issue with paddle board technique could be the catch phase of the stroke. This is when the blade enters the water. You don’t want to slap, jab at the water or leave your blade only partially submerged. You need to place the paddle blade fully in the water perpendicular to you with authority. Think of your paddle as an extension of your arms. When swimming, you want to make a full, confident stroke. Do the same on your paddle board. Pull the paddle along the length of the board until it reaches your feet. Make sure you hold it tight enough that the blade doesn’t flutter.

Paddle Board Technique Review – GRIP and STROKE

  • Make sure the paddle blade angle is facing away from you
  • Don’t place your hands too far apart or too close together
  • Reach your paddle out a comfortable distance in front of you
  • Place your paddle in the water with authority (no slapping or jabbing)

These Paddle Board Technique Adjustments Add Up to Results, Fast

The combination of fine tuning each of these areas with a few easy adjustments will help you see results fast. You’ve learned how to improve your posture, stance, grip, and stroke with a few easy adjustments to your paddle board technique. Now you’re ready to get out on the water and give it a try. You’ll quickly recognize what areas you need to work on. Then, as a more capable a stand up paddleboarder, you’ll reap the rewards of a more comfortable, swift, and efficient ride!


Author Admin

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Michele says:

    This is one of the best guide I found online!
    Using the stand up paddle is really importance to have a correct stance and to paddle with the correct technique and this guide helped me to correct some basic errors.
    Moreover, it is really important to use a paddle built with good material and the CARBON paddle I received with the Thurso Waterwalker is well made and it works very well.
    It is not common to find a carbon paddle in a SUP package in the Waterwalker price range!

    • Social @ Thurso Surf says:

      Hi Michele,

      So stoked that you’re having a blast with your new Waterwalker! We’re huge fans of the carbon paddle too. Once we tried them ourselves, we knew we couldn’t go back so, we decided to include a carbon shaft paddle in every SUP package we make! Really glad you’re getting a lot out of the guide. Hit us up right here or at contact[at]thursosurf[dot]com with more questions or to talk gear and paddling anytime!

      See you on the water,

      Social @ Thurso Surf

  • orewa surf says:

    Your article is quite helpful! I have so many questions, and you have answered many. Thank you! Such a nice and superb article, we have been looking for this information about paddle board technique. Great post…

    • Social @ Thurso Surf says:

      Thanks for the love! Let us know how you progress! Enjoy the waters down in NZ!🇳🇿

      Keep paddling,

      Social @ Thurso Surf

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