SUP paddle technique

Hier sind die besten Tipps zur Paddeltechnik, die ich über die Jahre gesammelt habe.

(Deutsche Version folgt in Kürze)

The speed at which you paddle, depends on 2 factors:

  • distance per stroke
  • stroke rate

To paddle faster, you need to increase either one, or ideally both. There is no one technique that fits all, it depends on your size, weight, fitness, shoulder flexibility, board and paddle type, but here is a collection of the tips about paddle technique that we found most useful

#1 Reach, reach, reach: Remember, the first part of the stroke is the most effective part.

throw your lower shoulder to the front and the top shoulder back in order to reach far out to the front.


#2 Push the blade in hard, using your whole body

The harder you push the blade in, the more effective the stroke will be. Dont just use your arms, use your whole upper body to push the blade into the water and pull through. You can practice this on land first. Take an alloy paddle, put it on the floor as you were putting it in the water and try to break it with your body power. Then try it in the water. Try to paddle with a power on a scale from 1 to 10. Start with level 1 and after 5 strokes, move to level 2, and so on, up to 10. Can you feel the difference? As you keep practicing this, your “10” will increase over time, making you faster.

#3 Don’t loose time when pulling the paddle out

When you pull the paddle to far back behind your body (“negative angle” = blade angle facing to far backwards), it gets hard to pull it out. What also helps with pulling out, is to quickly angle the blade to the side (90 degree turn towards the board), this will lower water resistance.

 #4 Don’t loose time when bringing the paddle to the front

A mistake many beginners make is bringing the paddle to the front in a wide, circular motion. While you are taking your paddle back to the front, your board looses speed. This means, the longer it takes to bring the paddle to the front, the more momentum and speed you will loose. Bringing the paddle straight to the front is much faster than doing a long detour over the side. Besides the circular motion can give you shoulder and spine problems.

Push the paddle down with your whole upper body and then, while taking the paddle out, quickly put your body upright again, by throwing your hips forward. When you feel your blade is hitting the water while trying to bring the paddle to the front, forcing you to do a wide circle, you should check your paddle length. It might be too long….


#5 Don’t loose time when changing sides.

Eric Terrien showed me his technique. Use the time where you are moving the paddle to the front (this is ineffective time anyway). While you are throwing the paddle to the front, slide your lower hand up the shaft (Eric slides the paddle between his thumb and his index finger.

#6 At the end of each stroke, take a little break and re-assess.

That’s another thing I learned from Eric. At the end of the stroke, briefly relax your muscles, assess your stroke (was it a good stroke? what could I have done better?) before you throw the paddle in at the front again. This brief relaxation will make you go faster longer.


Here is a nice video graphically analyzing paddle strokes: