How do I paddle on a paddle board?
How do I paddle on a paddle board

Welcome to the beautiful world of paddle boarding! Whether you are a seasoned water enthusiast or a beginner looking to try something new, paddle boarding is an exhilarating and rewarding experience.

But before you hit the water, it’s essential to master the basics of paddle boarding, starting with the paddle technique. This section will guide you through the essential knowledge and skills to become a confident paddleboarder.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the paddle technique is crucial for mastering paddle boarding.
  • The right equipment and proper body positioning are essential for effective paddling.
  • Forward paddling is the foundation for all other paddleboard strokes.

Getting Started: Choosing the Right Paddle Board

We must ensure we have the right paddle board before we can hit the water and start paddling.

Choosing the perfect board can make all the difference in your paddling experience, so it’s essential to consider your needs before purchasing.

One of the first things to consider is the size of the board. The general rule is that the larger the board, the more stable it will be.

If you’re a beginner or plan on using your board for leisurely activities like yoga or fishing, a broader and longer board will provide more stability and comfort. However, if you’re looking for a more challenging and adventurous experience, a smaller and narrower board will offer more speed and maneuverability.

Aside from size, you’ll want to look for a board with good stability. Stability is determined by a combination of factors, including the shape of the board, the thickness, and the volume.

A board with a wider tail and a rounded nose will be more stable, especially for beginners. It’s important to note that stability can also be affected by your weight and height, so make sure to factor those in when choosing your board.

Finally, consider the paddling you plan on doing. If you’re interested in touring or racing, you’ll want a board with a longer and narrower shape for better speed and efficiency.

If you plan on doing yoga or fishing, look for a board with a broader deck and more stability for comfort and ease of movement.

Essential Gear: Picking the Right Paddle

Having the right paddle can make all the difference in paddle boarding. Choosing the right paddle length, blade shape, and material can significantly impact your performance on the water.

Firstly, let’s talk about paddle length. Your height and the paddling you’ll be doing should determine your paddle length. A good rule of thumb is to choose a paddle 8-10 inches taller than you are.

This will give you the proper leverage and power to paddle effectively. However, if you plan on doing more shallow water paddling, you might consider a shorter paddle for better control.

Next, we have a blade shape. The shape of your paddle blade can affect the amount of power and control you have while paddling.

A wider blade will give you more power, whereas a narrower blade will offer more control. Choosing a blade shape that complements your paddling style and preferences is essential.

Finally, let’s consider paddle material. Paddles can be made from various materials, including wood, aluminum, and carbon fiber. Wood paddles are the most aesthetically pleasing and are a favorite among traditionalists.

Aluminum paddles are durable and affordable, making them an excellent option for beginners.

Carbon fiber paddles are lightweight and offer maximum performance but come at a higher price. Consider your budget and paddling needs when selecting a paddle material.

Proper Body Positioning: Finding Your Balance

Before we can begin paddling on a paddle board, we must achieve proper body positioning to ensure stability and balance.

Finding balance on a paddle board is essential for effective paddling and avoiding falls. Here are some critical tips for achieving the proper paddle board stance and body alignment:

Step Description
1 Stand in the center of the board with your feet shoulder-width apart, parallel to the stringer (middle line of the board).
2 Bend your knees slightly to lower your center of gravity and maintain balance.
3 Keep your feet pointed forward and avoid twisting or turning them.
4 Engage your core muscles to maintain a stable body alignment.
5 Look ahead, not down, to maintain proper posture and balance.


Finding the right balance on your paddle board takes practice and patience. Don’t be discouraged if you fall off a few times initially – it’s all part of the learning process.

With practice, you’ll soon be able to maintain a stable body position on your paddle board and enjoy the benefits of effective paddling.

Basic Stroke Techniques: Forward Paddling

Forward paddling is the foundation of paddle boarding, and mastering this technique will make your paddling experience more enjoyable and efficient.

The key to efficient forward paddling is to focus on your paddle stroke technique, paddle cadence, and torso rotation.

Forward stroke technique: To execute a proper forward stroke, reach forward with your arms straight and place the paddle’s blade in the water before you.

Pull the paddle back towards your feet in a smooth and controlled motion, keeping the blade perpendicular to the water’s surface. Remember to keep your arms straight and use your core for power, not your arms.

Paddle cadence: The cadence of your paddle stroke is how often you paddle on each side. A consistent cadence is essential to keep the board moving smoothly and efficiently. A good starting point is to paddle two or three strokes on one side before switching to the other, but adjust this based on your preference.

Torso rotation: This is the key to efficient and powerful paddling. The rotation of your torso generates more power than just using your arms, making it easier to maintain a consistent cadence. To do this, plant your feet shoulder-width apart on the board, engage your core muscles, and rotate your torso with each stroke.

You can paddle further and faster with less effort by mastering proper technique, cadence, and torso rotation. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed and maintain a comfortable posture while paddling.

Turning and Maneuvering: Mastering Different Strokes

While forward paddling is essential for moving straight on a paddle board, being able to turn and maneuver is crucial for exploring different areas and navigating varying water conditions.

This section will cover three essential stroke techniques for turning and maneuvering: the Sweep Stroke, Reverse Stroke, and Pivot Turn.

Sweep Stroke

The Sweep Stroke is used for turning the board efficiently. To execute this stroke, start by positioning yourself at the center of the board with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Then, place your paddle blade in the water near the board’s tail at a 45-degree angle.

Next, sweep the blade out towards the tail of the board while rotating your torso and shifting your weight on the opposite side of the board. This will cause the board to turn in the direction of the stroke.

Reverse Stroke

The Reverse Stroke is used for slowing down or stopping the board, but it can also be used for turning. To execute this stroke, start by putting the blade of your paddle behind you and in the water at a 45-degree angle.

Then, pull the blade towards you while rotating your torso and shifting your weight to the same side as the blade. This will cause the board to turn in the opposite direction of the stroke.

Pivot Turn

The Pivot Turn is an advanced maneuver that lets you turn the board around in a tight space. To execute this turn, start by positioning yourself towards the back of the board and placing your paddle blade in the water near the board’s tail at a 90-degree angle.

Then, pivot your feet towards the direction you want the board to turn and push down with the paddle blade while lifting the nose of the board. Finally, pivot your feet back towards the center of the board and continue paddling in the new direction.

Using these stroke techniques will improve your performance and enable you to easily handle different paddling situations on a paddle board.

Dealing with Challenging Conditions: Paddling in Wind and Waves

While paddle boarding is a fun and serene activity, paddling in windy and wavy conditions can be challenging even for seasoned paddlers. This section will share tips to help you paddle effectively in rough conditions and maintain stability.

Paddling in Wind

When facing wind while paddle boarding, adjusting your technique to maintain control of your board is essential. To paddle effectively in the wind, try the following tips:

  • Paddle on one side of the board to minimize the impact of the wind.
  • Use shorter strokes and keep the paddle closer to the board to reduce wind resistance.
  • Lean forward on the board to keep it from tipping over while keeping a low center of gravity.
  • Please wear appropriate clothing to stay warm and dry, as the wind can make the air temperature feel more relaxed than it is.

Paddling in Waves

When paddling on an ocean or lake with waves, it’s essential to maintain control of your board to prevent it from tipping over. Here are some tips to help you paddle in waves:

  • Approach waves at a perpendicular angle to minimize their impact on your board.
  • Paddle harder and more frequently to maintain momentum and control.
  • Use a broader stance on the board to maintain balance and stability.
  • Keep your eyes on the horizon to anticipate incoming waves and adjust your approach accordingly.

Safety should always be your top priority when paddle boarding in challenging conditions. Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) and avoid paddle boarding in conditions beyond your skill level.

Advanced Techniques: Surfing on a Paddle Board

Now that you’ve got the basics, it’s time to take your paddle-boarding skills to the next level and catch some waves! Paddleboard surfing is a thrilling experience that requires a unique set of skills and techniques.

The key to successful paddle board surfing is selecting the right wave. Look for waves that are not too steep but have a good amount of power behind them. As you paddle towards the wave, keep your weight centered on the board and your gaze fixed on the horizon.

As the wave approaches, paddle with quick, powerful strokes to catch the wave. Once you feel the wave catching you, shift your weight forward and adjust your stance to a surfing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Keep your back straight and your gaze fixed on the beach.

When you’re ready to ride the wave, use your paddle to steer and maintain balance, shifting your weight to stay on the board. Always keep your eyes on the horizon to stay ahead of the wave and adjust your position accordingly.

As you gain more experience in paddle board surfing, you can start experimenting with different maneuvers, such as carving and cutbacks. The key is to stay calm, confident, and flexible, adapting your technique to the changing conditions and enjoying the ride!


Congratulations! You’ve completed our guide to mastering paddle boarding basics. By now, you should feel confident choosing the right paddle board and paddle, finding your balance, executing proper stroke techniques, and even navigating challenging conditions and catching waves.

Remember that paddle boarding is a fun and great workout that can improve your physical and mental health. So, grab your gear, head out to the water, and enjoy the benefits of paddle boarding.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you paddle board, the more you’ll improve and explore new techniques and skills. So, don’t hesitate to try new things and challenge yourself to become a better paddleboarder.

We hope our guide has been helpful and informative. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact us. Happy paddling!


Q: How do I paddle on a paddleboard?

A: To paddle on a paddle board, you must stand at the center of the board with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the paddle with one hand on the handle and the other on the shaft.

Dip the paddle’s blade into the water, reaching as far forward as possible, and pull it back towards your body using your core muscles. Repeat on the other side to maintain a steady paddling rhythm.

Q: How do I choose the right paddle board?

A: When choosing a paddle board, consider your weight, skill level, and intended use. Longer and broader boards provide more stability, while shorter and narrower boards offer better maneuverability. Choosing a board that suits your needs and preferences is essential.

Q: How do I pick the right paddle?

A: Paddle length, blade shape, and material are crucial when selecting a paddle. The paddle should be approximately 6 to 10 inches taller than your height for general paddling.

The blade shape can affect your stroke efficiency, and the material can impact the weight and durability of the paddle.

Q: How do I find my balance on a paddleboard?

A: Finding balance on a paddle board involves standing with your feet parallel and hip-width apart. Keep your weight centered over the board and maintain a slight knee bend for stability. Practice shifting your weight and adjusting your body position to maintain balance while paddling.

Q: What is the technique for forward paddling?

A: To execute a proper forward stroke, reach the paddle blade as far forward as possible before immersing it in the water. Pull the paddle backward, using your core muscles to generate power.

Rotate your torso and engage your shoulders to maximize the effectiveness of each stroke. Maintain a steady cadence to achieve a smooth and efficient forward paddling motion.

Q: How do I turn and maneuver on a paddle board?

A: Different strokes can be used to turn and maneuver on a paddle board. The sweep stroke involves sweeping the paddle away from the board in a wide arc, while the reverse stroke is used to paddle in reverse.

To execute a pivot turn, plant the paddle in the water and use it as a pivot point to rotate the board around.

Q: How do I paddle in windy and wavy conditions?

A: Paddling in windy conditions requires a lower stance and a more powerful stroke to maintain control. When navigating through waves, keeping your weight centered and using your core muscles to stabilize the board is essential. Anticipate the timing of the waves and adjust your paddling technique accordingly to maintain stability.

Q: How do I surf on a paddleboard?

A: To surf on a paddle board, position yourself in the lineup and paddle towards an incoming wave. As the wave approaches, paddle hard to match its speed and angle your board towards the shore. Once you feel the wave lift you, pop up to a standing position and adopt a surfing stance to ride the wave.

cropped cropped Chris Miller SUPNoob
Hello, I'm Chris Miller, a passionate enthusiast of SUP BOARD and the proud owner of As an avid paddleboarder, I have spent years exploring the world of stand-up paddleboarding and honing my skills on the water. With a collection of prizes under my belt, I have become well-versed in the intricacies of this exhilarating sport. What sets me apart is my commitment to sharing my knowledge and experience with beginners and fellow SUP enthusiasts alike. Through, I strive to provide valuable insights, tips, and resources to help individuals delve into the world of stand-up paddleboarding with confidence.