Everyone knows how to paddle their surfboard, right? Well it is one thing to paddle and it is a whole other thing to paddle effectively. In fact, proper paddling technique is one of the quickest ways to become a better surfer. Paddling correctly can help you move faster with less fatigue, catch more waves, surf longer, and be more comfortable in the water. Plus, when you’re catching more waves, that’s more opportunity to improve your surfing!
Paddling on a surfboard is similar to swimming (if you don’t know how to do that yet, you might have skipped a step in this whole “learning to surf” thing). You want to pull yourself through the water while having as little drag as possible. Our paddling guide covers the details of how to maximize the effectiveness of your paddle.
The first thing to be aware of when paddling your surfboard is where your body is positioned. If you’re too far to the nose or tail of your board, it will drag through the water and slow you down. If you’re too far to one side, you’ll be struggling to keep from falling off instead of using all your energy to paddle.
You want to find the sweet spot on the board where your weight is perfectly centered over the board’s buoyancy. If you’re on a shortboard, you’ll know you’re in the right spot when the nose of your board is just peeking out of the water, and you can lay motionless without falling off to one side.
On a longboard, you want to position yourself towards the middle of the board with your feet resting on the tail. If you’re too far forward, your nose will start to sink. If you’re too far back the nose will lift up, and you will feel the tail of the board dragging and slowing you down, or even sinking a bit.
Generally, no matter the board you’re riding, if you feel like you’re positioned too far in one direction, you probably are. Trust your balance and instincts. Once you’ve found the sweet spot, you’ll know. It’s like paddling out at your favorite break on a sunny day with a 3-4 foot swell – it just feels right.
Once you’re correctly centered on the board you need to be aware of a few other details of body positioning: your head, shoulders, and feet.
Your head should be up with your shoulders back. This allows you to see what’s in front of you (seeing where you’re going is generally a good thing, helps with not getting run over by other surfers) and puts you in a position to use your back muscles to paddle, in addition to your arms and shoulders.
Finally, keep your feet together. This will help keep you centered and balanced in the middle of the board. We can’t guarantee you’ll be existentially centered and balanced as well, but we hear enjoying a surf sesh because you know how to paddle helps with that too :)
Now that you’re correctly positioned on your board, you’re ready to paddle. While you paddle, you’ll want to make sure you’re focusing on some key techniques.
Even if you’re positioned correctly and your arms are ready to paddle, splashing around with your elbows perfectly bent and shoulders back still doesn’t get you anywhere. You have to use the right motion, step by step.
We know that’s a lot of information, so here’s a simple recap you can remember while you’re in the water:
Hopefully this guide gets you paddling faster and surfing more waves! Happy surfing! As always if you have any questions give us a call at the shop (800) 920-2363 or email email@example.com
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