You’re now familiar with paddle boards, how they work, and how to get on the water. Good for you! However, once you’re cruising across the water, you’ll need to make a couple of turns or movements. As easy as this may sound, your turning style will be determined by your skill level, board type, and surroundings. Our helpful guide will explain some of the paddling techniques you can try on a SUP, as well as strategies to enhance your stand-up paddleboard technique - from learning how to turn, to getting your posture right. Let’s get right to it!
Working on Your Stand Up Paddle Board Technique
Even the most experienced stand-up paddleboarders could always use some help when it comes to improving their paddling technique. Once you’ve gained enough confidence in the water, examine your actions to see if there are any areas where you can improve for a more effective stroke.
HOW TO MOVE ON A SUP
Once you launch you paddle into the water, lean forward and pivot your hips with your shoulder in front of your paddling arm. The top of the paddle should be vertical in the water at this moment. Observe if your positioning is correct and if you have enough extension when doing so.
You can now pull the paddle back (as if it were a lever) to move it in front of your face. When the paddle reaches the middle of your board, it should be at its deepest point in the water. Positioning yourself correctly improves the effectiveness of your strokes and aids in propelling you through the water.
Tip: Ensure your paddle slices into the water gently. This way, you’d avoid any form of splashing.
HOW TO TURN ON A SUP
Classic Turn (Basic)
On inflatable stand-up paddle boards, most newbies will employ the classic turn to navigate the waterways. The classic turn is one of the simplest to execute because it only requires you to place your paddle on the opposite side of the board. If you wish to turn right, for example, you paddle on the left, and vice versa.
- Make sure both of your feet are in the middle of your board before turning. One foot should be slightly ahead of the other, which will help keep the board steady as you turn.
- Place the paddle on the opposite side of the direction you want to turn and start paddling in the same way you would if you were paddling in a straight path.
- Continue paddling on this side until your board has turned completely. Then begin paddling on the opposite side and alternate strokes to progress forward once your board has changed direction.
Tip: To turn faster, make short and semi-circular strokes towards the back of your board. Because the turning circle is relatively large, give yourself plenty of room. This stand-up paddleboard stroke method should not be used by stand-up paddleboarders on long touring boards because it takes too long to rotate. The back paddle would be more effective.
The Back Paddle
You can improve your stand-up paddleboard skills by learning to back paddle once you’ve mastered the classic turn. You can turn faster using the rear paddle since it is more efficient. Stand-up paddleboarders with long touring boards should employ this technique rather than the classic turn because it is more suited to their board.
- Begin paddling on the same side as the direction you want to turn. Drag your paddle backwards rather than forwards (this means you have to begin at your feet and push your paddle towards the front of your board).
- Continue paddling from the other side of your board with a sideways stroke once your board has turned 90 degrees (with your hands in the very same position as back paddling, but on the same side of your board as you're moving). This will allow you to accelerate out of the turn.
The Pivot Turn
More proficient stand-up paddleboard racers may choose to utilize the pivot turn to demonstrate their racing skills. A pivot turn helps you to turn quickly and efficiently, which is especially beneficial for navigating obstacles on a stand-up paddle racing course.
- Choose a point where you wish to turn and fix your gaze on it, then stop paddling as you get closer to enable your board to glide in.
- Create a surfboard posture by putting your main foot in front. To transition into this position quickly, position your back foot over the fin and then swivel your front foot so that it’s side on.
- Begin paddling on the side of your board that you wish to turn (as in the conventional turn paddling method) and press hard onto your back foot such that the front of your board rises above the water.
- Continue paddling in rapid, short strokes. With each stroke, the board should move around swiftly, moving the nose around. Return your feet to their original positions to exit the turn and begin paddling on alternate sides.
Tip: Pivot turns are extremely unstable, so keep your balance in mind. You want to get the front of your board as high out of the water as possible when doing a pivot turn. Shift your weight as far backwards as possible to achieve this. Your rear foot gets the bulk of the weight, while your front foot serves solely to keep you balanced. Before turning, ensure your weight is on your back foot.
Getting your posture right!
Moving on to the body as a whole — your posture. Your paddle technique is greatly influenced by how you stand and position your shoulders, spine, and hips. A simple and easy approach to perfect your paddle boarding and take it to the next level is by improving your posture.
We must keep our body straight and aligned vertically in the same way that we keep our weight central horizontally over the board. Throughout the session, you should keep an eye on the following five areas on your body:
- Feet – parallel above the centerline, shoulder width apart.
- Knees - should be slightly bent and supporting your legs softly.
- Hips - should be square and forward facing.
- Shoulders – relaxed and held back while maintaining a straight back.
- Arms – should be both relaxed and powerful
Regularly performing system check on your body is an excellent habit to develop; even the pros do it! Maintain a straight back with everything aligned in order to get the most potential out of your paddling.