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How paddling will make you a better surfer

surf paddle technique

If your goal is to become a better surfer, one of the first things to do is to work on your paddling. The wrong paddling technique will only lead to frustration and discouragement, and the better paddler you become the more waves you’ll catch and the more efficient you’ll be. To improve your paddling there are two main things to focus on: your position on the board and your paddling technique.

Board positioning

The purpose of a correct board positioning is to achieve as little resistance as possible against the water. That means if you are lying on your board too far forward your nose will sink or too far back the tail will dig, making the board feel like a handbrake, which will slow you down.

Whether you are on a shortboard or longboard, you want to make sure the board is as flat as possible on top of the water. To start with, make sure you are lying in the centre of the board, keeping the stringer in the middle and aligned with your body. Arch your back to take weight off the nose of your board, keep your legs close together and engaged to prevent you from bogging the tail down and creating drag. That means most of your weight will be put around your body centre: your hips, stomach and ribs. By positioning yourself on the board following these indications, you will avoid dragging yourself through the water. Instead, you will “glide”, being much more efficient with your paddling.

If you're new to surfing, make sure you download our FREE beginners guide to surfing today!

Paddling technique

Once you have found your “sweet spot” on the board, it is time to use the right technique to achieve your full paddling power. The goal is to move as much water as possible in an efficient way. Use your forearm and hand to move faster instead of just moving water around without creating any or little movement. Use long and full range strokes as you would do with swimming freestyle. Extend one arm forward over the surface to avoid dragging water on the way, then bring your hand and forearm underwater once you have reached your full range of motion. Pull the water back towards the tail with a long strong stroke. Go back until your arm is extended and exiting the water, then start with the next arm. Make sure to keep your arms close to the board and not paddling wide as this will waste your energy and give you a lack of forward propulsion.

Note that only your arms are moving, the rest of your body stays still and balanced over the board. Your chest and chin stay up looking where you want to go while keeping the nose of the board 1-2 inches from the water. Keep your feet and legs together, and do not let them open wide, this will help keep you centred on the board.

Now, both skills must come together for your paddling to be efficient. We know, easier said than done right? That is why we have put together the Paddle Squad Surf getaways program! If you are looking into perfecting your paddling technique and want to do it in a fun and challenging environment, join us. You will find a rad group of women to share the process with, whilst getting fit and improving your surfing skills.


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