starboard 2024 inflatable sup paddle boards

How to hold a SUP paddle

How to hold a SUP paddle correctly

One of the most common, if not the most common, faux pas in paddle boarding is to hold and use the paddle the wrong way around! Don’t worry, everyone does it, even yours truly had a few moments where paddling felt weird and worked funny until I realized that the paddle was the wrong way around. Every seasoned paddleboarder gets a good laugh out of all the beginners using the paddle the wrong way, we’ve all been there and we’re allowed to laugh. It is even in our list of top 10 tips for stand up paddle boarding rookies!

So, why do we all get it wrong? Well, when we are stand up paddle boarding for the first time, we all tend to start out on our knees and hold the paddle by the shaft and down near the blade. What happens now is that we try to paddle way out in front, which is correct technique, but we notice the blade is at a funny angle this way, and it makes more sense for it to be vertical and around that way to scoop the water better. Since we aren’t holding the handle yet because we are lolly gagging on our knees, we don’t feel that the handle grip is around the wrong way and therefore the paddle is around the wrong way.

Once we move to our feet though, or have been advised by fellow paddlers, between their chuckles, we notice that the paddle handle feels weird and that the blade does in fact work better the other way around. At this point, standing, we can see how the blade tracks through the water and is vertical when we are putting in the most power in the blade. Using your core also angles the paddle shaft more and promotes a better and more efficient technique. Also, the paddle blade trails the shaft and does not flutter. Flutter is when the blade vibrates or slips side to side as we pull it through the water. Very detrimental to power transfer to the water and extremely fatiguing to the arms and shoulders, even to the point of injury or tendinitis.

Now that we have the paddle facing the right way, let’s make sure the you have the paddle measured correctly.

So, when you go out to paddle for your first time, remember to check which way the paddle is facing. If you’re an old hand at this, don’t be shy in helping others out and getting them stoked on our awesome sport!

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About the author: Julian Kidd
I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from a decade of professional kiteboarding to focus on SUP. Green Water Sports grew from this love of all things SUP. As well as being a keen paddle boarder, I'm a football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.