How To Paddle Faster!

by | Aug 14, 2019

Improving your paddle stroke means catching more waves longer sessions and more fun

For anyone starting surfing or even an experienced Surfer will know the feeling of missing a wave by one or two strokes, not quite being in front of the wave as it peels or freaking out when you’ve missed the perfect set wave. Very frustrating

This is the same for anyone who has ever felt tired just paddling back out to the lineup the longer you spend paddling back out the more waves you have to go through the more paddle strokes you have to put in but an improved paddle stroke and faster paddle means you get back out faster. There is nothing worse than being gassed getting back out to the lineup when the perfect set wave is rolling in and you’re out of energy

tips for technique

Unlike swimming, you will want to keep your head out of the water for obvious reasons and keep looking at the Horizon where you want to go. Limiting your head movement from side to side will  lessen the yawing side to side motion of your board in the water keeping your board flat and plaining will drastically improve speed and forward direction


Just like any movement whether it be in the gym or in a sport you don’t want to have your body tensed up this goes for shoulders back arms neck anything that is engaged when paddling this does not however, mean you should not be engaging back shoulders for the movements necessary

Technique tends to go out the window when you’re tensed up you will see this in all kinds of sports and even life when someone’s tense  technique fails

 3 Phase paddleing

The Paddle technique can be broken down into different phases the catch phase  where the hand enters the water and starts to dig or catch water the power phase and the release

Very different to swimming and paddleboarding the power phase  is in a different position in swimming most of your power comes from the second half of your stroke in paddleboarding it’s the first half but on a surfboard the power is generated in the middle three quarters like shown below.

 training / practice and strength

There are many ways to improve your paddle strength resistance bands training on a paddleboard or simply surfing more are all ways to improve your paddle strength if you’re not lucky enough to have waves all year round. gym or home exercises to improve paddle strength are your best option

Simply paddling a surfboard on a calm day will improve your strength keeping in mind good technique all the time you are training

A good thing to try when training is to put a bit of tape on the front of your board and right things to remember

For myself I write “look up” and “high elbows”

Just like being tense when paddling, being tired will be another way you lose technique. Naturally, you will want to stop take a break but you will see the symptoms of being tired when  releasing your arm after a stroke, Elbows dropping and a much smaller power phase

Top Tips To Remember for good technique

Nose out of the water  – position yourself on the middle of the board will keep your nose out of the water and your tail almost sitting flat with the waterline when paddling. 

Too far forward and your nose will drag under.

Too far back and you will be dragging your feet – both of these are inefficient for faster paddling

Head up and looking where you’re going keeping your head still will reduce sway in the board

Body Central On the board feet together to reduce drag – If your body is not center on the board you will overcompensate one side more than the otherm, resulting in a tipping motion. Reaching more on one side to paddle and paddling deeper on the other.

Having your feet together will reduce drag and improve momentum

Long full paddle Strokes vertically in the water –  making sure your elbows are out of the water when not paddling is just as important as having your full arm in the water when paddling a deeper more vertical stroke will produce a stronger paddle and propell you forward faster

High elbows in the catch phase –  if you’re elbows are low they will hit the water when your arm enters and slow you down this will result in a week paddle and drag keeping elbows high while your hand enters the water will result in less drag and a stronger power phase

Momentum and planing speed –  Although this may seem more scientific when it comes to water science Hull design and a multitude of other veriables paddling on a surfboard should be a continual motion.

the more consistent and fluid your paddling the better your plaining speed, similar to riding a bike in high gear.  if you’ve ever tried to pedal a bike in a high gear from a standing still position it can be very tough. A side to side wobble and having to exert more energy to get going, this is similar in surfing, paddle boarding, sailing, once you have water continually running under your board keeping that momentum is far easier an efficient than paddling slowly.

In addition to this, a faster weaker paddle is more effective than a powerful slow paddle because the loss of momentum outweighs the power

I hope this has been helpfull to read. if you are new to surfing or looking ot improve on other aspecs see some of our related blogs below

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