SUP boards can provide years of water-based fun and entertainment. But you have to know how to paddle. Do not assume that you can simply jump on an SUP and paddle like a pro the first time out. Practice makes perfect, and there are definitely a few things you want to avoid. Steer clear of the following 5 common SUP paddling mistakes and you will look and paddle like a pro every time.
1 – Paddling with the Blade Facing Backwards
Many paddles will have a slight bend just above the blade. It may feel backwards when you first get started, but you want the elbow of the paddle porting towards the rear of your SUP, not forward. This allows you to pull the blade out of the water at the end of your stroke without lifting water and making more work for yourself.
2 – Buying the Wrong Paddle
The most common SUP paddling mistake takes place before you ever get out on your board. Don’t buy the wrong type of paddle for your particular SUP activity. A surfing paddle should have a larger surface area than a cruising paddle. You can also purchase a middle-of-the-road paddle which is efficient, but not specialized, for both surfing and touring. Get the right paddle for your SUP outing.
3 – Using a Paddle That is Too Big for You
This is another common SUP paddling mistake. Generally, shoot for a paddle that is roughly 7 to 10 inches taller than you are for cruising, 6 to 8 inches taller for surfing and 10 to 12 inches for racing. A lot of variables come into play here, such as paddling styles, paddle blade shape and whether youre paddle has an angled shaft or not. But all in all, if you are reaching high above your head with your top hand when paddling, your paddle is probably too long.
4 – Paddling with a Surfing Stance
Both feet should be facing forward when paddling. Align them just about shoulder width apart, slightly back from the center of your board. As you get started, you may find that moving one foot just a bit ahead of the other provides more power and stability. Just don’t get into a surfing stance.
5 – Working Too Hard
When you become proficient on your SUP board, you will expend a minimum amount of energy and glide through the water like a fish. But when you first start out, you may be working too hard. Focus on form over effort. Take lessons if need be, and remember to let the blade and shaft do all the work, so you are not worn out after a few minutes on the water.