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Common Paddle Board Mistakes

Common Stand Up Paddling MistakesFirst time on a Stand up paddle board?
Great feeling. Great time! So many folks are amazed at how hard it is to even stand up and maintain balance. A mixture of frustration and elation!

I was out today and met a first time paddler. He boasted how good he was going, and how he’d SUP’d up and down the beach 8 times. Sure was impressive – it was a fair distance, and he looked a very fit bloke as well.

Beginners have so much energy for a new sport that it’s easy to invest many hours at the start enjoying the buzz. But what a waste of energy if you’re putting all that effort into practising the wrong thing!

Read on about a few mistakes that other newbies are making (probably not you though… ;-))

Not using your legs.

First time paddlers tend to lean forward at the waist, and use their arms like they’re stirring a big bowl of soup. Completely neglecting the bigger muscle groups – back, core & legs.


Gripping the paddle with arms too close together

You get no leverage this way, and usually a symptom that you’re using your arms, and again .. not your powerful back, core & legs.


Looking at the board

Looking down at their feet the whole time, it’s surprising they don’t beach themselves. Your body follows where you look.


Not putting the paddle in the water

Only putting half the paddle in the water, and splashing water everywhere when stroking?!


Paddle not entering the water forward enough, and remaining in the water way past your feet

Doing this, you’re missing out on the most powerful part of the stroke, and paddling past your feet is counter-productive and energy sapping.

The solutions…

Common Stand Up Paddling MistakesAs Mr Myagi said in Karate Kid, “First come balance. Then everything else follow”.

Some suggestions to fix your stance, and fix your stroke. The benefits you will soon reap are stability and a powerful stroke for less effort.

Some fundamentals first:

The power source:

Here’s a tip – it’s not your arms. Sure, it looks like paddlers use their arms, but the arms are simply the “structure” or “levers” that allow you to engage your (soon to be) powerful back, core and legs – muscles that are much stronger than your arms. Stand Up Paddle is a full body experience. Straighten your arms, bend your knees, twist your core and engage your back.

The power stroke:

Once the paddle passes your feet, you’re essentially “shovelling water”. The paddle is in an upward arc and you’re driving the board down into the water – not very productive. The most power is attained by having a long forward reach, and finishing the stroke not far past your feet.