Stand Up Paddle Boarding: The Forward Stroke

Alright! Sweet new stand up paddle board. Check. Paddle. Check. New trunks. Check. Polarized sunglasses. Check. A pristine lake lined with birch trees. Check.  Now it’s time to hit the water and soak in every moment of summer! Although paddle boarding looks simple enough, you don’t want to be that guy on the lake flailing around using inefficient paddling strokes.

The forward stroke is the basic stroke that every paddler must have on lock down before steering, turning, racing, or surfing. First, find your balancing point on your board in the water. Trust us. Don’t try paddling until you’re fully centered and balanced. Get comfortable on your board. The balancing sweet spot is center of the board. Stand with your body facing the nose, feet parallel to one another, knees slightly bent and feet hip width distance apart. Never bend from your torso or your waist. You’ll lose your balance and worse, you’ll look like am ammeter!

Next, you’ll need to grasp the paddle correctly. Firmly grasp the handle with one hand and place your other hand in a comfortable place on the shaft. Depending on your anatomy, the hand placement on the shaft will slightly vary from person to person.

Finally, it’s time to paddle! Paddling involves alternating 4-5 strokes per side in order to move straight ahead. If you only paddle on the right, you’ll board will continue to turn left. When paddling on the right side, your left hand will be on the handle. When you switch to the left side, your hands should also reverse with your right hand on the handle. Your upper shoulder should lead the way while using your stomach muscles to pull with each stroke. Once again keep an eye on the movement of the blade. This will help keep your paddle board straight as your paddle.

As you paddle, remember to keep one hand over the other. As you use your paddle to stroke along the water, make sure the paddle is sliding alongside the board with every stroke. The key is to keep your blade as close to the center of the board as possible. This will make turning a lot easier when it’s time to change directions. If your board begins to work against you, try switching the position of your hands or paddling on the opposite side. Just remember to keep the proper posture with your back upright and knees slightly bent as you switch hands. That’s it, now get outside and have some fun!


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