How to Hold a Paddle Board Paddle: A Beginner’s Guide

Whether you're new to paddle boarding or looking to refine your technique, understanding how to hold your paddle board paddle correctly is crucial for an enjoyable and efficient paddling experience. 

Whether you're new to paddle boarding or looking to refine your technique, understanding how to hold your paddle board paddle correctly is crucial for an enjoyable and efficient paddling experience. Holding the paddle properly can make a significant difference in your performance, comfort, and even safety on the water. Let’s dive into the essentials of holding a paddle board paddle.

holding a paddle board paddle

Understanding Your Paddle

Before we get into the specifics of holding your paddle, it’s important to understand the parts of the paddle:

  1. Grip: The top part of the paddle where you place your top hand.
  2. Shaft: The long middle section of the paddle.
  3. Blade: The bottom part that goes into the water.

Determining the Correct Paddle Length

Before you even hold your paddle, make sure it’s the right length. Here’s a quick way to measure:

  1. Stand your paddle upright: Place the blade on the ground.
  2. Extend your arm: Reach up with one hand and curl your fingers over the top of the paddle handle. The handle should be at wrist height.

Adjustable paddles are great for fine-tuning the length to fit your height and paddling style.

The Basics: How to Hold Your Paddle

woman paddling a paddle board
  1. Hand Placement: Place one hand on the grip (top hand) and the other on the shaft (bottom hand). Your top hand should be over the grip, while your bottom hand should be about a shoulder-width apart on the shaft.

  2. Hand Position: Your bottom hand should be closer to the blade, providing leverage and control. The distance between your hands should feel natural and comfortable, usually around shoulder width.

Finding the Right Grip

  1. Relaxed Grip: Hold the paddle with a relaxed grip. Gripping too tightly can lead to fatigue and reduce efficiency. Think of holding it like a handshake – firm but not squeezing.

  2. Top Hand: Your top hand should hold the grip firmly but comfortably. This hand will help steer and control the paddle's angle.

  3. Bottom Hand: Your bottom hand should have a relaxed yet stable grip on the shaft. This hand will provide the power and stability for each stroke.

Paddling Technique

  1. Start Position: Stand on your paddle board with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and engage your core.

  2. Paddle Entry: To begin your stroke, extend your top hand forward and dip the blade fully into the water near your toes.

  3. Power Phase: Pull the paddle back through the water with your bottom hand, keeping the blade fully submerged. Keep your top hand steady and use your core muscles to drive the movement.

  4. Exit Phase: When the paddle reaches your hip, lift it out of the water and prepare for the next stroke. Rotate your torso slightly with each stroke to engage your core muscles and maintain a smooth rhythm.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Incorrect Hand Placement: Avoid holding the paddle too close together or too far apart. Proper hand placement is key for control and efficiency.

  2. Tight Grip: Holding the paddle too tightly can cause unnecessary strain and fatigue. Keep your grip relaxed.

  3. Shallow Strokes: Ensure the blade is fully submerged during each stroke to maximize power and efficiency.

  4. Overreaching: Don’t overextend your top hand or lean too far forward. Maintain a balanced posture to avoid instability.

Tips for Better Paddling

  1. Stay Relaxed: Keep your body relaxed and fluid. Tension can lead to fatigue and discomfort.

  2. Engage Your Core: Use your core muscles to power your strokes, not just your arms. This will increase your endurance and effectiveness.

  3. Practice Balance: Spend time practicing your balance on the board without the paddle. The more comfortable you are on the board, the better your paddling technique will be.

  4. Switch Sides: Regularly switch which side you paddle on to avoid muscle fatigue and ensure even development.


paddling an inflatable paddle board

 Holding your paddle board paddle correctly is the foundation of effective and enjoyable paddling. By understanding the basics of hand placement, grip, and technique, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of paddle boarding. Remember, practice makes perfect, so get out on the water and give it a try. With time and experience, you’ll find your paddling rhythm and improve your skills.