Keeping your SUP in a Straight Line

Most experienced paddlers are constantly working to refine their stroke so don’t expect to become an expert overnight. Once you are able to maintain a straight line while performing multiple strokes on each side of the board, you will definitely find your SUP experience far more efficient and rewarding.

One of the greatest challenges for those that are new to paddle boarding is learning to keep your SUP headed straight without having to constantly switch the sides of the board that you are paddling on.  The nature of a single blade paddle is that you will have to eventually switch sides, but the idea is to prolong that as long as possible because you lose momentum when you switch over to the other side of the board.

 

First and foremost, make sure that your SUP paddle blade is facing the proper direction. Unfortunately, it is counter intuitive for most new paddlers to have the scoop portion of the blade facing away from them.  Most assume that if they are pulling the “scoop” towards them that they are generating more power.  Technically this is true but the problem with this theory is that it will cause your board to immediately turn away from the side you are paddling on, and you will literally have to switch paddle sides after each paddle stroke.  The ingenuity of the SUP paddle is that used in the proper direction with the correct SUP stroke, you will be able to paddle 5-10 times on each side before needing to make the switch. This is due to the “feathered” design of the paddle blade.

 how to paddle straight

If the conditions that you are paddling in are perfect: glassy, flat water and no wind you will want to keep your paddle as perpendicular to the water as possible and you will pull the paddle right along the side of the board which is known as the “rail”.  One way to make certain that the paddle is in the proper position is to form an “A” between your upper and lower hand which means you will want your arms to be fairly straight and have about a shoulder’s width between your hands.  To make certain that your arms are in the proper position, you should be able to look out the “window” that is created between your arm that is on the top of the paddle and the paddle itself.  Make sure that you “stack” your shoulders with each paddle stroke so that the shoulder that maneuvers the arm of your top hand is stacked directly over the shoulder that controls the lower hand. This will make certain that you are powering your stroke with your torso rather than just your arms.

how to stand up paddle board

Unfortunately, conditions are rarely this optimal when paddle boarding.  Wind and chop are typically a part of life in the SUP world.  It will behoove you greatly to learn the “sweep stroke” to be able to conquer these conditions.  To perform a proper sweep stroke, you will want to begin your paddle stroke farther away from the rails of your board than you did with the stroke you were using for optimal conditions.  Instead of pulling the blade in a straight line, you will want to angle it towards the rail so that when you finish the stroke, the blade is right next to the rail of the board. To make the most of each paddle stroke, hinge at the hips and literally “throw” the blade out as far as you can and pull it to your feet before you remove it from the water. This will give you more power and efficiency on each paddle stroke. Make sure that you submerge the entire blade under the water with each stroke. Make sure that your stroke is clean and smooth as opposed to jerky.  A properly executed sweep stroke will allow you to paddle on one side indefinitely – or at least until those muscles tire!

paddle board 

Most experienced paddlers are constantly working to refine their stroke so don’t expect to become an expert overnight. Once you are able to maintain a straight line while performing multiple strokes on each side of the board, you will definitely find your SUP experience far more efficient and rewarding.