Perfect Your Paddle | The W+W Guide

Ever watched those surfers who get outback in a matter of seconds and wonder how they do it? Or those who do just two paddles and get straight onto the wave? These surfers have got their paddle technique dialled – they make it look effortless!

The better your paddle, the quicker you’ll be and the more waves you’ll catch! So it’s really worth investing some time into practising your movement.

If you’re new to surfing, paddling can be completely exhausting. Even when you’re a more experienced surfer, the wrong technique it can still leave your shoulders and arms burning before you’ve even reached the lineup.

Sound familiar?

No worries! We’ve got 5 simple tips to help you perfect your paddle.


It is really important to keep straight and centred. Imagine there is a straight line down the middle of your board. Line your nose and the tips of your toes up along this line, so half your body is on either side.

Don’t lie too far forward. You don’t want the nose of your board to sink. Likewise, don’t lie too far back; this will create drag and lot of extra work for yourself. If you’re on a foamie or mini-mal, try keeping your toes just off the tail of the board – it’s a great way to get the right feel.

Try and keep your legs together and raise your feet slightly – This will engage your core and help keep you stable as you drive forward with your paddles – Just watch how the girls on the World Tour paddle.

Let’s start with the hands. You want to create little scoops; fingers closed but hands relaxed. Paddle in LONG freestyle swim strokes down the length of your board, one after the other. Use the rails of your board as a guide if you need; you don’t want to waste any energy on pushing water sideways.

Bent elbows allow you to reach forward for your next paddle whilst maintaining momentum. Try not to make a splash, fingertips are what should enter the water first.

At the start of each stroke your elbows should be high and your hand and forearm should enter the water in a vertical position, which will help propel you forward with a greater surface area, for a greater length of time.

Keep your head up and arch your back when paddling. Tightening your core and pushing your hips into the board will help with your mobility and stability.

Control your breathing like you would with running. Keep a good rhythm. With each paddle, Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale….

So the next time you’re paddling out, focus in hard on where you’re lying on the board. Are you straight? Is your head high and your core tight? These little things can seem like a lot to remember, but once you put them together, muscle memory kicks in. It’s like riding a bike.

The more you practice at perfecting your paddle, the stronger you get and the easier it all becomes.

Want to improve your strength? Check out our Upper Body Work-Out for surfers.

These are some very basic tips for paddling and we’ll be diving into this deeper throughout our 2020 surf coaching weekends. Get in touch for more information and dates.

Did these tips help you? Let us know in the comments below!

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