What is the correct paddle technique for the SUP Paddle Stroke?

Correct paddling technique for the SUP paddle stroke is described below and displayed in the below video. This technique is the basis of paddling in all environments.

3 P’s – for correct paddle stroke

The 3 P’s of the paddle stroke help identify correct technique.

  1. Position

    Defined as: standing on the board.
    Nose of board slightly out of water, rails on surface, standing near handle

  2. Posture

    Defined as: body posture on the board
    Parallel stance (or engaged stance exposed waters), hip-shoulder length apart, knees slightly bent – not over bending, eyes looking ahead, shoulders down & back & relaxed, back straight, neck in neutral position (shoulders, back, neck all aligned).

  3. Paddle – 5 Phases of the Paddle Stroke

    1. Entry.
    Defined as: paddle begins to touch the water, starts to submerge.
    Technique: hinging from hips, correct reach, upper arm directly over paddle/push down, vertical paddle, quiet entry.

    2. Catch.
    Defined as: the initial gripping of the water.
    Technique: hinging from hips, top hand pushing down, vertical paddle (front view) blade fully buried to neck of shaft, arms moving when blade fully buried.

    3. Power phase.
    Defined as: where forward propulsion of the board is at its greatest.
    Technique: Vertical paddle (front and side view), no more hinging, top hand pressure to drive paddle, bottom arm extended and not bent, knees flexed but fixed, paddle blade buried to neck of shaft.

    4. Exit.
    Defined as: when the paddle starts to leave the water.
    Technique: Exit at feet, no load on blade, not scooping water, feathering the blade.

    5. Recovery.
    Defined as: return of the paddle forward in readiness for the next stroke.
    Technique: body relaxed, upright, paddle close to rails, blade set up square for next stroke.
    Being able to paddle with correct technique ensures you stay safe.


Do you want to know more?

If you are an inexperienced paddler, contact an accredited SUP instructor and get some lessons, learning and join in on some regular instructor lead paddle sessions. Or complete an online course with explanations, videos and a video assessment of your paddling skills.

Find accredited SUP school

ASI SUP Wise Intensiv online course