Paddle Power: How to Paddle Correctly and Effectively While Surfing

Paddling is the foundation of surfing. Before you can ride the waves, you must master the art of paddling. It’s not just about brute strength; it’s about technique, efficiency, and understanding how to work with the ocean’s energy. We’ll guide you through the essential steps to paddle correctly and effectively, ensuring you can catch more waves and enjoy your time in the lineup.

Jamie O'Brien Surf Experience in Waikiki.
Body Position

The first step to effective paddling is maintaining the right body position on your surfboard. Lie flat on your board with your chest centered and your feet trailing behind you. Keep your head up and look forward, scanning the horizon for incoming sets.


Hand Placement

Your hands play a crucial role in paddling. Cup your hands with your fingers together, extending them forward into the water. Your hands should enter the water one at a time, fully extending your arm and alternating with each stroke to maintain balance.


Catching the Water

To generate power with your paddle strokes, you need to catch and pull the water effectively. Start each stroke by extending your arm forward until your hand is submerged. Then, engage your core and pull your arm back towards your hip while maintaining a slight bend in your elbow. This motion should be fluid and powerful, with your hand acting as a paddle blade.


Cupping Technique

Cupping your hand slightly as you pull through the water can help increase your paddle efficiency. Imagine your hand as a scoop, pushing water backward with each stroke. This cupping motion allows you to grab more water and propel yourself forward.


Proper Timing

Timing is crucial in paddling. Make sure your strokes are well-timed with the passing of the waves. You want to maximize your effort when paddling out to catch waves, and minimize it when riding them. To paddle out efficiently, time your strokes between oncoming waves to avoid unnecessary resistance.


Utilize Your Core

Your core muscles are your powerhouse when it comes to paddling. Engage your abdominal muscles and use your core to stabilize and support your paddling motion. This will help you maintain balance and generate more power with each stroke.


Efficient Breathing

Proper breathing is often overlooked in paddling. Exhale as you pull through each stroke and inhale as your arm reaches forward. This rhythm helps you maintain a steady pace and ensures you get enough oxygen for sustained effort.


Practice Makes Perfect

Like any skill, paddling requires practice. Spend time in the water working on your technique. Pay attention to how different paddle strokes affect your speed and stability. Over time, you’ll become more efficient and confident in your paddling abilities.

Jamie O'Brien Surf Experience in Waikiki.
Effective paddling is a fundamental skill in surfing that can greatly impact your overall experience in the water. By mastering the proper body position, hand placement, and stroke technique, you’ll increase your paddling efficiency, catch more waves, and expend less energy in the lineup. Remember, paddling is not just about strength; it’s about finesse and working with the ocean’s natural forces. So, practice regularly, stay mindful of your technique, and enjoy the rewards of effortless paddling on your surfing adventures.