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Surf paddling technique

As surfers we spend much more time paddling than actually riding the wave. So it makes sense to focus on our surf paddling technique. If you want to surf better, you need to catch more waves, if you want to catch more waves you need to paddle better.

Here are the basics you should know about :

1 TIMING

Paddling for a wave is all about timing. Always stay in front of the wave, so position yourself correctly and start paddling early. As soon as you feel the wave catches you take a strong extra paddle. Remember the faster the wave, the faster you need to paddle.

2 POSITION ON BOARD

Find the sweet spot on your board. Don’t lie to far back so the nose will lift up and push water. If you position yourself too far forward your board will nose dive into the water.
Try not to lean too far to the left or right, stay balanced. Keep your board flat on the water.

3 DON’T USE TWO ARMS

When paddling you need a constant planing speed. If you paddle with both arms you will momentarily lose momentum and speed. When you double-paddle you will jerk forward and then slow down. The ideal surf paddling technique resembles a freestyle swimming stroke.

4 STAY RELAXED

When paddling make sure you don’t tense up and get stressed. Relax the shoulders and don’t stiffen your facial muscles. Breathe in through your nose and focus on your technique.

5 LONG STROKES

Take long smooth strokes. Fully extend your arm, go deep and make sure you complete the rotation all the way to your thighs. Long smooth movements instead of quick and jerky.

surfer girl with perfect surf paddling technique

Long deep strokes   Photo by N.Rupert

6 DEEP STROKES

Don’t surface paddle. Extended your arm fully in the water. Try to keep your arms as close to your surfboard.

7 HANDS RELAXED

Relax the hands and keep a small gap between your fingers. Don’t spread or force the fingers together. Try not to bend your wrist too much.

 

 

8 SMOOTH ENTRY & EXIT

Minimize any splashing of water on entry and don’t throw any water at the end of the rotation, it’s wasted energy. You want a smooth exit out of the water without any turbulence.

9 KEEP FEET TOGETHER

Don’t drag your feet in the water, this disturbs the flow of the board in the water. Keep your feet together and lay evenly and balanced.

10 DON’T ROLL SIDE TO SIDE

Minimize any rolling from side to side. Keep your body still on the surfboard and let your shoulders and arms do the work. Don’t sway too much from side to side and keep your head still.

Featured image by G.Useta