Paddle Correctly On A Surfboard
Now that you’ve learned how to pop up, how to put in your fins, and stomp pad and how to wax your surfboard. Let’s go over how to paddle on a surfboard to maximize fun and surfing. Paddling will be the one thing you will be doing the most when surfing, since you have to paddle to the lineup, to catch a wave, and to go back out after your wave.
Paddling is all about finding the right spot on the surfboard. The one spot where your surfboard is not dragging up or back. Your surfboard should be straight. You should be positioned horizontally on your surfboard, without feet and arms out of the board. And lastly, it should be all about how far forward and back you are paddling while keeping your chest up and off the surfboard.
You see, to paddle might seem easy and it might seem like the more muscular you are, the easiest it will be. Wrong! Shoulder, and back muscles will definitely help you but the most important physical activity you will need is endurance or what we also call cardio.
It is one of the most vital fundamentals of surfing. The better you paddle, the more you will catch waves, and progress faster. So let’s get started and learn to paddle the correct way!
If you paddle the right way on your shortboard or longboard, you have to first remember a couple of things you need to be doing:
- Reduce water resistance or what we also call drag. You can reduce drag by finding the correct position on your surfboard.
- Boost Momentum. Boosting momentum will be done by having the correct surf paddling technique.
Now let’s talk about Reducing Resistance (drag)
Why are we reducing resistance? Because you need to paddle as good as you can.
If you do not understand the concept of resistance or drag, you will be wasting time focusing on paddling better, faster, or harder. Reducing drag is all about gliding efficiently on the water. Without having any resistance from the water or your own surfboard. Drag can come from your surfboard’s nose, tail or even rails. It can also come from your legs, your arms, and the way you are positioned on your surfboard. When having a lot of drag, it simply means that you are slowing yourself down and paddling harder but not going anywhere.
To reduce drag, we just have to work on a couple positioning tips that you need to practice on your surfboard. Those positioning tips are important both vertically and horizontally. Your position on your surfboard is about finding that “sweet spot”. That spot is described as the sweet spot because it is where your chest is on your surfboard. It is also about the way your body is dispersed on your surfboard, making the gliding effect on the water.
The best vertical position that you should have on your surfboard is by placing your body high enough on the board so that the nose is only a couple inches above the water when your back is arched. Not too high, or not too low. Make sure that you arch your back and then see how far up your nose is. Because if you are positioned too far back on your surfboard it could happen that you might seem like you are in the perfect position. Until you arch your back and the nose pops out of the water completely, creating that drag.
The correct way to be positioned on your surfboard is by keeping your back arched and your surfboard’s nose slightly out of the water. By pretending there is something under your chin, you will be keeping your back arched at all times, as well as keeping your head up and still.
When keeping all of your weight back on your surfboard. And positioning yourself with both of your legs out of the surfboard, the nose will be out of the water creating a drag. With this position, there is a lot of water resistance under the board.
Now if you bring your weight and position yourself too far up the surfboard; your nose will dive and your tail will go up. This will make you fall off your surfboard since your upper body is in the water, and it will create more drag than before.
When positioning yourself on your surfboard, you need to remember a couple things. Keep your feet together, so that you are not unbalanced. Lift both of your hands out of the water to see if you are balanced or not. And keep your head and upper body still so that you do not rock from side to side.
You want your body is to be perfectly balanced. The stringer (middle of the surfboard made out of wood) of the surfboard should be in a perfect straight line with the center of your body when laying down.
If your body is not aligned with the stringer along the center of your surfboard, you will feel unbalanced and fall to the side your weight is on. This will create drag when paddling.
When paddling, always keep your legs together. If your legs are spread apart, you will have a hard time paddling and balancing yourself on the surfboard. This will either make your legs sink in the water and create drag or it will lift up the tail and create drag as well.
This is done with the correct paddling technique of doing long strokes, dinging deep, bending your elbows, and reducing splashing. The goal of boosting momentum is about getting the most out of every paddle. The correct paddling technique is all about utilizing the surface area that pushes water underneath the surfboard. The more water push, the faster you paddle and catch waves.
When paddling you want to paddle with long strokes by fully extending your front arm so that it goes in the water far in front of you. Your back hand pops out of the water when fully extended after a completed range of motion.
You want your hands to enter the water deep and vertical so that you can propel yourself forward with more power. When your hands enter the water, dig deep and keep your arms vertical.
Last one is to keep your elbows high before digging deep underwater. This is the best way to make sure your forearm and hands stays vertical once underwater.
When paddling try not to do little paddles with short stokes, this will limit your momentum. This will make you paddle more for no reason at all. If you do not dig deep underwater, your paddles will be very limited, creating slow and weak speed. When paddling, if you do not keep your elbow high when entering the water, you will not be sure that your arms are staying vertical and it will also create lots of splash at the surface.
Remember to bend your arms when paddling on your surfboard
Keeping your arms bent will allow you to reach forward for your next paddle. It will also keep a tempo going when paddling one arm at a time. Keeping your arms stiff when paddling will make your shoulder and arms tired really fast. Your shoulders will have to support your arms weight when paddling each stroke. It will also make your surfboard rock from side to side, creating a drag and slowing you down.
Here are a couple mistakes that novice surfers tend to do when first surfing.
Try to paddle by avoiding all of the mistakes listed below and you will go far when surfing.
- Don’t splash water when reaching forward. Do a smooth water entry when paddling one arm at a time, retain that your fingertips enter the water first.
- Do not ‘cup’ your hands. This reduces speed and power when paddling underwater. Keep your hands straight and relaxed when paddling.
- Don’t paddle with both arms at the same time. If you want to surf for a while, paddle one arm at a time, keeping a good tempo.
- Don’t paddle wide. Always bend your arms when paddling on your surfboard, they should be close to the rails without going too wide on each side.
- Don’t rest your head on your surfboard. Always pretend there is something under your chin. Keep your head up, this will give you more mobility, stability, and visibility for the next waves coming.
- Don’t roll your shoulders too much when paddling. This will create your surfboard to rock from side to side and create a drag.
- Don’t spread your legs wide on each side thinking it will balance yourself. Keep your feet together. If you feel unbalanced and falling on one side, reposition yourself to the center of the surfboard.
Here you have it! Now that you know the basics of a great paddling technique, it is time to go and practice for yourself. If you are starting out, you will probably won’t get it perfect the first time but keep practicing and you will get there in no time. Can’t wait to see you in the lineup soon!