SurfTips: Paddle Better

It’s a fundamental of surfing, but it’s one that a lot of beginners and intermediate surfers can struggle with. Have you ever found yourself missing waves that you think you should catch or often struggle trying to get out the back? We are here to help. 


How you lay on your board is as important as how you paddle. It sounds obvious but this without a doubt one of the most common mistakes when learning to surf. If all your weight is on the back of the board it doesn’t matter how hard you paddle or how fit you are; you won’t be going anywhere fast. Having your weight too far back will mean the nose of your board comes out of the water and you have created drag. You’re essentially pushing all the water under board while trying to paddle. The same is true if you lay too far forward, instead of pushing water your now trying to be submarine. You want to have your weight centred on the board, so the rocker of the board brings the nose out of the water but not too much. Keep your back arched and legs together. You also want to make sure you are in aren’t too close to either rail of your surfboard. Lean too much to the right or left and that side of the board will sink causing drag. 
Now you’re in the right position; it’s all about the paddle. We’ve all seen professional swimmer glide effortlessly through the pool and we’ve all seen a child at their first swimming lesson. What’s the main difference. Apart 1000’s of training. The professional swimmer takes long, powerful strokes whereas the beginner takes fast short, frantic strokes. The same is true on a surfboard. 


Long and strong

The perfect paddle is long, steady and continuous – Reach forward past the nose of your board (shortboard) bringing your arm deep into the water keeping your hand flat to create a solid shape (paddle) and pull back past your waist. As you bring your arm back for the next stroke make sure your hand doesn’t splash the water. Continue this with both arms separately, don’t be tempted to use both at once it’s not efficient and isn’t as quick. Use long continuous strokes from the nose of your board past your waist concentrating all the power into the paddle. Keep a rhythm, not too fast and not super slow. Find what works for you and stick to it.

Here’s a little roundup

  • Keep your weight in the centre of the board to reduce drag
  • Legs together
  • Arch your back keeping your head up
  • Hand flat to create a paddle
  • Slow long paddles (not short, frantic ones)
  • Don’t splash as you bring your arm forward
  • Keep a rhythm

Want to improve your surf technique with some like minded ladies?

If you live in the UK then sign up to our Progression Session Workshop. It’s aimed at intermediate surfers who would like to learn to surf or be more confident surfing green waves.