Being handed a paddle board paddle for the first time can be intimidating. You may not be sure where to place your hands and many people hop onto the board gripping hold of the paddle handle so tightly that they’re surprised when they hit water! This is an easy mistake to make as you probably aren’t aware of what the correct way to hold a paddle is. Some people think paddle boarding is hard but with practice comes perfection! I want to give you a few tips on how to hold the paddle handle and use it in the correct way so that you can start enjoying the sport and quickly improve your performance!
Identifying your Paddle Board Paddle Parts
There are a few key elements that remain consistent in most stand up paddle boarding paddles. These parts of your paddle will be referenced by SUP instructors, experienced boarders, and other SUP enthusiasts when talking about how to hold a paddle. It’s a pretty straightforward concept, but it might help to know exactly what someone means when they talk about the mechanics of stand up paddle boarding. This information can help you better understand how to hold your paddle as well as improve your paddling strokes and time out on the water.
T Grip – This part can vary from model to model but most importantly serves as an attachment point for your hand during paddling. Some grips are made with an ergonomic shape for comfort while others are designed for better control over your strokes.
Paddle Shaft – This is the long, straight piece of your paddle. It’s where all the power comes from when you use a stroke. The shaft can be made from fiberglass, carbon fiber, or foam. The shaft will have a grip attached to it at the top. The grip is what allows you to put pressure on the paddle and hold it in place while you make strokes.
Blade – This is where you want to focus most of your attention when doing paddle strokes. The blade is located at the bottom of your paddle and is curved on one side and flat on the other side. It’s this flat side that makes contact with water when doing any kind of stroke (draw or sweep).
Throat – The throat is a very important part of the paddleboard paddle. The throat is the place where the shaft meets the blade and begins to widen out. It can be made of plastic or carbon fiber, but it is essential to make sure that your paddle’s throat is well protected from any damage.
Paddle Tip – The paddle tip is the end of the blade. It can be made from many different materials including plastic, carbon fiber, or aluminum. A paddle tip will affect how fast you can go and how efficiently your paddle works. The shape of the tip can also affect how much water flows over it when paddling.
Paddle Board Paddle Direction: Blade Angle Explained
The paddle’s blade doesn’t descend straight down from the shaft. Instead, it’s at an angle. This gives you greater thrust as it pushes water down and drives you forward. However, to take advantage of this design, you need to hold your paddle correctly.
To hold the paddle properly is quite simple, but it’s important. The angle of your paddle is critical and you’ll want to be sure you have mastered this key technique. If holding the paddle backwards or incorrectly, it will be hard for you to go as fast as you can. Instead, make sure the paddle blade angles away from you. When you’re holding your paddle vertically, tilt the blade slightly away from your body. This will push the nose of your board up and out of the water at the start of your stroke. As you lean forward into the power phase of your stroke, tilt the blade so that it’s perpendicular to the water to drive you forward fast.
Hand position: Many people are confused about where exactly to put their hands on their paddles when they first start out, but there’s really only one way to do it right.
- Take hold of the T-grip on the top of the paddle with one hand and the shaft of the paddle with your other hand.
- Hold the paddle at arm’s length above your head.
- While still holding the T-grip with one hand, position your other hand on the shaft so that both arms form 90-degree angles at the elbows. This is where you want your hands positioned on the paddle in order to paddle.
The Most Common Paddle Strokes
There are two basic types of paddling strokes: forward and reverse. The forward stroke is the most common, but both are useful in different situations.
The forward stroke is the one you use when you’re paddling straight ahead or coming back to shore after a long trip out on the water. This is a basic stroke that anyone can learn quickly. It’s used to get from one point to another with minimal effort, so it’s good for beginners who want to get out on the water without having to worry about turning or steering their boats.
The reverse stroke is simple to perform and can be used for slowing down, stopping and turning. Simply reach back behind you and plant the paddle in the water near the tail of your board. Make sure the blade is completely submerged in the water. With the forward stroke, keep your arms straight and twist from your torso rather than pulling the blade forward with your arms. Pulling a reverse stroke will help slow down or stop your kayak.