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Paddle Boarding Technique Guide: 7 Common Mistakes To Avoid

Posted by Luke Green

If you’re looking to perfect your paddle boarding technique it’s just as important to know what not to do, as it is to know the top tips for success. This is important for helping you avoid some of the most common mistakes that people tend to make when they first start SUPing. So, next time you’re out perfecting your SUP technique, make sure to avoid the following rookie errors:

Standing Too Far Forward On Your Board

One of the most common SUP mistakes that beginners often make is standing too far forward on the board. The closer you stand to the nose of the board, the more difficult it will be to remain stable and manoeuvre the board. For best paddle boarding technique you want to stand as close to the centre of the board as possible which is usually where the carry handle is. This will allow you to be more in control and paddle efficiently.

Looking Down At Your Board

Looking down at the board is another common mistake made by beginners, and it’s an easy way to make you lose your balance. So, when you head out on your next paddle make sure to keep your eyes up and focussed ahead of you. A really useful tip to improve your paddle boarding technique is to focus on something on the shoreline or just in front of you. This will ensure you paddle in a straight line in the right direction and enable you to look out for rogue waves or obstacles in the water.

3 people paddleboarding at sea
Man Paddle Boarding in Seef, Bahrain

Paddling At An Angle

Paddling looks pretty straightforward and when you know the right paddle boarding technique it is. However, there are common mistakes that people make when paddling. One of these is paddling at an angle. To ensure you get the necessary power out of every stroke, your paddle should always be perpendicular to the board when it enters the water rather than at an angle. This will enable you to paddle straighter for longer reducing the number of times you will need to swap sides.

Not Using Your Legs

Good paddle boarding technique involves using your entire body to remain balanced and power yourself through the water. Often when people start paddle boarding, they’ll try and put strain on using their arms alone for power, however the rest of your muscles are equally as useful for paddling. Make sure you’re engaging your core and quads for stability when practising your paddle boarding technique.

Not Gripping Your Hand On Top Of Your Paddle

Another key mistake to avoid when perfecting your paddle boarding technique is holding the paddle itself incorrectly. It’s important to have one hand gripping the top of the paddle with the other hand about halfway down the paddle shaft. If you’re paddling on the right hand side, the left hand should grip the top and vice versa. Not only will this give you more power, it's also a lot more comfortable.

Woman Paddle Boarding on the sea near a cliff on a Red Compact Paddle Board with a deck bag attached
2 women paddle boarding at sea on the Ride 9.8 Lifestyle

Paddling With The Paddle Blade The Wrong Way Round

Crucial to paddle boarding technique is of course making sure to hold your paddle the correct way round, however this is a common mistake that beginners make all the time. When paddling, your paddle’s blade should be pointed away from you. This will provide you with the amount of power you need, whilst also helping you to paddle in a straight line.

Paddling The Board Backwards

Before you first head out on the water, make sure to familiarize yourself with the front and back of the board. Often beginners will end up paddling the board facing the back with the fins facing board. This will make it incredibly difficult to paddle and prevent you from paddling in the direction you want to go in. That’s why it’s definitely a mistake to avoid when perfecting your paddle boarding technique. 

Now that you know the most common mistakes to avoid, you’re probably looking for some top tips on how to improve your paddle boarding technique. Luckily, our website is packed full of the best SUP tips and techniques to help you progress your paddle boarding. Explore the info and videos on our paddling tips page and for further guidance please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team. We’re always happy to share the top tips and tricks that we’ve picked up over the years!