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When it comes to stand up paddle boarding, paddling proves an important technique. Paddling properly helps the paddler’s efficiency, speed, and ultimately helps to avoid fatigue. In order to maximize your paddling, there are five steps you can follow to help enhance your stroke.

The Reach

The reach refers to the act of extending the paddle forward for placement. A successful reach will properly set the stroke. To reach effectively and efficiently, twist at the shoulders and hinge at the hips to extend your paddle blade toward the nose of your board. Activate your core to align the paddle’s shaft with your board’s rail. Stabilized by your core, you should create an A-frame between your torso and legs, the shaft, and your lower arm. Your lower arm is what will set the blade as far forward as comfortable without losing control. To maximize your extension, you’ll want to keep your back straight and bend only your stroke-side knee slightly.

The Catch

Prior to this step, you should already be reaching as far forward as comfortable. Now your paddle should meet the water. Fully submerge the blade, ensuring it is aligned perpendicularly with the rail of your board. In this step, you’re aiming for the least resistance, so you will want to focus on making little to no splash when your blade comes in contact with the water.


Propelling the board past the paddle blade influences speed, proving important for a quicker paddling experience. You’ll want to activate your traps and obliques to pull after you’ve accomplished a catch. Focus on keeping the paddle shaft vertical, with your lower arm straight. Instead of pulling the blade back to your body, pull your body forward, ensuring your blade is as stable as possible. To ensure acceleration and efficiency, refrain from ending your stroke past your feet; instead, end the stroke at them.


At this step, you’ll be releasing the blade from the water. For an efficient exit, drop your upper hand down to lift the paddle. You’ll lose efficiency if you pull the blade up through the water, and twisting the paddle prior to exiting will make an awkward recovery and offset your flow. Focus on keeping the blade as vertical as possible during the exit.


This step refers to the transition between one stroke and the following stroke. After releasing your blade, you’ll want to turn the shaft 90 degrees by twisting inward with your lower hand’s thumb. This will make for a faster and smoother recovery. You can relax your back here to give your shoulders a break before the next reach. In this step, you’ll ultimately want to focus on technique and setting yourself for a smooth recovery rather than attempting to capture speed.