Top 7 Paddle Techniques for Surfing
1. Keep your body and board parallel to reduce drag.
Often times when surfers start out they’re too far back or forward on the board leaving too much of the back of your body in the water or too much front of the body into the water slowing the surfer down. Keep the body straight and flat like a freestyle swimmer would. This makes the surfer more arrow dynamic in the water.
In Figure 1: The surfer is leaned too much towards the back of the surfboard causing drag.
In Figure 2: The surfer is leaned too far forward which not only causes drag but, will slow the paddle because it now takes extra effort to lift the arms out of the warm. Also, this often results in a nose dive on take off or dropping into the wave.
In Figure 3: The body of the surfer is perfectly positioned being level and keeping the body flat to propel through the water more efficiently.
2. Keep your body in a straight line
Often times when new surfers paddle, their body isn’t in a straight line causing energy wasted. If the body isn’t straight the surfer often rocks back and forth or yawing. The best way to demonstrate this is to watch the video below of Kelly Slater vs Taylor Clark paddle differences. Taylor yawing actually slows him down compare to Kelly’s perfect paddle making him fast and efficient. This can be attributed to Kelly’s body position being straight and arrow dynamic letting him glide through the quickly.
3. Kick and Paddle into Waves
The paddle and kick combo takes a little to get use to but done correctly will help surfers get into the wave faster. Imagine swimming with just paddling with your arms. When you look at swimmers they always use their arms and feet regardless of the type of swim style. This also applies in surfing but, we don’t recommend kicking to position. The surfers body is usually flat and not in the wave until actually paddling for the wave.
4. Build Your Paddle Strength
When new surfers start out, often times there is a struggle because the body is not familiar with shoulder and core muscles. It does take a time to obtain and build these areas of the body so surf and surf often. There are a ton of surfing types of exercises you can find on youtube but, getting in the water as frequent as possible will in the end be better.
5. Dig and Extend Paddle Strokes
How bad do you want to get into the wave? Dig deep into the paddle and extend the stroke to push your whole body through. Once the surfer has found this rhythm and use this technique, the surfer will retain this feeling through muscle memory and try to apply this form to get into more breaks. When surfers dig deep and fully extend their arms, they’re utilizing more surface area of the arm and will help push through the water faster.
6. Match Volume to Weight to Reduce Drag
This one is to the surfers discretion because experience surfers some time use less volume to be more agile and maneuverable on the wave. View the board article written HERE to match weight to surfboard volume.
7. Keep Elbows Up When Paddling
This point goes back to point one reducing drag where keeping your elbow high will also reduce drag in your paddle. In addition, it can provide for a deeper stroke if done correctly. In this form, the body will be aligned with the elbow therefore, keeping the body from the rocking or yawing effect and a more efficient paddle through the water. Refer to the Kelly Slater vs Taylor Clark video above.