How to Paddle a SUP Board Straight

Guide, Paddleboarding, SUP -

How to Paddle a SUP Board Straight

Paddleboarding is becoming one of the fastest growing water sports out there, and it’s easy to see why! Appealing to both the experienced junkie and water novices, this activity is calmingly simple, yet presents enough opportunities for established paddleboarders to test themselves and their gear to the limit. Whether it’s river or ocean paddleboarding, SUP is an excellent sport for those looking to spend more time on the water.

One of the things that new paddleboarders learn very quickly is how deceptively simple others make it appear. What looks from the outside like a relaxing glide is, in fact, a test of skill and balance that takes plenty of practice to learn, and paddling optimises this fact. As the principal function during any SUP run, effective paddling is about more than just avoiding falls or going around in circles; a proper paddling technique will improve speed and efficiency, allowing you to avoid fatigue while on your board. Check out our guide to mastering the paddle!

How to Hold a Paddle


One of the first things to learn when it comes to paddling is how to hold the paddle. With the paddle’s handle across your upper body, one hand holds the top of the paddle with the other halfway down the shaft. This is a relatively simple hold and should make the pushing motion feel as natural as possible. As you switch sides, your hands switch with it, but this is much easier than it sounds and will quickly become second nature!

One of the most common mistakes made when paddleboarding for the first time is what direction to hold the paddle. Logic dictates that the paddle should curve towards you to catch as much water as you push through. However, this is not the case with SUP! Hold the curved paddle so it is facing away from you, towards the front of the board. This not only allows it to move through the water quicker but also creates lift for the board, further improving speed.

Two people paddleboarding over a misty lake

SUP Foot Placement

It may not be obvious at first, but your core strength makes a significant impact on your ability to paddle effectively, and this can be aided by good foot placement. It is best to keep your legs in line with each other at first, about shoulder-width apart, while keeping your knees slightly bent.

This posture allows for even drive while paddling on both sides of the board while also absorbing some of the force from the water. The more you bend your knees, the more momentum and speed that the SUP can achieve, so it is recommended that you practice this technique if you want to truly glide across the water!

SUP Paddle Technique

Now it’s time to look at the actual paddling techniques that will get you moving across the water. Every aspect of the paddle happens in front of your standing position, starting with the reach. Keeping the paddle vertical, use your core and shoulders to reach as far in front as is comfortable, creating an ‘A’ shape with your body, paddle and lower hand.

From here, you insert the paddle’s blade into the water, keeping it as straight as possible to maximise traction. From here, pull your body towards the steady paddle by activating your core and shoulders while remembering to keep the paddle straight. Once the blade comes in line with your feet, bring it out of the water by moving your top hand inward, bringing out at the side to avoid unwanted resistance. This is a simple but very effective paddleboarding method!

A silhouette of someone paddleboarding in the ocean during sunset

How to Paddleboard in the Ocean

Of course, paddling in choppy waters can pose many more challenges than learning these techniques in a river or lake. Thankfully, the core paddling technique in all water conditions remains mostly the same, but there are some little things you can pick up to make ocean paddleboarding that bit smoother.

While bending your knees can help with speed, it will also support you during ocean SUP sessions against things such as side waves. Stability can be further ensured by further exaggerating the techniques mentioned above, such as having your feet wider apart or diving deeper into the pull while paddling.

We hope that this guide will give you the confidence to get out there and try paddleboarding for yourself! Here at F-One, we have a range of inflatable sup boards and kits available, so why not check out our awesome range today?