Paddling // Part One

Lesson 10 Chapter 2

Maximise your propulsion is, in other words – getting the most power out of every stroke. How do you do that? It comes down to your reach. Your reach needs to be long, deep full arm strokes which use less energy so you can surf longer.

What this actually means is your pushing more water, allowing you to go faster, helping you catch more waves.

Quick short strokes (like a penguin) will get you very little waves, and you will overcompensate with late takeoff and bad positioning.


√ Keep your hands straight and relaxed under water. Paddling is the same as swimming freestyle / front crawl. This will allow you to drive through the water, making your paddles more effective.

√ Full arm extension with every stroke. Your front arm is fully extended so your hand can penetrate the water far in front of you. Your backhand pops out of the water only when it is fully extended at the back, after a full range motion.

√ Elbows high – this keeps your hand and forearm in a vertical position from the start of your stroke. When your hand and forearm are vertical, then you are able to hold the water and propel yourself forward with a greater surface area for a greater length of time.

√ Good rhythm – paddle with one arm at a time.

√ Slight roll – the hip-driven stroke is initiated at the hips and the shoulder driven stoke is initiated from the shoulders. You want to simultaneously work the upper and lower body together with a gentle rock onto your hips as you reach out to your stokes. You should feel this in your core area.

√ Chin up – keep chest/head up so you can see and then lunge down into the stroke.

√ Place feet together – to make sure you don’t compensate an unbalanced position with the lower body.

√ Bend your arms – almost compressing water against the bottom of your board. Keep your strokes close to your rails.


Do not put your hands in a “cupped” position. This reduces the surface area your hands push under water, limiting your propulsion. Do not put excessive tension in your hands, this is a waste of energy.

No penguin paddles. Short paddles that splash the water when penetrating, will get you nowhere. You’re looking for a smooth entry.

Only paddle one arm at a time. Double swooping is not a good idea for your speed and you lose more of your energy.

Don’t paddle too wide. You want your strokes to come in like an S shape, nice and close to your board.

Rocking too much on your hips will create unsteadiness. It’s not a forced technique, your looking for a more slight, natural roll. Needless to say, you’re not going to have a smooth trajectory through the water.