Paddling // Part Two

Lesson 11 Chapter 2

When we talk about resistance we want to look closely at how to minimize your drag through the water.

Drag occurs because:

  • Your surfboard – nose, rails
  • Your equipment – t-shirt, legrope
  • Your body – legs, arms

Let’s say you are wearing a t-shirt, with your nose rising up out of the water and your legs are apart this would a great example of maximizing your resistance.

What you are looking for most is GLIDE on top of the water creating little friction as you can between your board, yourself, and the water.

Lying down on your board in its sweet spot will greatly help this. You will notice an immediate difference if there is too much weight either side or towards the front or back of the board.

To minimize your resistance in the water, you will need to focus on these four key areas.

  • Correct body placement on your board
  • Appropriate board choice for your ability
  • Wearing the right clothing
  • Fitness levels


1. Correct Positioning

 Head still – helps with your speed and your efficiency in the water

√ Legs together – creates less drag

√ Arch your back – make sure your nose is at least 1-2 inches out of the water

√ Find your sweet spot in the center

of the board – If you’re too far back, your nose will rise upwards, if you’re too far forward you will nosedive

2. Board Choice

If you are on the wrong board you will know straight away from how successful you are with your paddling and whether or not it feels easy.

A bigger board will automatically give you better glide so don’t come down to much in size until you are:

  1. A better paddler
  2. A fitter surfer

The shorter the board the more drag there is, the better you have to be at paddling. Simple.

3. Wearing The Right Clothing

Wear what you want, but if you’re struggling to paddle, I would suggest swapping your t-shirt for skins or a tighter fitting rashie. A t-shirt or loser fitting clothing will give you more drag. If you surf in colder countries and have to wear wetsuit, boots, gloves etc you will also notice more drag.

4. Fitness

The most effective training for surfing is surfing – and the same goes for paddling. Very few people do exercises that correctly develop the muscles and endurance levels required to surf for a decent period of time before fatigue sets in.

The overwhelming common theme is the early onset of fatigue due to the repetitious motion of paddling.
Often beginner surfers give up because they think that they aren’t good enough, its actually because they aren’t fit enough.


If you’re feeling off balanced, don’t spread your legs to compensate. This will create more drag because your legs will be hanging off the board in the water

If your body weight is off to one side, it will start to sink. The sinking part of the surfboard then creates resistance with the water while moving forward

The wrong board choice ie; too small, will be detrimental to your progress. You have to get the right board for your weight and size. Otherwise, the board will sink and you will find it really difficult to pull yourself through the water to catch waves

Wearing any baggy or loose fitting clothes will create more resistance. A lot of beginners want to look cool and wear T-shirt but they don’t realize they are having to work harder because of the extra drag

If you are not fit enough you simply won’t have the paddle power to get yourself onto waves

When you’re too tired to paddle, try to resist placing your head on the board as this will create more drag. Keeping your head up, gives you more stability, more mobility and more visibility of the waves in front of you