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How to Do the SUP Forward Stroke

The SUP forward stroke looks deceptively simple. In fact, practicing good form can lead to more efficient, effective and fun stand up paddling. In this short instructional video, we show you how to best execute the SUP forward paddle stroke so that you move ahead more quickly, more efficiently and more smoothly.

First, you want to assume the proper body position. Set your feet approximately shoulder width apart, with your knees slightly bent, and your shoulders back. Your arms should be fairly straight, and your elbows slightly bent. From this position you can rotate your hips and shoulders to get a wide range of motion with your paddle without ever bending your arms.

From this position you rotate your hips and shoulders. Then, bend forward slightly at the waist, bring the paddle blade down into the water and pull it back to your foot. To recover the paddle, twist your lower wrist forward and with your top hand point your thumb forward. Rotate your hips and repeat the moves in a smooth motion.

Done properly, your arms stay in a relatively fixed position throughout the stroke; the power of the stroke doesn’t come from your arms, it comes from your torso’s core muscles. When you’re doing the stroke right it will feel like a “crunch” on the side you’re paddling on. As you get into a steady rhythm, you’ll be leaning slightly forward at the waist, while at the same time rotating your hips and shoulders, pushing down and back through the water with your paddle.

Now that you have all the components of a powerful forward stroke, practice putting them together as smoothly as possible, and with a very quiet board. A quiet board will be the most efficient and fast board through the water. Happy paddling!