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Surf Tutorial - Getting Your Surfing Paddling Technique Right

By Edited Jun 25, 2015 0 0

If you were looking to learn about surfing, this is where you should begin, because an effective paddling technique comes first and foremost. Without paddling you are not going to get very far.

I don’t think that going to the gym and getting muscles like Rafa Nadal is going to help. Sure, strong arms will help any surfer to a point, because your paddling muscles will propel you forward, but there is a certain skill involved about it as well. You have to be able to use your energy to the best of your ability, otherwise a lot of the time it can be put down to wasted energy.

Why paddling is important for any surfer

Once you develop your paddling, you will start to see your overall skills start to improve. This applies to both beginner surfers as well as those who are more advanced in the sport. First off, when you begin surfing, it is the paddling that will tire you out the most.


You will be caught up with waves are breaking and this is more tiresome trying to get through this each and every time. When you begin to develop your skills as a surfer you will find paddling is a requirement because you have to get your timing right and you will want to shoot off and paddle fast so you can catch a certain type of wave. To combat this, it is important to find out more about certain paddling exercises, which are going to help develop certain muscles.

Positioning yourself on your board

The way you lie or sit on your board will definitely improve the way you get ahead in the water or it will slow you down. We have to discuss this before we get to the meaty bit, because once you know your position then at least you won’t be slowed down in that department.

  • Your body weight has to be in the centre of the board. If you are too far forward then you will nose dive and you will dip forward. If you are too far back you will sink the tail and this will make it difficult to get ahead.
  • You should keep the nose of the board slightly out of the water, but not so much that you are going to nose dive - just by just a few inches. This will make it easier to get over the waves when you are paddling out.
  • Raise your feet just a little off of the board.

You will probably have to experiment until your find the right zone. You may have to adapt more if you are changing from a longboard to a shortboard. It is easier to find your range on a longboard, but this doesn’t take long until you get the right comfort level.

Paddling Tips and Tricks for Beginners

  • When you start to paddle out, don’t move your arms too wide or dig too deep because this is going to use up more energy.
  • You may want to keep your feet apart as you are first getting used to the feeling of waves bashing you about just to maintain balance.
  • Practice this quite a bit before you head out for the bigger stuff otherwise you are really going to get frustrated.

How to paddle over waves

A lot of beginners get totally frustrated with this. You have just got blasted by one wave and are scrambling to find your bearings, when another board comes. As you get over this hurdle and learn how to get through waves you will realize it is actually not that difficult.

  • Approach the wave face on. You are going to be knocked off your board if you come from a sideways position.
  • The main work is done from the beach to the unbroken waves so you just have to keep on paddling and going forward until you get there.

Learning how to paddle over waves with a longboard can be even more of a nightmare, but you will learn as you go along. Make sure you are positioned properly and the rest is just practice.

 Pushing Up

You will use this technique a lot, either in the green waves that have over peaked or in the white wash. As you approach the wave, paddle fast and hard, head on and when you feel the nose being hit by the wave, you will hold onto the rails and push up. Your weight will be held with the top half of your body. Once the wave goes over your body then you can go down and continue paddling.


photo credit: flickr.com/photos/truplaces/5957232534

The Eskimo Roll

This is not always easy to get the hold of at first. You may like to try it in a swimming pool if you have one. It is when you come across a bigger wave and you will not be able to get through over the top. You will grab hold of the rails and roll with the board at the bottom of the wave. The wave will pass and you will pop back on the board. Only do this if you think you have enough upper body strength.

Duck Diving

A very common technique, especially amongst shortboarders and something that most surfers get the hang of without too many problems. In saying that, a beginner should practice the other techniques first since it is much easier to practice this with a shortboard. As the waves comes up you just have to push down on the rails, but focus on the top part of the board. You will go under the wave and pop on the otherside.

Busting Through

When you see green waves coming through that are just starting to break this is where you will paddle directly to wave. When you see it break completely, hold onto the rails, next to your chest, but just keep down as you go through the wave. As soon as you get through to the otherside you have to start to paddle otherwise you could find yourself drifting back.

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