Updated: Jun 4, 2019
I have recently been focusing on my paddle board technique, particularly efficient paddle stroke and upping my surf skills. I have sat on my computer, researching and reading a heap of top 5’s and 10’s from how to sup surf to optimising your paddle stroke. However, I thought they were all missing some crucial info – that we are all individuals, with varying shapes, sizes and abilities. So here are my suggestions for keeping the stoke – without any actual technique suggestions involved!
DO IT! – Seriously, it doesn’t matter how much research you do, how many videos you watch, it will not replace hands on experience. Get out in any conditions, without putting yourself in unnecessary danger. I personally have been out in some atrocious conditions, 40 mph winds, chop almost as big as the waves and waves so terrible you wonder why you bother, but it all adds to your experience.
DRILL IT – Build up that muscle memory, being able to turn on the spot with out thinking and not having to worry about going in really does make surfing so much easier and more enjoyable. If you can’t pull a maneuver on flat water, don’t expect to be able to pull it in less than glassy waves!
RESEARCH – Watch what others are up to, the things you want to do and the stuff you think you have dialed. Learn from them, get on Youtube, watch your local break. This is a very personal sport but you can still look at what works for others and try it out for yourself.
BE YOURSELF – There is no set way of SUP surfing, every one has different strengths and abilities. Unless you are a pro rider who gets to work with specialist coaches, you are going to have to work out what works for you on your own (or with your buddies). Your body will tell you if something isn’t working, we’ve all had that ache in a particular muscle from improper technique – don’t ignore it!
TRAIN – If you want to get better at it, you need to practice and build up muscle on and off the water! I find the best way to figure out what I need to do is to watch myself – a camera mounted on your board or paddle gives some good perspectives. Watch the fails, assess your equipment and make changes when you can.
I hope you found this helpful! I have recently seen loads of articles on the best way to paddle or improving your technique etc, and after reading each one came away thinking that it doesn’t completely relate to me. I came to realise everyone is a self expert (some with huge amounts of experience and qualifications!), they are telling you what works for them and although this is not to be sniffed at, you aren’t them. You are you and if you bear this in mind, hopefully you won’t beat yourself up about not being able to do something that someone else can. That said nothing is impossible, if you work hard for it, lessons with an experienced instructor who can assess your technique and discuss this with you, are well worth the time and money. However, they are not a necessity.
Nothing beats that feeling of stomping a new maneuver or trick. It’s remembering those times that gets me through the lows of training and the low motivation days. Hope this gives some inspiration and an insight to the stoke that can be sup surfing!