Ever wonder how to choose a paddleboard paddle? In our next installment of SUP Lessons with Chuck Patterson, we’re looking at the anatomy of a SUP paddle. There are quite a few common mistakes beginners make when first trying stand up paddleboarding and learning a little bit about the paddle itself will help you use it correctly and get the most out of your time on the water.
Starting from the top of the paddle, you have your t-handle. The handle is meant to fit comfortably in your palm so you can get a good grip and not tire your hands. When trying out paddles, make sure you get one that feels like a good fit as you grip it, whether it’s an oval, ball, or t-shaped (more on getting a proper grip later).
There are typically two different options when buying a SUP paddle: adjustable and custom. Custom-cut paddles are ones that are permanently fixed at one length. If you’re a beginner, adjustable paddles are an excellent option because not only can you try out different lengths in the water, you can share it between paddlers as size will depend on the paddler’s height.
Varying lengths have specific benefits. When racing, paddlers usually like a longer paddle for better reach and superior stroke technique. If it’s being utilized more for surfing, a shorter paddle is superior for quick strokes and maneuvering in the water. You’ll also find starting out that you’ll adjust your paddle often to try and find the sweet spot, figuring out what feels best as you stroke.
The blade of the SUP paddle is the part that you pull through the water during a stroke. A common beginning paddler mistake is pointing the paddle face in the wrong direction. Most people are surprised to notice that the SUP paddle has a slight bend to it. In opposition to instinct, you should face the paddle with the bend pointing forward instead of using the angled blade inward in a scooping motion. This is a design that is based on outrigger canoe paddling as opposed to the straight blade of a kayak paddle.
The blade is designed this way so that when you finish through on your stroke, the blade should be totally vertical despite the shaft being pointed at an angle. This prevents backdrafts in the water so that you get the most efficient stroke possible.
Make sure you check out the rest of our beginner-friendly videos with pro-rider Chuck Patterson!