Grasping the Basics: How to Hold a Paddleboard Paddle Correctly

When it comes to stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), your paddle is your connection to the water — it’s how you propel, steer, and stabilize yourself. But before you can glide across the water’s surface like a pro, you need to master the basic yet crucial skill of holding your paddle correctly. If you are wondering how to stand on a paddleboard you can check that here.

Understanding Your Paddle

The anatomy of a SUP paddle is simple. The top of the paddle has a handle, known as the “T-grip,” and it extends down to a long shaft, ending in the blade that dips into the water.

The Perfect Paddle Grip

  1. The Top Hand (T-Grip Handle): Your top hand will grasp the T-grip handle of the paddle. This hand acts as the lever that helps guide the paddle’s angle and direction.
  2. The Shaft Hand: Place your other hand on the shaft of the paddle. A good rule of thumb is to place it a shoulder-width apart from the top hand to allow for a full range of motion and to maximize power.
  3. Switching Sides: Your hands will need to switch positions when you change paddling sides to maintain proper form. The top hand becomes the shaft hand and vice versa. You will get used to this movement over time, sliding one hand up and passing the blade to the other hand.

Paddle Angle and Orientation

The angle of the paddle matters greatly. The blade should slant away from you, which might feel counterintuitive at first. This angle helps in pushing water more effectively, giving you better propulsion.

Paddle Length

A properly sized paddle will enhance your experience. When standing, the paddle should reach the wrist of your outstretched arm. Some paddles are adjustable, while others are fixed — choose one that suits your height and paddling style.

Effective Stroke Techniques

  • The Catch: Submerge the blade fully in the water near the board’s edge.
  • The Pull: Engage your core and pull the paddle back through the water alongside the board.
  • The Recovery: Lift the paddle out of the water at your feet and return it to the starting position.

Check our full paddling technique blog here.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Gripping Too Tightly: A death grip on the paddle causes fatigue. Hold it firmly but relaxed. You should be able to turn the blade with the top hand and let it turn in your shaft hand
  • Incorrect Hand Placement: Too close or too far can hinder your power and control.
  • Improper Blade Orientation: Ensure the blade angles forward for maximum efficiency.

Practice Makes Perfect

Just like any new skill, proper paddle handling takes practice. Spend time on the water experimenting with grip and paddle length to find what works best for you.

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Co-founder and Chief Adventurer

I am Max, the co-founder and CEO of adventuro. We are on a mission to help you get into the sports you have always wanted to try, or develop in the sports you love, exploring new skills and locations. We do this by partnering with the best instructors, guides, and activity centres to get a great spread from beginner all the way to instructor training.

For too long, it has been way to confusing to find your next steps, or even to know where to start when getting into adventure sports. I am an experienced and/or qualified paraglider, skydiver, scuba diver, freediver, power boat driver, snowboarder, kitesurfer, kayaker, mountain biker, surfer, dirt biker, wakeboarder, and sailor.

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