How to improve your paddle technique for surfing

Remember the good ol’ days when you could surf for hours on end, catching one in only when it became too dark to see the incoming swells? Well, as we get older and time in the water becomes limited, our stamina is always the first thing to go.

It goes without saying that most of the time you’re in the water is spent paddling, and proper conditioning is key to keeping your surf session as enjoyable as possible. Here, we’ll focus on three specific areas that play a major role in your ability to paddle stronger and longer the next time you hit the water.

Flexibility

While the paddling motion itself is a rather fluid one, working on your flexibility and range of motion is a great way to reduce your chance of injury. Surfing can sometimes require you to repeat the same movement over and over again for extended periods of time, and if a lack of flexibility prevents you from maintaining proper alignment, it could lead to tears and inflammation.

RELATED: What's prehab and why should I do it?

Endurance and power

Power and endurance combine to give you what you need to fight through that whitewater conveyor belt. While swimming is the most obvious way to improve in each of these areas, there are also other exercises (such as those demonstrated in the video above) that target strength and stamina individually.

Cardio

Gettin’ that heart rate up is key. Photo: John Towner/Unsplash
Running, cycling or any sort of cardio activity is a great way to improve your body’s ability to perform at a high level for extended periods of time. Think of specific situations where you might have found yourself winded in the water and aim to perform activities that replicate those instances.

Surfing requires a few different styles of paddling, and training for a long paddle out or back up the point requires a different kind of stamina than the quick burst you likely use to paddle into an approaching wave.

Train for both situations by starting your cardio with a paced warm-up to get your heart pumping and muscles prepped. Next, execute short speed bursts to force your already working muscles to perform at an accelerated rate.

RELATED: Cross training tips for surfers who can't always get to the ocean

While your ability to quickly boost your performance at a moment’s notice is critical to surfing, being able to return to a controlled and relaxed state is almost more important. After a quick sprint, look to recompose yourself and lower your heart rate while returning to your warm-up speed.

Repeat this process multiple times and watch your ability to recover from a rough paddle out quickly improve.

Feel the difference

It’s good to feel good whenever you paddle out. Photo: Miguel Amutio/Unsplash
The next time you paddle out, take a moment to focus on your posture, your range of motion and your breathing. Take mental notes and remember how and when you find yourself most exhausted. This information is vital to helping you decide where to turn your focus next time you hit the gym or pavement.

RELATED: A complete guide to acquiring a successful training routine

Surfing stronger leads to surfing longer, so put these tips into practice and extend your surf sessions today.