This module isolates the skill of paddling and requires you to have mastered lying on your board correctly.

Suggested Practice Time: 20 mins concentrated practice + ongoing refinement each surf

A proper paddling technique is one of the most crucial elements to master as a surfer. Functional paddling propels you through the water with maximum speed and minimal energy, which means longer surfs, more waves and quicker progress.

With paddling your aim is to have your surfboard gliding along the surface of the water with minimal drag and maximum efficiency. This applies to both long and short boards, and the technique is exactly the same for both.

Good paddling begins with your body position. The two skills are intricately linked and you will notice that a lot of the prompts match what is enforced in the previous module.

Once you’re in the correct paddling position, apply the following:


-Your paddle stroke should be long and close to your rails
– Extend your arms well out towards the nose of your board
– The palm of your hands face the water
– Keep your elbows slightly lifted during your paddle stroke
– Your arms should exit the water far behind you
– Your forearms should be vertical under water to ensure you are pulling yourself through maximum amounts of water


-Keep the rest of your body still, it is your arms job only to do the paddling.
– Draw in your abdomen to help stabilise your torso. If you rock your body from side to side, your board will do the same.
– Remember the imaginary soccer ball under your chin: keep your chest elevated, you eyes and gaze up, looking beyond the nose of your board.
– Once your have your back arched and your shoulders and chest elevated, check that the nose of your board is sitting about 5cm above the surface.
– Keep your feet together

Here is an example of good paddling. The same technique and same principles apply to both a long board and short board.

Common mistakes

An inefficient paddle style uses a lot of energy and creates drag. It makes catching waves almost impossible, leading to great frustration and disappointment. There are many variables to bad paddling, but a classic bad paddle technique looks the same on a long board and a short board. It is rounded shoulders and short, wide paddle strokes, combined with a surfboard nose veering skyward, body weight shifting from side to side and wide spread legs.