Lesson Number 3 (April 17-23): Paddling

One of the keys to good surfing is learning how to correctly paddle the surfboard. A good paddler catches plenty of waves while poor paddlers spend most of their time and energy missing them. So, here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your surfing by developing your paddling skills.

The beginner frequently has difficulty paddling because of poor body positioning on the board. If you are too far back on the board it will tilt up in the front and you will be pushing water, this will slow you down. If you are too far forward on your surfboard then the nose will sink or pearl, another bummer. Remember, your surfboard is balanced correctly and under control when the nose is one or two inches out of the water. The flatter the board is on the surface of the water the better it will glide... glide is good.

Try to feel comfortable on your board, be centered and look closely at the tip as you begin paddling. If you pay close attention to how well the board is moving through the water you will see right away if you need to reposition your body in order to improve your glide. 

Paddle one arm at a time in a rounded circuler motion. Stretch the arm outright, fingertips pointed and together and have the hand enter the water smoothly. Bring the arm down and through, making sure to complete the stroke at the finish... much like in freestyle swimming, only now you are on a big floation device. Keep your eyes focused on the tip of your board to make sure that the surfboard is flat on the water and that you are pointed straight in toward the beach. This will help you get the right angle into the wave.

When you are paddling out to get to the surf, try to pace yourself. Depending on where you are surfing, the first paddle out from shore can be difficult. You may have to paddle a long way or for a long time, so take it easy, don't burn out. The difficulty in paddling out is more due to the prevailing surf conditions and how well you deal with the oncoming surf, than it is how fast you can paddle. We will cover how to deal with tons of cascading whitewater in an upcoming article.

When you try to paddle in to the whitewater wave, or if you have advanced to the outside, you must sprint to catch the wave. Eight or nine of the hardest deepest strokes that you can summon up. You must bring the surfboard up to speed as the oncoming wave rushes up from behind, while remaining perpendicular to the wave. Thats the difficult part and also why its so much fun to do !!!