One of the most used terms in the SUP world is the “A-Frame.” Paddleboarding: What is an A-Frame? And why is it so important?
Well it is pretty simple really, the paddleboard a-frame is the position created by the body and arms while executing a proper paddle stroke. This is created by extending the top hand up above the head and the bottom hand out and away from the body, which creates the shape of an A (as shown in the picture above).
The A-Frame is the foundation for some very important paddle basics like the “reach” and the “catch.” The “reach,” or extending your bottom arm out as far as possible will result in a solid forward stroke and a greater distance per stroke. Imagine a paddleboard stroke without reaching out, a stroke that starts just before your feet and ends two feet passed your heels, is this efficient? Will it generate power? The more efficient part of the stroke is in front of your body, so a good stroke is one that exits at the toes or at the heels and this starts with a good reach, followed by the “catch.” The “catch” is just like it sounds, like catching a baseball. This is the point where the paddle blade catches the water. Be sure that you catch your blade completely in the water first before applying power.
The A Frame, reach, catch and release can be translated into a speed and racing stroke. Notice DFW Surf team rider, Nate Richard, executing a speed stroke wile maintaining an A-Frame foundation. The perfect looking A-shape is tilted here as Nate is generating power by bending at his waist. Notice how his paddle is straight up and down following his catch- this is where power is produced. Lastly, the arms do not have to be completely straight- you will want some bend in your lower arm, especially if you want to increase your stroke rate.