- Paddle Height – How Big Is Yo Stick?
This is the most important part of your whole SUP experience! If your paddle is too tall, or too short you will be working harder than necessary. This can even causing shoulder and back injuries. If you buy a solid shaft paddle (non adjustable) always cut it taller at first. You can cut it shorter if necessary, but you can’t make it taller! There’s a few guides and charts on the inter-webs you can reference. Your best bet Is your local sup specific shop (not a sporting goods store) or find a PaddleFit certified instructor.
- Paddle Weight – How Heavy is Yo Paddle?
The materials, size, and design will dictate how much your paddle will weigh. How heavy your paddle is will effect how you perform. A lighter paddle will put less strain on your body allowing you to get more STROKES PER MINUTE, keep proper form avoiding injury, and being more efficient.
- Purpose – What Kind of Paddling Do You Do?
There are many different styles of paddleboarding; racing, surf, white water, AND SUP POLO??? There’s all kinds of “activity” specific paddles out in the market: you name it someone makes it. So that being said, what is practical for you? Be smart do your research and consult your local sup shop.
In Racing: You’ll want a lighter paddle allowing for less swing weight. Resulting in a higher stroke rate and less fatigue.
Surf: You’ll want a small flat blade with a shorter shaft allowing you to place your blade in the face of the wave with more ease.
Whitewater: Weight mostly goes out the window as you are looking for durability to with stand the blows it will take from rocks and other hard objects in the shallow waters.
Flat Water/Recreational: A longer shaft, medium size blade will accommodate easy cruising and very little strain on the body.
SUP POLO?: Some of you are wondering what this even is… Just watch the video below and you can come to your own conclusion on what paddle will be best for it.
- Blade Size – Is Bigger really always better?
Bigger isn’t always better. Blade size is measured in surface area (sq/in or sq/cm ) and just like the height of your paddle and your pants there is a size for you . The inter-webs has charts and recommendations for you. Don’t just listen to your buddy who says you need a 120 sq/in blade, it might not be best for YOU. A bigger blade is heavier and harder to recover at the end of your stroke, therefore less efficient. You want a blade that grabs just enough water to pull you and your board forward. No one cares how big it is, its how you use it!
Rule of thumb: Typically your paddle blade is going to follow your body type.
- Materials – What’s it REALLY made of?
What your paddle could be made of: plastic, carbon, fiberglass, aluminum, kevlar, or even (the same thing we have been using for 100’s of years….) Wood. Each of these have attributes that match your needs, and your budget. That being said be cautious of fakes such as a carbon paddle for cheap that are actually fiberglass inside and a very thin carbon finish on the outside. Looks good but heavy and weak. Also, there’s the common fiberglass painted black to look like carbon. Asked questions to make sure if you are wanting to purchase a Carbon paddle, you are getting a true carbon paddle.
If style is what you’re going for, wood is a great option. Just know good care and maintenance is necessary.
Click HERE for more info about paddles and a convenient sizing chart
By Coach Cody