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Phuket Surf School


A quick learn to surf guide
for newcomers to the sport/lifestyle/obsession of surfing

How to Paddle a Surfboard

Paddling is probably one of the most important skills to develop in your first months of surfing. Studies have shown that surfers spend over 50% of their time in the water paddling. Most of the common problems of catching waves as a beginner can be directly related to a poor or inefficient paddling technique.

paddling a surfboard smoothly

  • Your paddle stroke should be essentially like a crawl swimming stroke.
  • Keep your fingers relaxed and spread
  • Use deep strokes, as close to the surfboard as possible.
  • Be relaxed, tense arms make for an inefficient stroke.
  • It should be smooth and not splashing lots of water about the place.
  • Your head and body should be straight and balanced on the surfboard.
  • The paddling stroke should be efficient not necessarily fast.

The basic paddling stroke is easy to learn, but paddling efficiently takes lots of practice. Over time you will get better at paddling your surfboard, which will eventually result in you having to paddle less as each stroke becomes more efficient, and you will be catching every wave you want.

Get a feel for paddling around on the surfboard and the balance of it, one of the most important skills that helps with paddling is where you lay on the surfboard.

Other Points

When you first start out you will get some chest discomfort after surfing, especially around the bottom rib bones. The next time you go surfing it can be quite painful. This is normal and after a few times out in the water you won't experience this anymore.

The other thing that you will get is a rash on your chest and nipples, this can be painful too!! This is also normal and will also go away after a few surfs. If not, invest in a rash guard or rash vest. Now you know the reason why a rash guard is called a rash guard/vest.

Paddling Tip

Once you get better at paddling, you can try the 'S' stroke this is not much different except that you curve your stroke so that your hands go under the surfboard. The S stroke helps the water move faster under the board giving you more power and speed.

Other FAQs

How to fix your surfboard

How to spray paint your surfboard


How to forecast the surf

How to ride a body board


Where can I find Learn to Surf Books & DVDs?



All About Surfing::Saltwater Dreaming::

mailing/postal address

Saltwater Dreaming
108/3 moo 3
Cheongthalay, Thalang
Phuket 83110
Tel: +66 76 271050
Fax: +66 76 325629
URL: www.saltwater-dreaming.com

Surf Shop (location map)
Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand