Improve your paddling even when you’re not surfing

Improve your surfing paddle power

Getting that noodle arm feeling a bit too often? It’s a definite sign that you need to build strength and endurance in your upper body. Improved paddle power means less time spent battling the whitewater. It also means paddling to the peak rather than waiting for the peak to come to you! You’ll surf more efficiently and increase your overall wave count.

The best way to improve your surf paddling is to get in the sea and paddle but as we all know that’s not always possible, especially if you don’t live by the beach. To maintain that strength, you’re going to need to work on it in between surfs.

Follow these tips and you’ll be powering outback in no time.

Hit the pool

Swimming is the next best thing to paddling out on your board. Hit the pool, get down with your front crawl and do some serious lengths to get your heart rate going. As with your surfing, you’ll get the most out of your pool sessions if you swim efficiently, so if you think your technique could do with some attention, invest in some coaching. It’s also worth extending it into some open water swimming. You’ll get more practice with your wetsuit on and the distances are more akin to paddling out back.

Resistance chord training

If you’re not a fan of swimming or can’t get to a pool, the power stroke chord is the next best thing. It targets all the major muscle groups used in the upper body for surf paddling and helps improve muscle strength and endurance. There are plenty of exercise movements you can do from multi-directional paddling to parallel arm paddles.

Simply attach the chord to something secure, fire up You Tube for some instructional videos and away you go!

Strength training

You can incorporate targeted shoulder exercises into your gym routine or do them at home. These will help to strengthen and condition muscles which will help to stabilise your shoulders. Key shoulder exercises include lateral raises, shoulder clocks and press-ups.


Lots of surfers (including the pros) swear by yoga to help build strength and flexibility. It’s also key to injury prevention, can help restore energy and eliminate imbalances and improve your posture.

Targeted shoulder opening poses include Eagle pose, Dolphin and Bow. If you’re new to yoga, try a class to get you started before moving onto targeted practise at home.

Check your body position

Finally, when you do get some time in the surf, make sure that you focus on your paddle technique. Positioning yourself correctly on the board will improve your paddling efficiency immensely. Also, make sure you put that yoga workout to good use and arch your back. Concentrate on the details like keeping your hands cupped and reaching as far forward as you can when you stroke. These things will all add up to more efficient paddling meaning you get more waves.

Image credit: Cameron Kirby via Unsplash

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