-Bend forward from the hips with your back straight and your arms stretched out toward the nose of the paddleboard. SUP Instructor Dave Kalama refers to it as hinging from the hips because bending sometimes causes people to hunch their backs.
-As you go to put the paddle in the water consciously use your body weight to drive the blade all the way down into the water. Remember to hinge from the hips and keep your arms straight so that your back remains straight.
-Once your paddle blade is totally submerged THEN thrust your hips forward keeping your upper arm straight. As you come back to your starting upright position your paddle will draw back towards your feet.
One thing you want to watch for is the tendency to bend at your knees to get your paddle into the water. This will not give you the power you need to gain more speed. Whereas hinging at the hips will because this is what engages your core muscles. Your core muscles will be the engine that drives you forward as your hips and hands draw closer together during the stroke. But this technique only works effectively if your blade is all the way down into the water.
When you start practicing this technique stay conscious of keeping your arms as straight as you can throughout the first part of the stroke. This will force you to use your core muscles as your hips move forward. Then visualize your top shoulder driving outwards towards the nose of your paddleboard at the same time you’re bending at the hips so that your shoulders align vertically and your paddle is straight up and down to the water.
Practice these steps slowly at first in sets of 5 or 10 strokes. Feel how different the strokes are to the way you normally paddle. Then try again going a little bit longer each time until it becomes part of your natural rhythm. In time, you will have a brand new stroke that offers you much more power and glide without sapping your energy. There are several more things to keep in mind as you practice this technique:
–Make sure your hands are far enough apart on the paddle. At least shoulder width apart (about half way down).
–Do not paddle past your feet. All the power is located in the area from the nose of your paddleboard to the toes of your feet. Paddle past your feet and you LOSE power.
-In the beginning paddle slowly and stay conscious of your hips, back and shoulder alignment.
Finally, to make everything you need to know work together seamlessly it is really important to take a lesson from a certified instructor at your local shop. They will be able to pick up on the little things that you are doing wrong and give you easy tips to correct them.