The Most Common Surfing Paddling Fallacy

Every once in a while I hear someone provide
a paddling technique which I would consider the most common mistaken belief. They say, “arch your back as high as you
can – you’ll get leverage, and that’s all you need to know to paddle”. So let’s investigate that technique using
an example. Here is a young, but experienced, surfer who
came to me seeking a one on one stroke analysis so that he can paddle more efficiently, affectively
saving more energy so that he can catch more waves. He had the high arched back and told me he
was told to do that “to provide more leverage when paddling”. You can clearly see the high arch and even
see how this technique does in fact provide leverage in the power portion of the stroke. But how then does he become 25% more efficient
in his stroke, taking 22 fewer strokes per minute, or 1,320 fewer strokes per hour, going
the EXACT same speed as before, with a lowered arch? It even looks smoother of a stroke. This must be a rare case – a one-time occurrence. No, I got it, it must only work for young
surfers. But here’s a completely different client,
a bit older, with a 24% improvement in stroke efficiency by lowering the arch. And these are all both experienced surfers. The high arch does provide leverage, but at
what cost? Obviously, around a 25% cost in efficiency
and speed. The point is – there are other, less energy
consuming ways, to get the leverage this technique refers to, and to get even more speed and
power from your stroke, than arching the back higher and higher. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to go into
the details now as to why there is such a difference and what those techniques are. If you’re interested in that, sign up for
the surfing paddling academy online course, or sign up for a virtual stroke analysis session
with me, or come visit us here for an in person stroke analysis session. In the meantime, the next time someone tells
you to arch your back to get more leverage when paddling, think about this video about
the most common surfing paddling fallacy. I truly hope this helps you. If you’re interested in more, check out to see how you can catch more waves, with less effort. See you in the water…

1 thought on “The Most Common Surfing Paddling Fallacy

  1. Really interesting. I'm unable to arch anyways (started surfing at 28, with a very stiff back), but always believed the high arch advantage was mostly better vision of the lineup and coming wave. Plus it lets you move weight up front when catching the wave by just leaning back down. What do better surfers think about that?

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