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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… .


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