How to Hold a Paddleboard Paddle in 5 Steps

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Expert: Cameron – I have been active in all water-based adventures since 2014. In my youth I would stay with my uncle in Florida who introduced me to paddleboarding and have enjoyed SUP ever since. While traveling I frequently rent paddleboards to explore coastlines. I also surf out of tropical areas such as Hawaii and Guam to include my shoreline at home on the Emerald Coast with my SUP.

Paddleboarding, a dynamic water activity that combines tranquility and exercise, hinges on the proper use of essential gear.

The central component of this sport is the paddle itself.

If you are stuck or just don’t want to embarrass yourself when out on your SUP, fear not.

In this guide, we show 5 simple steps to hold your paddle properly and emphasize the significance of mastering paddle holding techniques.

Let us delve into the mechanics of an effective paddle grip, exploring its impact on control and performance.

Related: What is Paddleboarding?

How to Hold Your SUP Paddle in 5 Quick Steps

This paddle holding technique is know as the T-grip.

This grip should be your default holding for your paddle since it is the most secure and reliable.

1: Rest the Paddle On Top of Your Head

Raise your SUP paddle above your head and gently rest in on top of your head.

Have the blade slope of the paddle facing up to ensure your hands are gripped properly.

Don’t Want to Look Like a Beginner Paddleboarder?

It only take a few seconds, but holding your paddle over your head may seem embarrassing.

If this is the case for you, follow the steps on the guide at home and mark on the paddle where your leading hand goes with a marker or tape.

Doing this with tape will give you a physical mark to feel for when switching hands as well.

2: Position One Hand on the Grip and Other on the Shaft

Which hand on the handle and shaft depends on the side of the SUP you are paddling on.

The hand on the shaft should be the same as the side you are paddling on.

More on this in step 4 of this paddle guide.

3: Adjust Your Hands Until Your Elbows Reach 90º

Ideally the hand on the shaft of the paddle should be around halfway down the length.

Avoid gripping the paddle too wide, as this can lead to inefficient strokes.

On the other end, placing your hands too close together can also compromise your stroke efficiency.

Achieving the optimal hand placement ensures that each paddle stroke propels you efficiently through the water.

4: Switch Hands When Switching Sides to Paddle On

Woman Switching Paddle Hands on SUP

If your paddling on the left side of your paddleboard your left hand should be on the shaft of the paddle.

When paddling on the right side of your SUP your right hand should be on the shaft.

5: The Paddle Blade Should be Facing Forward When Using

This may not seem like a gripping step but the positioning of the paddle matters for best energy conservation.

Why Not Hold the Blade Facing Back?

It may seem like you will grab more water if you hold your paddle like this, which is true.

However, you will be pulling water up instead of propelling yourself forward.

This will make you waste a lot of energy in an activity that is already going to be requiring a lot depending on the distance you will paddle.

Paddle Components and Holding Techniques

A paddle comprises three main components: the blade, shaft, and handle.

Each of these components plays a crucial role in determining how the paddle performs and how it should be held.

Understanding the relationship between paddle design and holding technique is fundamental to a successful paddleboarding experience.

Related: What attire to wear when paddleboarding.

Basic Paddle Holding Techniques

There are two primary grip techniques used in paddleboarding, the T-grip and the palm grip.


The T-grip, as the name suggests, involves gripping the T-shaped handle at the top of the paddle shaft.

This is what we achieved in our previous steps.

As mentioned before, this will be the most common grip you will come across when seeing others on their paddleboards.

Palm Grip

Woman Paddleboarding on Knees

The palm grip involves holding the paddle shaft with both hands, palms facing downwards.

You can liken this to holding a kayak paddle where there is not an end grip.

Most will not typically see this grip being used but can be more comfortable to some on SUPs.

You may want to use this when kneeling or sitting down on your paddleboard.

Balancing Body Alignment

A well-balanced body alignment is crucial for effective paddleboarding strokes.

Keeping the paddle shaft vertical during each stroke optimizes its efficiency.

Additionally, distributing your weight evenly on the board helps maintain stability.

These factors work in harmony to enhance your paddleboarding experience and maneuverability on the water.

Matching Technique to Conditions

Woman on SUP

Adapting your paddle holding technique to different conditions is vital for a successful paddleboarding experience.

Calm waters require different strokes compared to choppy waters.

If you’re aiming for speed, your technique will differ from when you prioritize maneuverability.

Tailoring your paddle grip to match the conditions enhances your overall performance.


In this article we laid out 5 quick and simple steps to holding your paddle when heading out to get on your paddleboard.

Resting your paddle on your head allows you to easily find your proper grip length.

Moving your elbows to a right angle gives you the correct distance of your hand placement on the shaft of the paddle with your other hand on the handle.

Depending on the side of your paddleboard you are using your paddle on, ensure the correct hand is on the shaft of the paddle.

Remember to keep the blade slope pointed to the front of your SUP as well.

Beyond this we broke down the components of the paddle and some common grip techniques.

Keep in mind your body alignment and your technique to what the water conditions are and you will ensure the best paddleboard experience every time you’re in the water.

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