Are you looking to master how to turn a paddle board? We take a look at three paddle board turning techniques for beginners, all do the same but are carried out slightly differently. We will also take a look at a couple of more advanced techniques too.
Paddle Board Turns for Beginners
When you first get in the water, it may very well be about trial and error after all, you can’t read this article while on the water (unless you are very skilled), you may want to try it out on dry land and practise the motions though. When we started, it was very much about playing around and seeing what worked for us. The first turning technique that we learned was the paddle backwards. This was often easier while sitting on the board before we were confident in standing up.
Note – you don’t have to do all of these turns standing up. You can practise sitting down to gain confidence and get a feel for the paddle, the board and how it responds.
The Classic Turn
Quite simply the easiest way to turn the board is to paddle on the opposite side to which you want to turn. Most of you will understand that when you just use the paddle on one side, you will veer off to the other side.
Unless you have mastered the absolute skill of paddling forward using the paddle on one side, you will find yourself veering unless you change sides with the paddle every few strokes. Now, the further towards the back of the board that you draw the paddle, the quicker you will turn which brings us on to the next technique.
The Forward Sweep Stroke
The forward sweep stroke is a turning technique that will give you the most stability and we consider it the easiest to do. Here’s how:
Before you start the turn, make sure you are correctly positioned on the board. This means have a wide stance and slightly bent knees. This gives you balance and helps you to keep the board stable during the turn.
Now what you do next will depend on which way you wish to turn.
- Sweep right to turn left
- Sweep left to turn right
Stretch forward placing your paddle in the water on the appropriate side. Then stretch forward and submerge the paddle in the water.
Now bring the paddle towards the back of the board as you would when paddling normally bit instead of keeping the paddle moving close to the board, you need to arch it away from the board in a rainbow shape from front to back.
So sweep from the nose to the tail of the board in a half circle shape. Do not try and do this at too much speed. Be sure to have control of the board and do it nice and slowly.
As you make the stroke, you will feel the board moving the way you want it to. After a few strokes, you will be facing the opposite way and can carry on paddling normally again.
This was the one I used to turn the board when I was really new to paddling. I just used to paddle backwards. By almost scooping the paddle from the back to the front of the board, you can manoeuvre the boards round in a circle quite quickly. If you can use fast long strokes, it won’t take long.
More Advanced Turning Techniques
When you feel more confident and become a more experienced and established paddle boarders, you may want to look at other techniques for how to turn on a paddle board.
The Cross Bow Turning – Intermediate
You can use this technique to turn the board quickly but it does require balance and a little more experience.
To turn left – twist your body to the left and put the paddle in the water to the left of the board. Bend your knee and keep a low stance to ensure that you remain stable and balances. Now sweep the paddle with a wide arching stroke from the front to the back of the board. As you do this, you will feel the board moving quickly to the left.
To turn right – reverse the steps above!
The Step Back Turn or Pivot Turn – Advanced
This is a turn that is commonly used in SUP racing. It is required when you are making a turn on a race course – around a buoy for example.
- Make sure you paddle is in the water
- Place one foot back to sink the tail of the board into the water (understand now why it is advanced?)
- The further you can step back 0t he faster you will turn
- Keep your front foot on the middle of the board
- Sweep the paddle in an arch from the nose to the tail of the paddle board
- Always wear a leash
- Practise, practise, practise
- If you feel unstable, keep your paddle blade in the water for stability
- Stay low for greater stability
The above techniques can be known by other names so don’t be surprised if you hear them described as something else. They give you a bit more flexibility on the water, can help you turn on an out and back route and will get you out of situations if currents send you heading off in the wrong direction. As with all aspects of paddle boarding, including how to turn on a paddle board, we recommend practising in still, calm water before you take to trickier waters.