How to Gain Speed on Your SUP

Woman Enjoys Stand Up Paddle Surfing In Key West


It’s human nature to be competitive, and the best way to be the best iSUPer out there is to increase your speed. Whether you’re just enjoying the water or catching some sets, you want to paddle the waters swiftly and efficiently.

The speed you reach on your iSUP comes down to two things: the distance you gain with each stroke and how many strokes you take. If you want to look like a pro and feel like a pro, you have to stroke like a pro.

  • Reach

How you start each stroke sets the motion for its entirety. Position your shoulders so you can reach your paddle far into the water. The further in front of you your paddle goes, the larger your stroke will be. The larger the stroke, the more distance gained.

Use the muscles in your arms and shoulders to power through the most important part of gaining speed on an iSUP, it’ll pay off when you’re cruising by others.

  • Push

Have any built up stress? Here’s the time to release it. When you reach your paddle forward and push it into the water, push it HARD. Don’t just use your arms for this, throw your whole body into it. Your goal here is to push the blade deep into the water and plow through the entire stroke.

Tip: Rate the power of your strokes on a scale of 1-5. Do ten sets at each power level, and notice the difference in the speed and distance you reach.


  1. Level 1- Just use arm strength, dip the blade into the water and lightly pull through.
  2. Level 2- Just use arm strength, push half the blade into the water and pull through.
  3. Level 3- Use arm and shoulder strength, push half the blade into the water and pull through.
  4. Level 4- Use arm and shoulder strength, push the blade deep into the water, and pull through.
  5. Level 5- Use your whole body to push the blade deep into the water and pull through the entire motion.
  • Position

Don’t fall into the trap of swinging your paddle back around in a wide motion. Aim for a straight motion opposed to a circular motion. The more time you spend on bringing your paddle forward to start another stroke is less time to spend on gaining momentum.

Also, using the correct paddle motion is important to avoiding shoulder and spine injuries. Correct paddle strokes each day keep the doctor away.

  • Pull

Think of your paddle like a knife. Which will slice through a piece of fruit the fastest, the flat side or the sharp, thin blade? Use the same mindset when pulling your paddle out of the water after a strong stroke. Position the blade of your paddle parallel to your board when it comes time to complete the stroke. The paddle will easily slice through the water opposed to resisting.

  • Length

Avoid over-paddling. After you dig your paddle deep into the water, pull it back only to your feet. If you continue paddling behind you, you lose speed because your body isn’t in a position of strength. Use the time previously spent on pushing your paddle behind you to set up for the next stroke.

Combine each element for a smooth, fast stroke hence an enhanced iSUP experience. Spend the time on your strokes and speed will be the result.


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