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February 28, 2021 5 min read

Wondering how to size your SUP paddle correctly can be confusing. 

Lots of advice on the internet will emphasize picking the right length of your paddle to prevent injuries and poor posture. At the same time, others tell you that the key to better paddleboarding is all about the materials, weight, and size.

Is this true? 

Yes.

However, there’s more to choosing a paddle for your board than this, and that is what we are going to talk about in this article.  

If you’re new to paddle boarding or even experienced, and you want to know more about SUP paddles and how to size them correctly, this short but thorough guide will help you do just that.

Let’s get to it.

Importance of Properly Sizing your SUP Paddles

Properly sizing your SUP paddles

Before we pick the right length of your paddle, let's first answer the question of why. 

Why not just pick a paddle and hit the waters? 

There are many reasons, but the main reason is that a longer than necessary paddle will make your time more difficult in the water. It will feel heavier and more cumbersome. 

A shorter than necessary paddle, on the other hand, will lead to leaning and awkward posture positions, which will take its toll on your body over time.

You need the most convenient paddle without causing unnecessary pain. Before we pick one that meets all your expectations, let’s first understand its parts. 

Parts of a SUP Paddle 

SUP paddle parts

A SUP paddle is not an entirely complicated piece of equipment. It is, however, designed to be light and easy to use, 

Your typical paddle has the following parts:

  • T-Grip — This is the T-shaped part at the top of the blade. It has an ergonomic design that allows it to fit perfectly in your palm. 
  • Shaft — This is the long smooth cylindrical part of the paddle. It’s also where you’re supposed to place your other hand. Your shaft may also come with other parts such as a scale,  which allows you to adjust the paddle’s length.
  • Throat — This part joins the shaft and the blade. 
  • Blade — The flat and wide part of the paddle.
  • Tip — The end of the blade. 

There are two types of paddles — Adjustable and Fixed. 

Adjustable paddles have a dual lock pin and clasp and are great if you’re going to share them with friends and family. 

Fixed paddles can’t be adjusted. 

Understanding these parts will give you something to work with when it comes to hand placement concepts when sizing your paddle. 

Factors to Consider When Adjusting/Picking the Size of your SUP Paddle

Factors to consider of the right SUP paddle size

There’s more to picking a SUP paddle than merely choosing one that is slightly taller than you.

Here are some of the factors to consider before you pick the length of your paddle: 

Individual User 

Many of the considerations you make when picking a paddle have to do with you as a person. 

They include: 

  • The length of your shoulders. If your shoulders are broader than average, it helps to pick a longer paddle.
  • Paddling style — If your technique involves a more upright stance, opt for longer paddles. If you paddle while hunched over, you might get more joy from picking a shorter paddle.
  • General fitness —  people with shoulder or elbow issues will get more benefit from a shorter paddle.

Purpose of the SUP Paddle 

A SUP paddle can be used for many reasons. These include: 

  • Paddle Boarding/Surfing — This might also include exploring and taking on activities that will require you to maneuver a lot. 
  • Racing, touring and activities that involve a lot of tracking. For this, use a longer paddle by one or two inches of your normal height

SUP Paddle Sizing Method

SUP paddle sizing method

You have learned the parts of a paddle and how to determine your paddle’s length by factoring in all the important points above. 

But how do you pick the right length? 

And what is the rule of thumb when it comes to sizing a paddle?? 

Conventionally, it’s advisable to get a paddle that is a good few inches taller than you. This is regarded as the rule of thumb for the height of a paddle. 

Is this correct?

Many people will say yes, but the truth of the matter is that the perfect size for a paddle is different for each person. It depends on your height, weight, stance, and many other factors.

If you’re going racing, then you might want a paddle that is slightly longer for more powerful strokes, and for those who are paddleboarding over waves, you may want a shorter paddle for ease of movement.

The thing to remember is that one size doesn’t suit all. You need to try all the methods mentioned in this guide and choose the one that’s most comfortable and practical for you.

Here are a few more techniques for sizing your SUP paddle. 

Use the Paddle Height Chart

Use a calibrated paddle. This is the easiest way to set your paddle at the right height. It’s also only available for adjustable paddles — The height is marked on the shaft. 

This method is also ideal for making proper adjustments. All you have to do is go through the different heights and pick out what feels most natural for you. 

Laird Hamilton method

This method was prescribed by Laird Hamilton, one of the pioneers of SUP sports. He devised a simple method to size your paddle in a matter of seconds.

He advises that you stand your paddle up vertically so that it is level with your height. Then adjust the height to 3-4 inches above your head. Once done, you can adjust the height of the paddle according to your needs.

Hands up Method 

Hold the paddle parallel against yourself and raise one of your hands as if you are reaching to do a pull-up. The tip of your blade should be touching the ground. Your hand should be outstretched to such a point that the T-grip or end of your paddle fits comfortably in your palm. 

This method is also called the all-around method. It’s ideal for getting a feel of how the paddle will feel once you hit the water. It’s also great for those who want to improve their paddling technique. 

The Shaka Method

Also known as the Surfing method. The Shaka method is most suitable for people who prefer surfing — It offers excellent maneuverability. 

For the Shaka method, place the paddle parallel to yourself with the tip touching the ground. Fold your fist and stick your thumb and pinky out. Place the tip of your thumb on top of your head with the pinky pointed outwards like you are making a “call sign”. 

Now adjust the height of the paddle so that the top aligns with the tip of your pinky. 

Touring Method

This is also called the Eye-level method. It involves turning the paddle upside down so the blade is facing upwards. Now adjust the length of the paddle until your eyes are level to the throat of your paddle. 

The paddle will be a bit longer than that of the hands up method. However, it will be great for touring and racing. This technique also makes the paddle longer which is great for beginners. 

Pick the Right Paddle Today

Pick the right paddle today

Standup Paddleboarding is a fun, thrilling sport for many people. SUP athletes can now compete at World Championships. However, you can only really experience the best of this world by picking the right equipment.

At GILI Sport, we understand that there’s more to this sport than simply learning how to correctly size your SUP paddle. That is why we have a selection of awesome paddleboards, paddles, accessories, and gear to make your time in the water fun and safe.

Jay Regan
Jay Regan

Chief Paddler - Jay has been surfing and paddling for over 5 years. When he's not dreaming up new stuff at GILI, he's writing articles about paddling, out paddling, or often traveling.


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