Paddle boarding is a versatile and exhilarating water activity that offers more than just standing up on a board. While the name suggests standing, there’s no rule saying you can’t paddle board on your knees. In fact, knee paddling is gaining popularity for its unique advantages. Whether you’re a beginner seeking stability or facing challenging weather conditions, paddling on your knees can be a game-changer.
The Versatility of Paddle Boarding
Paddle boarding is not limited to a single posture. While standing is the traditional approach, kneeling and sitting positions are equally viable. Some enthusiasts even treat knee paddling as a distinct discipline. In fact, you’ll find specialized paddle boards designed specifically for knee paddling.
Getting in the Knee Paddling Position
To begin knee paddling, simply walk your paddle board into knee-deep water. Place the board gently on the water’s surface and stabilize it with both hands on either side. Climb onto the board and find your balance. Avoid leaning excessively and ensure a comfortable position. Once you’re ready, start paddling.
Transitioning from a standing position to kneeling is just as easy. Bring your paddle board to a stop, hold it firmly on both sides for stability, and slowly lower yourself to your knees. With your eyes focused ahead, you can start paddling from the kneeling position.
Adjusting Your Paddle Grip for Knee Paddling
When paddling on your knees, your grip on the paddle needs to be adjusted for optimal efficiency. Instead of one hand on the T-bar at the top, both hands should be placed on the paddle shaft. The lower hand should be nearer to the blade, while the upper hand should be positioned slightly above the middle point of the shaft. Experiment with different hand positions to find the one that gives you the best leverage.
If you have an adjustable paddle, you can further enhance your knee paddling experience. Shorten the paddle’s height to accommodate your kneeling position, making it more manageable and comfortable.
Mastering the Art of Paddle Stroke
Even when knee paddling, it’s essential to utilize the correct paddling technique. This not only gives you a satisfying workout but also minimizes the risk of injury. Maintain good posture by keeping your back relaxed, just as you would when standing. Avoid arching or slouching, as the power should come from your shoulder, back, and core muscles. This approach ensures that your arms don’t get overworked.
Reach forward with your paddle and immerse the blade fully into the water. As the blade reaches your feet, remove it from the water. Keep the paddle shaft as vertical as possible, with the upper hand directly above the bottom hand. By keeping the blade close to the SUP board rail, you’ll achieve a smooth and straight trajectory.
When to Opt for Knee Paddling
While standing is the go-to position for paddle boarding, there are situations where knee paddling offers distinct benefits.
For Beginners and Added Stability
If you’re new to paddle boarding or struggle with balance, knee paddling provides a lower center of gravity and increased stability. It’s an excellent option for gaining confidence while reducing the chances of falling off the board. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the board and perfecting your paddling technique without worrying about balance.
Battling Blustery Winds
The wind can greatly affect your paddling experience. When confronted with strong headwinds, knee paddling becomes advantageous. By lowering yourself to a kneeling position, you decrease the surface area exposed to the wind, reducing resistance. This adjustment allows for more efficient paddle strokes and better control of your board.
Navigating Rough Water Conditions
Choppy waters or large waves can lead to unexpected falls from your paddle board. In rough conditions, knee paddling provides greater stability, reducing the risk of being knocked off your board. By maintaining a lower center of gravity, you’ll be better equipped to stay onboard and regain control of your paddle board.
Shallow and Unsafe Waters
Navigating shallow waters can be hazardous, particularly if there are hidden rocks or hard obstacles. Although it’s generally best to avoid shallow water, there are instances where it’s unavoidable. In such cases, knee paddling offers improved balance and decreased impact in case of a fall. By kneeling instead of standing, you reduce the chances of sustaining serious injuries.
Transitioning from Kneeling to Standing
Transitioning from a kneeling position to standing can be done smoothly with a few simple steps. Hold the paddle board firmly on both sides to maintain stability. Replace one knee with a foot, followed by the other foot. Your feet should be positioned on either side of the center carry handle. Slowly stand up and immediately start paddling to maintain balance. Remember to keep your knees slightly bent, your back straight and relaxed, and your focus ahead.
Paddle boarding on your knees offers a unique approach to the sport, providing stability, control, and enhanced maneuverability. Whether you’re a beginner, facing challenging weather conditions, or navigating tricky waters, knee paddling can be a valuable tool in your paddle boarding arsenal. Adjust your paddle grip, focus on your paddle strokes, and enjoy the benefits of knee paddling. With this guide, you now have the confidence to explore and make the most of this alternative paddle boarding technique.
So, grab your paddle board, embrace the freedom of knee paddling, and embark on a new and exciting paddle boarding adventure!