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Tips and detailed technique breakdown of different ways to turn a SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard)
There are several ways to steer and turn a Stand Up Paddleboard, in this post we will cover the basic steering strokes, crossover (or crossbow) turns and pivot (or step back) turns in videos, images, and text.
A) As a beginner, first learn the basic forward and reverse steering strokes:
How to SUP with Verena Mei- Part 4: How to turn a Stand Up Paddleboard- this video covers how to steer the board with steering (or sweeping strokes), as well as reverse sweep strokes. It also covers how to go straight using forward strokes. We recommend practicing steering on your knees close to shore first to make sure you understand how to turn the board before heading out too far.
Backward steering strokes on the left side and forward steering strokes on the right side will both turn the board to the left (see photo below). Always change sides when going from backward steering strokes to forward steering strokes. A common mistake is to do both forward and backward strokes on the same side when attempting to turn, resulting in strokes that cancel each other out.
B) A slightly more advanced maneuver, the cross-over turn, is covered in this video:
The crossover (or crossbow) turn is a great way to turn a stand up paddle board if steering strokes are not enough but you don't want to use a backward stroke that will slow down your forward momentum. Robert Stehlik demonstrates the proper SUP cross over steering technique: reaching over the nose of the board without changing hands, placing the blade in the water angled slightly outward, acting as a rudder angled slightly against the forward movement, this redirects the direction of the board and can be followed up with a stroke towards the nose, then lifting the paddle over the nose and following up with a forward sweeping stroke on the other side. This is a great move for SUP racing, stand up surfing, and downwinders, when you don't want to step back for a pivot turn but still want to maintain forward momentum, unlike a backward stroke.
Without changing hands, reach the paddle over the nose of the board and angle blade as a rudder to initiate the turn.
2) Pull the paddle towards the nose of the board, repeat or lift paddle over the board and complete turn with a sweeping stroke as in photo below.
C) The step back turn is the quickest way to turn a board around and also the most challenging. Practicing pivot turns is a great way to improve balance and a good way to prepare for SUP surfing and downwinders in flatwater conditions.
The pivot turn or step back turn is a great maneuver to practice in flat water that will help prepare you for SUP surfing, SUP racing and downwinders on a Stand Up Paddle board.
It will help you improve footwork, balance and steering strokes. The basic steps are:
1) moving from parallel stance to surf stance with the feet placed on the centerline of the board.
2) moving back on the board to a balanced position where the tail sinks but the tilt of the board can be controlled by moving body weight forward or backward.
3) Taking wide sweeping strokes, angling the blade to the side, away from the nose to maximize the effectiveness of the steering strokes.
4) As the board approaches the new direction, step or jump back into a parallel stance at the center of the board to paddle in the new direction.
Also covered in the video: first practice pivot turns by sitting on board and kneeling before trying it standing up. A more advanced version of the pivot turn is to put weight on the nose and pivot the board with the fins out of the water. Good footwork and balance is the key to success, so have fun practicing.
Have fun and be safe.
Aloha, Robert Stehlik