How Do You Paddle Straight On A Sup? 6 Easy Tips

You cannot really love stand up paddle boarding until you know how to paddle a SUP in a straight line.

In the past, we have looked at quite a few “how-to” articles, as we try to turn you into successful paddleboarders.

We looked at how to get back on a paddle board after falling, for fall you will! We also looked at how to keep balance on a paddle board.

In yet another article, we saw very helpful tips for how to steer a paddle board.

And so on and so forth. In fact, we also did a couple of articles on what to wear for paddle boarding.

In this short article, we are going to see how to paddle a SUP in a straight line. So, how do you go about it? Keep reading!

How to paddle board straight: Actionable Tips

This is not simple, so it will require some practice. However, when learning to drive a car or ride a bike, we say drive or ride more often until it comes second nature to you. So, practice hard to master the following techniques for how to keep a paddle board straight.

But first, watch the short video below. It will show you the basics of paddling a board straight:

1. Choose a good paddle board

Truth be told … some stand-up paddle boards are better than others for speed, and for maintaining a straight line.

For instance, the Easy Eddy 3-Piece Modular Paddle Board is a winner when it comes to control. Not only is it wide, weighty, and stable, but it is made to make your ride as easy as possible. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced SUP enthusiast, you will love this board.

There are SUP brands to avoid, and some to consider. If you fail at choosing a stand up paddle board, your failure starts right there.

Between solid and inflatable SUP boards, the solids might be better for a beginner who wants to practice paddling in a straight line. But they are a bit hard to find, so you can go with a wide inflatable SUP board, which is more stable.

2. Make your SUP paddle stroke straight

One of the most common mistakes that newbie SUP lovers do is to keep the paddle diagonally instead of lengthwise. This is what makes their SUP boards hard to trim.

The one way that you can be able to paddle board in a straight line is to stack your hands on each other. This means holding the paddle close to the middle with one hand while you hold the top with the other.

That way, when you start paddling, you will be pushing the water backward in a straight line rather than pulling diagonally.

3. Keep the paddle flat and straight

When you are steering the paddle board, you turn the paddle at an angle. Thus, it is only logical that when you want the board to go straight, you should keep the paddle flat. This is something that you will have to work at harder to master the skill.

4. Maintain the right stance on the board

Always stand on the broadest part of the board, which is in the middle. There, you should keep your feet shoulder width apart.

Image of paddle board straight line

Before you start SUP paddling, you should also check that the feet are at the same distance from the edges. If one foot is too much inside, that could tip the balance of the paddle board, which would in turn make how to paddle board straight hard.

5. Paddle away from the edges of the board

The paddle board edges are never straight. Rather, they are curved. Therefore, if you paddle along the rails of the SUP board, you will keep hitting it. This is going to make you lose balance, and it will make the board hard to steer.

As you keep the paddle from the rails of the SUP board, you also need to keep the paddle vertical and straight. Do not angle it.

Thus, the proper way to paddle board is to keep the paddle from the edge of the board.  And remember to paddle straight to the back from the front. That SUP paddle technique keeps the board moving in a straight line.

6. Use the correct fin

Believe it or not, maintaining a straight paddle board direction can depend on the fin a great deal. For a beginner SUP board, it is best to start with a large fin with a wide base.

A large fin will make your SUP paddling technique a bit slow. However, as soon as you are able to keep the board with a large fin moving straight, you can try one with a smaller fin.

SUP boards with small fins are for speed, so racers use them most of the time. Soon, you can graduate to such boards and enjoy yourself tremendously.

To learn how to stay straight on your course, use a large fin! A board with detachable fin helps you to interchange the fins.

Why does my paddle board not go straight?

I can tell you the types of troubles I had when I was learning how to paddle straight. I just could not keep it tracking in a straight manner. Now, thinking back to it, the reasons I have outlined below made it hard for me to keep the board straight:

Angled paddle when making a stroke

This keeps the paddle a distance from the paddle board. And this has the effect of pushing the board in the opposite direction.

To solve this, just keep the paddle vertical to the board’s edge. Accomplishing this requires your top paddle hand to always stay aligned to the edge of the board rather than outside it. The more you practice this stroke, the better you become.


If there is wind, it will tend to make your board want to go in its direction. It makes paddle boarding in the ocean harder, and it can make a paddle boarding beginner sweat hard trying to keep the board straight. To avoid this, choose the most appropriate times when the water is calm and there is no wind.

Looking down instead of ahead

If you keep your head looking down at the nose of the board, it means you are not seeing ahead. Therefore, you will not be able to aim the board at an imaginary point and keep it going there in a straight line.

Looking down too long can also lead to dizziness, and the monotonous motion of the water is not exactly very endearing. In fact, this could even make you fall off the paddle board. So, look ahead!

Improper weight distribution on the board

Distributing your weight properly enhances your paddle board balance. And as it turns out, balancing properly does not only prevent you from falling into the water, but it also helps you to paddle in a straight line.

The fact is, if you are closer to the right edge/rail, the board will turn to the left when you start paddling, and vice versa. Both feet should leave the same distance from the rails.

The type of stroke

There are different types of paddle board strokes, and some can make the board easier to propel in a straight line, while others do the opposite.

The J-stroke is the best for keeping the paddle board moving ahead in a straight line. It also adds a kick of strength at the end of the stroke, thereby making your work easier.

Using the C-stroke can make it harder for the board to move in a straight line, but once you get used to it, it becomes easier. It means reaching out further from the board with the paddle, bringing the paddle closer to the board, stroking it in a straight line towards the tail and then taking it out at the end of the stroke, forming a letter C kind of stroke.


That is it for how to keep a paddle board straight. However, to get the hang of this, practice as much as you can. If you only enjoy SUP paddling twice or thrice a year only, you will never be able to keep the board completely straight.

The good thing is that you never forget how to paddle a SUP in a straight line.

If you are yet to get into stand up paddle boarding, you might consider getting the DAMA Inflatable SUP Board from It is the full package.

Please check my other posts on:

What is a characteristic of a Type 3 life jacket?

Best ISLE Stand Up Paddle Board Review

Can You Use A Paddle Board On A River?

Where To Paddle Board In Santa Cruz

Best Paddle Boarding in San Diego

Does Paddle Board Need Good Balance? Big Yes!

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