travis grant paddling away from the camera

Technique with Travis – improve your SUP paddling style

This technique with Travis tutorial is one of several clips in an NSP exclusive series of short, instructional videos by Travis Grant. In this episode he explains how to improve your SUP paddling style. His tips and techniques will help racers like yourself to better and perhaps iron out some of the kinks in your current routines.

Sure, paddling seems like one of the more basic things to cover, but having proper technique will make a tremendous difference. Whether you are on a long or a short course, the proper paddling technique is bound to come out on top. Bad paddling technique usually gets you back pains and a sub-par performance. Plus, there is a choice of blade surface paddlers struggle with – more on that below the video.

Travis explains proper paddling technique

A word on paddle blade sizes

In the current NSP line-up, there’s two sizes; 94 and 86. Since the right choice tends to be a little counterintuitive and depends on several factors, I always try to make an assessment of what type of rider I am talking to. There are a few general rules though:

Why pick blade size 86

Considering that the 86 is smaller than the 94, you can imagine the strain on your shoulders is considerably less. So generally speaking, I recommend size 86 to riders over 40. But for longer distances, you also have to take the strain of a larger blade into consideration so for extended races or tours, an 86 makes more sense as well.

Why pick blade size 94

The 94 is the bigger size in the NSP line up and has several advantages over the smaller 86. First off, the bigger athletes will appreciate the added size as it allows the rider more “traction” if you will. This is a valuable advantage in sprint races, and riders using different size blades will often resort to their bigger blades during a sprint race.

For beginners, a bigger blade also allows you to catch mistakes easier. Counteracting an imbalance with a 94 blade will often give you the necessary resistance to correct yourself, while a 86 blade will give you less leverage when you lean on it.

Note: Using a 94 blade in long-distance racing is definitely not your best option, as the 86 is that much easier on the body.

Main Takeaways from this episode


Being able to give a race your consistent 100% requires you to be completely comfortable.


A lower hand on your paddle allows for more power, whereas a higher grip allows for more speed.


Focus on attacking the water rather than reaching to generate the most power.


Push down on the paddle, not forward, while keeping the blade at a positive angle for the most efficient stroke.

About Travis

Travis Grant is a stand-up paddle athlete with several world titles under his belt, including Molokai, the Carolina Cup, King of the Harbour NZ and countless others.

You’ll notice that at the beginning of the video, Travis casually references stand-up paddling as opposed to OC, or outrigger canoe. This is because Travis is a very accomplished OC paddler as well, having won Molokai both stand up paddling AND sitting down in a high-performance canoe. We’re the first ones to admit everyone is different, but to improve your SUP paddling style, it can’t hurt to learn from someone of Travis’s caliber.

Travis Grant in his winning Kamanu Composites canoe (Pic by SUPracer)

Also in this how-to series:

Technique with Travis – Proper paddle length
Technique with Travis – Buoy Turning
Technique with Travis – Racing Strategy
Technique with Travis – Choosing your SUP fins
Technique with Travis – Recessed decks and what does it do?
Technique with Travis – How to do fast beach starts

Video by: Taylor Johnson