When paddlers are looking to buy a carbon paddle, they often spend hours deciding what the best brand is, what specs are ideal, and what design to get on their paddle. Although these are all very important, they often underestimate one very important attribute that highly affects paddling performance, paddle size. Paddle size has a direct relation to form and technique. If your paddle is the wrong size, you may not be executing the right technique. If it is too long, you may be dropping your top hand during recovery to clear the water which causes splash and timing issues, and having a high top arm during your stroke which may cause shoulder injuries. If the paddle is too short, you won’t be able to get that heavy water and you will be expending more energy trying to do so.
There are a few steps to correctly size your paddle.
Step 1: Identify your holding position
Find where your outer arm grips the paddle when you take each stroke. It should be roughly a fist from the start of the blade.
Step 2: Flip your paddle so that your handle is touching the waterline
You should be extending your arm directly in front of you so that your arm is parallel to the surface of the water. Grab the paddle with your arm still parallel to the surface and with the handle of the paddle still touching the surface of the water.
Step 3: Check your position
Check if your hand is currently holding the paddle one fist away from start of the blade. You should be holding the paddle in the same location as you were in step 1.
Though this is a general rule of thumb for finding a paddle size, it may change depending on the type of stroke your team executes, the type of boat you are on, or your personal build or paddling style. Make sure you choose the right paddle size when it is time to make that upgrade.
Please use this Guide to help you determine what size paddle is right for you.