How To Paddle Board Against The Current? The Complete Guide

How to Paddle Board against the Current? Standing up on your paddle board, keep your back bent and hold your paddle lower down the shaft. Make your strokes shorter and quicker by holding your paddle lower down the shaft. You can also lie prone on your knees or even on your chest if it’s windy.

Generally, paddle boarding is portrayed as a slow cruise down a glassy, calm river. However, there is so much more to it than that. Paddle boarding is a sport that covers many terrains, including lakes, rivers, canals, the ocean, waves, and white water rapids, which is why it’s essential to equip yourself with a wide range of skills.

Furthermore, since this is an outdoor sport and, as we know, nature can be unpredictable at the best of times, learning how to handle adverse conditions is vital to your safety on the water. In this article, we’re breaking down our top tips on how to Paddle board against the current.

Techniques of how to Paddle Board against the Current or Wind

To paddle against a current, you need to paddle faster than the water is moving. Otherwise, you will go backward. We’re going to discuss some techniques:

Position yourself properly

If your posture and position on the board are correct, it will be easier to paddle in calm and challenging conditions. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart over the center of the board, with your weight evenly distributed. With your body positioning, you want to keep your knees slightly bent to shock absorb any chop or waves and your back straight. In a strong current, you will want to bring your body weight forward to prevent the wind from blowing under the board’s nose and creating unwanted resistance. With wide, round-nosed boards, bringing the weight forward helps push the nose down on the water. Using the board and body positioning together will result in a more vigorous paddle stroke and keep you balanced and stable.

Get down on your knees

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In order to keep control of your board and move forward, get on your knees and paddle your board like a canoe. Make sure your hands are much lower on the paddle shaft and use your core to power through. With your knees, you will have much more control over the wind and choppy waters.

If the swells are hitting your board sideways, turn the nose of your board at least slightly into them so that you ride over them rather than being tipped over.

Lay down

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When going to your knees is not enough, and still, you can’t make progress against the wind, lay down on your board. Lay down your paddle in the middle of your board, curved part up. Lay down on your board and use your arms to move it forward (the paddle will be under your chest, holding it in place).

In really windy conditions, this position is excellent as it makes your surface area as small as possible. If you look at someone on a paddle board from the front, you will see them as the wind does. You and your board are virtually invisible from the front when you lay down. The wind has nothing to pull on!

Make sure you keep your legs down on the board. When you stick them up behind you, they become sails for the wind to pull on.

It is the most stable and safest position on your paddleboard. For this reason, lifeguards often use it when making a rescue in windy and choppy conditions.

Paddle Technique Is Key

You want to make sure that every paddle stroke counts when you’re battling the current so that you don’t lose ground or waste energy. Check that you are keeping your back straight, and as you dip your paddle in the water, the entire blade is submerged with the shaft remaining upright. Your stroke will be more effective. Your arms should remain straight as you stoke along the edge of your board, while your top shoulder and core should be engaged to pull you forward. The majority of your power will come from your core. Keep your legs bent and your core engaged while you bring your paddle out of the water to move into the next stroke. When paddling into the wind and current, the longer it takes to initiate the next stroke, the more speed you will lose. For this reason, shorter stroke lengths work best.


Safety always comes first. If you venture out in moving water or strong winds, make sure you handle the situation. Being properly prepared and having the right equipment is more important when navigating currents and winds.

Safety basics

  • Check the weather forecast before you go (but be cautious because the weather reports are often wrong)
  • Leash (Detachable if on a river)
  • Wear high-vis clothing
  • Life jacket
  • Helmet (if on a river)
  • Tell someone of your plans, and when you are back
  • Check tides and other local conditions
  • If alone, bring a phone

Keep your safety in mind at all times. With proper safety precautions, paddle boarding is not a dangerous hobby. It, however, can be hazardous and even fatal without much attention. As long as safety is taken care of, you can spend more time enjoying your paddle board adventures.

FAQs Related To How to paddle board against the current

1. Is it possible to paddle board upstream?
It is undoubtedly possible to paddle upstream in a kayak or canoe if you understand basic river flow and how to identify sections where the current is not so strong. Keep in mind that paddling upstream is always more challenging than paddling downstream.
2. Is it better to paddle board at high or low tide?
Paddle boarding at mid-tide is the least safe and worst tide state for beginners in most areas. At high or low tide, the water is slack, and the current is weak, whereas, at mid tide, the water moves at its fastest and most powerful.
3. How hard is it to paddle up the river?
Kayaking upstream can be challenging, but it can be done. In addition, you can improve your paddling technique and boost your upper body strength with this workout. Perhaps you wonder if there is a particular technique or a more efficient way to paddle upstream.
4. Are paddle boards attracted to sharks?
Without a doubt, yes. The sharks will go after more than just paddle boarders, either. Anyone in the ocean, including kayakers and swimmers, could become target.
5. Do alligators bother paddle boarders?
While alligators are big, mean-looking animals, they do not pose a statistical threat to paddleboarders.