The Science of SUP Paddle Length: How to Find the Perfect Paddle for Your Stand-Up Paddleboarding Adventures

If you've ever dipped your toes into the world of Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP), you'll know that your paddle is a critical component. It's your means of propulsion and your primary connection to the water. But did you know the length of your SUP paddle can significantly impact your performance and enjoyment on the water?

This post will delve deeper into the science of SUP paddle length, offering insights on how to determine the perfect paddle size for different body types and skill levels. Keep reading to uncover how you can unlock a more effective, efficient, and enjoyable SUP experience with the right paddle length.

SUP Paddle Length guide by RSPro

What Influences SUP Paddle Length?

The "perfect" SUP paddle length varies based on a multitude of factors, including your height, the type of board you use, and your paddling style. Understanding these variables is key to making an informed choice when it comes to selecting your SUP paddle length. Let's break it down.

Your Height

One of the most straightforward factors affecting SUP paddle length is the paddler's height. Taller paddlers typically require longer paddles, while shorter paddlers do well with shorter paddles. But why? Well, the height determines the reach of the paddler, which directly impacts how effectively and comfortably they can paddle. 

Type of Board

The type of board you use also influences the ideal SUP paddle length. For instance, if you use an iSUP (inflatable stand-up paddle board) don’t do it and get a proper board, Just kidding ... or not ;-), which tends to be thicker and have a larger volume, you'll benefit from a longer paddle. This helps maintain a relaxed stance and a lower stroke cadence. On the other hand, if you're using a dugout board or a low-volume surf SUP, a shorter paddle might be more appropriate.

When you’re on a thick, large volume board, your feet are higher relative to the water surface. You’re farther to the water, so you need a longer paddle. When you’re on a dugout race board or on a low-volume SUP surf board, your feet are closer to the water surface. You’re closer to the water, so you need a shorter paddle. 

Benoit Carpentier SUP surfing with a shorter paddle

Paddling Style and Discipline

Your paddling style and the discipline you engage in further shape your choice of SUP paddle length. Recreational paddlers often prefer a slightly longer paddle for a more relaxed and more upright experience, while high-level racers tend to go for shorter paddles, which are conducive to a more aggressive stance (lower) and faster stroke cadence. Same happens in SUP surfing. You need shorter paddles for a lower stance and easier paddle swap from side to side. 

Remember: The shorter the paddle the higher your cadence. The lower your stance, the shorter the paddle.

SUP racer on a low stance

How Do You Determine the Ideal SUP Paddle Length?

Choosing the perfect SUP paddle length requires a practical, hands-on approach. You may want to consider the following steps:

  1. Measure your height: A general rule of thumb suggests your SUP paddle should be about 6-12 inches taller than you. However, remember this varies depending on your specific circumstances.
  2. Consider your board type and paddling discipline: Reflect on the type of board you have and your preferred paddling style. This will guide you towards a longer or shorter paddle.
  3. Try out different lengths: It's often beneficial to experiment with various paddle lengths to find what feels most comfortable and efficient for you.
  4. Adapt over time: Your perfect SUP paddle length may change as your skills evolve, and it's crucial to stay adaptable. If you feel like your current paddle length is causing issues like shoulder pain or a loss of stability, it might be time to adjust. 

How Does RSPro Help You Choose the Right SUP Paddle Length?

Understanding the significance of SUP paddle length is only half the battle; applying this knowledge to make an informed buying decision is where RSPro steps in. 

RSPro has a wealth of information to support your SUP journey, including our comprehensive and widely appreciated guide, The Definitive Guide to Choose Your SUP Paddle Length. This guide dives deeper into the intricacies of SUP paddle length selection and serves as a valuable resource for both beginners and experienced paddlers.

Alongside such educational resources, RSPro offers a variety of SUP accessories for SUP Surfing or SUP Racing or Touring. Our collection spans from grip and traction pads to paddle guards and paddle grips, ensuring that you have everything you need for a superior SUP experience. 

By combining our insightful guides with our high-performing product line, RSPro ensures you're well-equipped to make the best SUP paddle length decision for your paddleboarding adventures. 

Remember, the key to an exceptional SUP experience lies not only in understanding the science behind it but also in having the right gear tailored to your needs - and RSPro is here to provide just that.

SUP girl surfing a race sup board


How do I know if my SUP paddle is too long?

If your SUP paddle is too long, you might experience shoulder pain, awkwardness when paddling, difficulty swapping paddles, or overextension during the power phase of your stroke.

What if my SUP paddle is too short?

If your paddle is too short, you may notice lower back pain, loss of power on strokes, the blade not being fully submerged during stroke, or a loss of stability. 

Can I adjust my SUP paddle length over time?

Absolutely! As you gain more experience or switch between different SUP disciplines, your ideal paddle length may change. It's always a good idea to reevaluate your paddle length from time to time.


Understanding the science of SUP paddle length can greatly enhance your stand-up paddleboarding experience. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all solution here – what works for you depends on your unique circumstances. Always be open to experimenting and adjusting your paddle length for a better, more comfortable SUP experience. Happy paddling!

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