Traditional paddle. A general rule of thumb for body positioning when you’re paddling is that you want to see your board flat on the water. You don’t want to be so far forward that you see water coming over the nose, and you don’t want to be too far back so that the nose is sticking straight up in the air. Have your chin about three-quarters of the way up on the board, but keep your head up so that you have total awareness of everything that’s going on around you.
When you paddle, make sure your body is perfectly aligned with the center of the board. Don’t keep both legs to one side of the board and don’t lay your legs out on either side of the board. Extend your legs and rest them directly over the tail. With each stroke, hit the water with your hands cupped and elbows bent while reaching all the way forward. Go elbow deep in the water and then follow through as you would if you were swimming freestyle. Take fluid, relaxed strokes. Minimize unnecessary body movements. Your arms should be the only things moving. If you move your hips too much, your board wobbles back and forth and creates drag.
There are other paddle options. If you’re on the verge of catching a wave, a butterfly stroke might be the extra push you need to get you over the hump. Use both arms and pull simultaneously with equal force as if you were doing a butterfly stroke. Or if you want to spin the board around quickly to catch the wave, sit up on your board, grab a rail and use a modified egg-beater kick to turn the board around. If your board’s long enough, knee-paddling also helps break up the monotony. As with the traditional paddle, center yourself so that the board is flat. Kneel so that your calves and feet are tucked under your butt, and pull simultaneously with both arms.