Grab your stand-up paddle board and head out onto the water. When you’re cruising across the water, you’ll need to make a few turns. How you turn will depend on your skill level, type of board and environment. Our handy guide will explain the three main types of turns to help you improve your stand-up paddle board techniques.
The Classic Turn (Beginners)

Most beginners, on inflatable stand-up paddle boards, will use the classic turn to navigate the waters. The classic turn is one of the easiest ways to turn as you simply have to put your paddle on the opposite side of the board. For instance, if you want to turn right, you paddle on the left and vice versa.

  • Before you make the turn, make sure you have both feet in the middle of your board. You’ll want one foot to be slightly in front of the other as this will help to keep the board stable as you turn.
  • Put the paddle onto the opposite side from the direction you want to turn and begin paddling using the same stand-up paddle board paddle technique you use when moving in a straight line.
  • Keep paddling on this side till your board has completed the turn
  • Once your board has changed direction, begin paddling on the other side and alternate strokes to move forwards
Top Tips for Classic Turn

  • Making short and semi circular strokes towards the back of your board will help you to turn faster
  • Give yourself plenty of space as the turning circle is relatively large
  • Stand-up paddle boarders on long touring boards should NOT use this stand-up paddle board stroke technique as it’ll take too long to rotate -- back paddling will work much better.
The Back Paddle (Intermediate)

Once you’ve mastered the classic turn, you can progress your stand-up paddle board techniques by learning to back paddle. The back paddle is more efficient and allows you to turn quicker. We also recommend that stand-up paddle boarders on long touring boards use this technique, over the classic turn, as it’s better suited for their board.

  1. Start by paddling on the same side as you want to turn.
  2. Rather than paddling forwards pull your paddle backwards (i.e. start at your feet and push your paddle towards the front of your board).
  3. Once your board has turned 90 degrees, start paddling on the other side of your board using a sideways stroke (hands kept in the same position as back paddling, but on the same side of your board as you’re turning). This will allow you to exit the turn with some speed.
Top Tip for Back Paddle Turns

  • Approach this turn with some speed for best results
  • Recommended for long touring boards and intermediate stand-up paddle boarders
The Pivot Turn (Advanced)

More advanced stand-up paddle boarders may want to use the pivot turn to show off their stand-up paddle board racing techniques. A pivot turn allows you to make quick and efficient turns -- particularly useful for navigating around obstacles on a stand-up paddle racing course.

  1. Pick a spot where you want to turn and fix your eyes onto this stop
  2. As you approach, stop paddling to allow your board to glide in
  3. Adapt a surfboard stance with your dominant foot in front. To move into this position quickly, place your back foot over the fin and then rotate your front foot so that it’s side on (like in warrior two).
  4. Start paddling on the opposite side that you want to turn (as with the classic turn paddling technique) and step hard onto your back foot so that the front of your board rises from the water.
  5. Continue to paddle with short, quick strokes
  6. The board should move around quickly with each stroke moving the nose around
  7. To exit the turn, move your feet back into the standard position and begin paddling on alternate sides
Top Tips for Pivot Turns

  • Pivot turns are very unstable, so you need to focus on your balance.
  • With a pivot turn, you need to get the front of your board as high out of the water as possible. To achieve this, place your weight as far back as possible. Your back foot is the weight, while your front foot is only for balance.
  • Make sure to put your weight on your back foot before turning.