How To Perform A Stern Rudder Stroke On A Paddleboard

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Paddleboarding has surged in popularity over the past decade, attracting water enthusiasts seeking tranquility, fitness, and a unique connection with nature. Whether you’re gliding through calm lakes or challenging the waves of the ocean, honing your paddleboarding skills is essential to maximize your enjoyment and navigate with finesse. Among the myriad techniques to master, the stern rudder stroke stands out as a pivotal maneuver that can greatly enhance your control and maneuverability on the board.

The stern rudder stroke is a fundamental paddleboarding technique that allows you to make precise turns and navigate tight spaces with ease. It involves using the paddle at the back of the board to create a rudder-like effect, influencing the direction of your board by exerting pressure on the water behind you. By effectively executing the stern rudder stroke, you can become a master of steering, opening up a world of possibilities for exploration, surfing, and even racing on your paddleboard.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of performing a perfect stern rudder stroke. We will break down the technique step by step, offering valuable tips and insights to help you refine your skills on the water. Whether you’re a novice paddleboarder looking to expand your repertoire or an experienced paddler aiming to fine-tune your technique, this article will serve as your go-to resource for mastering the art of the stern rudder stroke.


What is a stern rudder stroke?

Before diving into the technique, it’s essential to understand what a stern rudder stroke is. The stern rudder stroke is a paddleboarding maneuver used to change the direction of the board while maintaining stability. It involves using the paddle as a rudder to steer the tail of the board, causing it to pivot around a central point.


Why is the stern rudder stroke important?

The stern rudder stroke is a fundamental skill for paddleboarders, offering several key benefits. Firstly, it allows you to navigate tight spaces and make sharp turns, especially in confined or crowded areas. Secondly, it provides increased control and stability, enabling you to maintain balance even in challenging conditions such as wind or waves. Lastly, mastering the stern rudder stroke enhances your overall paddling technique, making you a more efficient and confident paddler.


Body position and stance

To execute a successful stern rudder stroke, proper body position and stance are crucial. Start by ensuring a stable and balanced stance on the board. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, with your knees slightly bent and your weight evenly distributed. Keep your core engaged for stability throughout the stroke.


Correct paddle placement

The placement of your paddle plays a vital role in executing an effective stern rudder stroke. Hold the paddle with a relaxed grip, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart. Submerge the blade of the paddle fully in the water, closer to the tail of the board. Maintain a slightly forward-leaning angle with your top hand, positioning it higher than the bottom hand. This ensures maximum power and control during the stroke.


Executing the stern rudder stroke

Now that you have the correct body position and paddle placement, it’s time to execute the stern rudder stroke. Begin by engaging your core muscles and looking towards the direction you want to turn. Place the blade of the paddle fully in the water, angled away from the board’s tail. Apply pressure with your top hand while keeping the bottom hand relatively still. This motion will create a sweeping arc, turning the board in the desired direction. Maintain a smooth and steady stroke, focusing on maintaining balance and stability throughout.


Refining your stern rudder stroke

Like any skill, mastering the stern rudder stroke takes practice. Here are a few tips to refine your technique:

  • Start with slow, controlled strokes and gradually increase your speed and power.
  • Experiment with different paddle angles to find the most efficient and comfortable position for you.
  • Practice in various conditions, such as calm water, choppy waves, or crosswinds, to improve your adaptability.
  • Seek guidance from experienced paddleboarders or consider taking lessons to receive personalized feedback and further refine your skills.



The stern rudder stroke is an essential technique for paddleboarders of all skill levels. By mastering this maneuver, you’ll gain greater control, stability, and confidence on the water. Remember to focus on maintaining a proper body position, paddle placement, and executing a smooth stroke. With practice and perseverance, you’ll soon navigate through tight spaces and turn with ease. So, grab your paddleboard, head out to the water, and embark on your journey to becoming a skilled paddleboarder capable of effortlessly performing the stern rudder stroke.

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

"I live and breath boardriding"

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