Paddle Length Guide for Beginners

Paddle Length Surf Ski

There has been a lot of discussion and many studies conducted to find the right paddle length for ski paddling.  I am not sure that there is a conclusive guide as it depends on the individual (e.g. height, weight, experience, strength etc).  Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines which I will share with you here.

There are two key approaches to determining the ideal paddle length for you.  The torso measurement method and the reach method.

Torso Method

The torso method uses the length of your torso to determine the length of paddle.  Here’s how it works.

Firstly, sit on the floor in an upright position with your legs out in front of you (as you would in your ski).  Then, measure the distance from the floor to the top of your head in centimetres (cm).

Once you have this measurement, find the closest torso length in the calculator below.  Once you select the closest torso length to yours a paddle length will be recommended.

Paddle Length Calculator

Reach Method

Stand barefoot on a flat surface and hold your paddle vertically by your side with one paddle resting on the floor.  Then reach your arm upwards (don’t stretch too hard) and fold your fingers over the paddle.  I am referring to the joint where your fingers meet the palm of your hand.   That is the paddle length.

Use Both Methods

I have used both methods to calculate the ideal paddle length for my situation.  Surprisingly the two methods produced a very similar result; i.e. a half centimeter difference.

Work Out What Works Best For You

Once you have some idea of your paddle length, you can test it on the water.

Time yourself using different paddle lengths over the same distance in similar conditions and see which performs best.  If you have a GPS watch, this will be easy.  If not, perhaps have someone take the times for you.

I hope you find this a useful guide to work out the best paddle length for you.