How To Paddle Board On Your Knees

*We may earn a commission for purchases made using our links. Please see our disclosure to learn more.

On many occasions, paddle boarding on your knees might actually be a good idea and not something you brush off. Beginners and pros alike have embraced the concept of paddle boarding on their knees for various reasons. However, there is so much to consider when determining if and why you might want to consider what is a common SUP practice.

In this article, we’re going to explore why you might paddle board on your knees, what are the pros and cons, and what are the best practices. There’s so much to get into in what is actually a rather fascinating aspect of paddle boarding.

So let’s not waste any more time.

Is Knee Paddling A Good Idea?

Knee Paddling

The only reason why knee paddling might be a bad idea is if it’s something your doctor has cautioned against doing. But, as a whole, SUP is a low-impact sport that provides more strengthening qualities than anything else.

Suppose you’ve recently suffered injuries to your knees. In that case, you might find use in SUP kneeling as it can help exercise the joints and help strengthen muscle over time. Of course, I’m not recommending this for severe injuries, but minor injuries will benefit.

Best Time for SUP Kneeling

There are times when paddling on your knees is actually better than paddling standing up. There are four occasions when this is evident.

1. During High Winds

When you’re standing on your paddle board, and the wind is howling around you, you inevitably act as a sail-like figure. What ends up happening is that you will cause your board to be less stable as you gently or furiously move in the wind.

When you kneel instead, you reduce your effect on the board’s movements and instead are able to paddle in relatively peaceful conditions regardless of vigorous winds surrounding you.

2. In Unexpected Weather Changes

Weather can change in an instance, and the water can go from friendly to not so friendly in mere moments. Even the more experienced paddle boarder will sink to their knees in an effort to lower their center of gravity, making it easier to navigate trickier conditions.

3. Big Waves

What do you do when the waves break or get bigger than maybe you’ll be able to handle standing up? Simple, you begin lowering yourself, and your center of gravity means you should be able to make it through unscathed and still on your board.

4. SUP Surfing

Depending on who you ask, you’ll find some surfers openly admit that knee paddling sometimes makes catching a wave easier. The theory behind this is that the added stability that paddling on your knees gives allows for more focused and vigorous paddling.

Once you manage to catch that wave, you can stand up and start surfing. There’s a bit of a debate on this aspect of the movement as some believe this process actually makes it harder when you include standing back up into the mix. Regardless, give it a go yourself and see how it works out for you.

From Standing To Kneeling

Going from a standing position to a kneeling position is much easier than you might think it is. Once you’re out on the water, where you want to be, slowly sit down on the board. Alternatively, you can attempt to gracefully lower yourself on your knees, but this can prove to be rather tricky.

Now that you’re in a sitting position bring your legs firmly together and get on your knees by pushing yourself up. Quickly work to solve any uncomfortableness you might feel before paddling. You will want to ensure you’re not too far forward or too far back. If you’re too far forward, you’ll have less glide efficiency, while too far back can affect your tracking/direction line.

When it comes to posture, you’ll want to keep your back straight; otherwise, you’re going to put all the pressure on your arms to paddle rather than using your core. This will only result in you getting tired far quicker than you’d like. You need to use your arms, shoulders, and your core as a unit in order to get the best results with every stroke.

If you’re looking for some great tips on how to conduct yourself while using your knees, be sure to check out this article for further guidance. This article is also good for advice for paddlers with bad knees.


SUP kneeling isn’t necessarily easy to just do on a whim. There are a few challenges associated with the practice. Here are some of the most common challenges.

1. Transitioning

It’s important to note that you’re not going to start off paddling on your knees. Instead, what will happen is, you’ll end up transitioning either way. So If you’re standing, you’ll transition to kneeling and vice versa. However, it can be far trickier to go from kneeling to standing up again.

When it comes time to transition back to a traditional standing position, you’ll need to pop up slowly and use your core strength to lift yourself.

2. Kneeling for Extended Periods of Time

Certain situations require a kneeling position, such as breaking waves. However, it shouldn’t be lost on you that you’ll feel tremendous pressure in your knees. In order to avoid situations where this is true, what you should attempt to do is flatten the tops of your feet behind you and lay them flat on the board. This will help to redistribute pressure from the knees to throughout your lower legs and feet.

These are just two examples of issues you might face when paddling on your knees. Depending on the condition of your knees and various other factors, these issues could be worse or non-existent. It depends on you and your muscle health.


There are a few scenarios in which knee paddling is advantageous as a safety measure. The three scenarios are in situations of self-rescue, in shallow waters, or near hazards.

When it comes to self-rescue, what that means is in times when you’re tired, injured, or anything along these lines, paddling on your knees makes the most sense. Not only are you conserving some energy and giving the muscles a rest, but you’re also still paddling.

When you’re in water that’s extremely shallow, you can paddle on your knees to protect against potential injuries. Finally, when you’re approaching hazards, staying on your knees gives you a greater sense of stability, decreasing the chances you fall and cause any self-inflicted injuries. Even so, its not a guarantee you won’t fall, so

Using Your Paddle

The biggest question people have when it comes to knee paddling is, ‘how the hell do I actually paddle?’ It’s a fair question and one that has a simplistic answer.

For starters, you need to adjust the length of your paddle. Considering the height difference you’re creating from when you initially set up your paddle, it’s time to adjust to a new height while on your knees. This is only necessary you’re going to paddle for more than a few strokes.

When you’re paddling on your knees, your strokes will be shorter and not nearly as powerful as they are when you stand and paddle. It might take some getting used to, but once you’re used to it, you’ll be golden.

Secondly, you’re going to want to find some leverage in your hand positioning. In order to locate the best leverage, you’re going to want to place your hands at the extreme ends of your paddle. Try close together, far apart, and look for the comfortable middle point, making paddling more comfortable for you and more efficient overall.

Never take your body for granted. If it’s not working, your body is going to tell you that this method you’re trying, ain’t it.

Final Thoughts

It might be easy to consider techniques discussed in this article as an inferior style of paddle boarding. Still, you’d be foolish to buy into this narrative. Its is nothing more than a tool to use when needed. It can be incredibly useful in stressful situations and is something you need to embrace, not shy away from for whatever reason.

So start practicing and learning how to master the act of paddle boarding on your knees. This is a good tool to have in their paddler’s toolbox. After you master this technique, check out some of the other learning guides. Stay safe out on the water whether you’re standing up, kneeling or sitting down!


Paddleboarding has been one of the few activities that's allowed me to take a mental break from life and just be in the moment. Whether you're looking for an outlet, a method for physical fitness, or even just a way to meet new people, paddle boarding can put you on a path to achieving all these goals. Every article I post on this site is made with the intention to spread sup love and get more people to stand up and paddle!

More to Explore

What Muscles Does Paddle Boarding Workout?

I’ve often mentioned what a great workout paddle boarding is, but what muscles does paddle boarding actually workout? I’m going to break it all down, so you know ...