Defining Paddle Surfing – Creating a Lexicon

Erik Antonson
Erik Antonson
May 19, 2016

Lead in photo is a backside floater, paddle toe side, which matters because of balance in landing the maneauver…  What do we call it???

Morning folks!  No post yesterday.  I was traveling.  Back stateside visiting family.  I showed up to a nice surprise…  Tyler, head of FCS, sent over 3 sets of fins to test out.  Stoked to bring that to the blog, probably late next week.  He’s going to walk us through what we should expect from the different sets and why, then I’ll surf and test and report back.  We’ll also bring the conversation between Tyler and I to the blog via video or podcast.  I’d like to do video as the visual aid might aid in the discussion.

Also quite stoked to be added to the Pro Mix Nutrition team.  Al Matheny, the owner of pro mix, and I swam together way back in the day.  He’s a crazy talented entrepreneur, owns a boutique gym in NYC, trains celebrates, writes for Men’s Health and he likes what we’re doing with Padldewoo and wanted to be a part of it.  He’s one of my favourite dudes, so I’m stoked to work with him.  Outside of getting the hookup on protein, I’m stoked to bring the sport to a new demo.  Maybe we’ll get Al to help put together some workout plans for us in the future.

I took the opportunity yesterday, 2 flights, to study practice and training.  I’m taking on the progression journal as a challenge to explore skill acquisition in a more formal way.

Who knows where paddlewoo will lead, but my goal is to create a new skill set for the future…  podcasting, coaching, blogging, using something I love as the avenue.  Some of the best advice I received was when I was 23.  I decided to leave an incredible job after I was offered a big salary– I saw it for the trap it was…. more money, bigger purchases, locked in that treadmill life.  I saw my life flash before my eyes and wanted no part of that future.  So, I walked in the next day after the offer and turned in a letter of retirement.  Haven’t worked for anyone since.

But, on that day, I was terrified.  Ron, a VP, said something I’ll never forget.  I had done well, and earned the offer.  He said, “the skills that you’ve learned here won’t leave you when you walk out the door.  You own those.  And now you know you can do this again in the future.”

You’re the work in progress… not the current project.

I got way off on a tangent there, but it does come back.  I’m approaching paddle surfing as a challenge.  I’m looking at it as more than paddle surfing.  I want to learn to learn in a more efficient way and am going to use my current passion to that end.

Let’s create a resource and training guide that we can grow and learn from… It will make us all better surfers, and at the same time help the sport expedite its growth curve.  Which will make it a better, more accepted, sport faster.

In order to achieve this, we first need to create the practices that will expedite the learning curve, we first need to decide on best practices for each technique and maneauver.  Our sport is so new, that a majority of turns aren’t yet defined.  For us to be able to progress we need a lexicon.  We need to name the maneauvers we want to study and practice.

What separates paddle surfing from surfing is the paddle position and technique.  I think referencing the turn in surfing with a name for paddle variation is a good place to start.  Then, maybe we add a prefix for where the force is coming from???  Whether it’s a push or a pull.

Think backside cutback and frontside bottom turn.  Given the paddle is on the toe side, the turns are very similar.  That should be reflected in the name.  Or, frontside slingshot cutback and backside slingshot bottom turn.  I named those “slingshot” because the paddle anchoring is the same.  (I’m not married to slingshot, I got it from Apollo 13 where they slingshot around the moon, thought it fit)

I’m going to recruite you all to help in that process.  Please use the comments here to start the discussion on how we can create terminology for our sport so we can break it down and learn at a faster clip.

Tomorrow we’ll be back to paddling smaller boards, I didn’t forget about that!


Progression JournalUncategorized


  • Simon Dunton

    I usually just throw in “a paddle transfer” or “a cross bow” in when I’m trying to explain SUP surf moves.

    So a backside cutback could either be a “backside cutback” if my paddle was still on my toe edge or a “backside cutback with a paddle transfer” if I’d transferred the paddle over to my heel side to do the move… if i’d taken it that bit further and it was a roundhouse cutback it could be say a “roundhouse cutback with a paddle transfer” but usually you’d do the paddle transfer in order to finish that move as “cross bow roundhouse cutback” due to that final cross bow move you’d smash off the foam!… or “reverse kahi” if you wanna get real posh lol

    • Erik -- PaddleWoo

      Thanks for chiming in Simon. I love “reverse Kahi” No idea where that comes from, but it sounds good. I stay away from “bow” and “cross bow” I don’t think we need to give surfing any more ammunition to consider a paddle board a boat. In reality, we haven’t controlled the brand as a group and surfing, with it’s negativity towards the sport, has really shaped the discussion and terminology to this point.

  • Phil Gallo

    Erik – your knowledge , commitment and passion for the sport is unrivaled my friend. It’s good to see someone with your talent and drive furthering the sport…..ahhhh, but before we indentify maneuvers … about we name the sport? Is it Paddle Surfing? Standup Surfing? My fav SUP Surfing? The average person truly doesn’t understand that people actually surf on a paddle board….and the hardcore surfer doesn’t want to acknowledge the sport ….so it sure could help if we could indentify the sport for what it is…..surfing! Short board , long board , paddle board….its all surfing. Your site is an excellent forum….excellent…keep
    it up my good man!!! Great stuff!

    • Erik -- PaddleWoo

      Thanks Phil! I do agree with you there. All the guys hate the term SUP and I stay away from it as much as possible. Any inclusion for SEO purposes if I’m being honest. At this point I think paddle surf is the term. It is a paddle enhanced version of surfing.

      • Phil Gallo

        Paddle it is….SUP had just been wiped out of my memory bank! Carry on!

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