How to hold paddle- Concave vs. Convex?

I am new to paddling… if you can’t tell by the question. I went out for the first time and was paddling w/ the concave side of the blade facing me. A couple of days later I went out w/ a friend and she told me to hold the paddle in the opposite direction, w/ the convex side of the blade facing me.

After trying both ways the second method, w/ the convex side facing me seemed easier and more efficient.

But then I went to pick up my new boat and the guy at the shop told me to hold the paddle w/ the concave side facing me… man- never new it was so controversial.

But one last note: a girl in the shop said that holding the paddle w/ the convex side facing a person while doing stand-up paddling… (on a surf paddle board).

What’s the concensus here?



concave side facing you
This isn’t really controversial at all, sorry. The more efficient way to paddle is the concave side facing you.

It might feel like the opposite is more efficient because the blade slips through the water easier. Unfortunately, you don’t want the blade to slip through the water. You want the blade to catch the water so you can ‘pull the kayak past the blade’.

Unless your friend has a very unique paddle she is using her paddle inefficiently.

To make sure we are on the same page - if the convex side is facing you the middle of the paddle blade will be closer than the ends of the blade. If the concave side is facing you the middle of the blade will be farther ways form you than the ends of the blade.

Good Question
That is not obvious to most new paddlers and I don’t think I have ever seen someone get it right unless they are lucky. There are actually 4 combination of ways to hold the paddle. Most have writing on the blades and you should be able to read the writing right-side up. If the writing is on both sides or if there is no writing, the person above is right on also.

Feathering positions are not obvious either. Bring your paddle upstares and put it in the correct position. Then get a sharpie marker and put a couple little reference marks on it until it is automatic.

Thanks for asking that.

*Someone will likely come back and say don’t pay attention to the writing. There are likely paddles that don’t agree with my advice but I have never seen any except the super high dollar ones.

Which side paddle to use
Thanks paddlemore…

I am heading out today and will focus on the differences. Thanks for the help.

Btw: The controversy I was writing of was only between what I was hearing, not one that I had researched a lot… :wink: thanks again.


what brand/model is it?
in addition to holding it concave side facing you, there is also another twist to correct paddle orientation.

If you look at the outside edge of the blade of the paddle, concave side facing you and blade perpendicular to the ground, you might notice that the blade is asymmetrical. You want the longer part of the of blade above the shorter part of the blade.

The paddle blades on this page are correctly oriented.