For those now standing up on the paddleboard and getting the hang of the balance and motion involved in stand-up paddling, the J-stroke is a great addition!
The J-stroke propels the board in a forward motion without having to switch the paddle from one side of the board to the other to keep it straight. Nice, right?
The J-stroke takes practice, but is absolutely worth the extra effort. It’ll become a very fluid stroke once you have it down.
First, start like an ordinary stroke: Stretch your lower arm out and use your top hand to guide the paddle. Place the blade in the water a comfortable distance out in front, next to the board. Pull the blade through the water.
Now, as the blade reaches your side, this is where it changes. Instead of just pulling the blade out of the water, twist the face/front of the blade away from the board. Be strong with this twist so the water doesn't slap the blade into the side of the board. Pause for a second and repeat the stroke.
Why Use the J-Stroke?
The nose of your paddleboard won’t go in a perfectly straight line. The nose will point to the side opposite your stroke. The J at the end of your stroke realigns the nose toward the center.
Play around with the movement of the J-stroke to understand what’s happening and how the hook at the end balances out the force of the initial stroke.
A Couple Notes
This stroke is easier to initiate once you build momentum. Take a few regular strokes before trying the J-stroke.
Standing a little farther back on the board, rather than right in the center, also helps with this stroke.
Play around and find what works best for you. As with everything, practice makes perfect. But most important—enjoy! It's a really fun stroke, and once mastered, will be second nature.