Everyone has been talking fin selection, blade size for your paddle, paddle length, board shape, cadence and the like. I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t learn a little more about how to get faster while paddling. Granted, it has more to do with the athlete and the level of training than the gear one chooses. I’m sure Anabell Anderson could paddle a picnic table and still lead me. That doesn’t stop us all from trying! So, how much faster does each of these items really make us? 

It depends. Fin and paddle selection may keep your speed percentage gains in the single digits and cadence on the higher end of the single digits. A new race board, however, is probably the biggest increase in speed you’ll be able to buy, yielding reported increases in speed of 10-20%. WOW! Granted, if you usually paddle 4mph, a 10-20% increase means you’re going 4.4-4.8mph.


That’s a lot of money for not even getting an entire mile per hour faster! Bah, Humbug! (Maybe I’m just jealous I can’t get a new Bark Phantom like Katie) I guess there is no substitute for hard work and deliberate training. Or is there?

I’m a glutton for short cuts! What if I told you that you could get up to 15% faster without buying any expensive SUP equipment? No, I’m NOT selling drugs! I’m talking about MUSIC!

In the book “Inside Sport Psychology” Karageorghis and Terry explore the ability of music to enhance an athlete’s performance. Although, many professional athletes don’t require music and are capable of finding their own inward motivation, other people thrive when subjected to outward stimuli. Some people carry photos of loved ones, other listen for the cheering of the crowd, and some just shove headphones in their ears.

I, for one, can attest to the ability of music to keep me going strong in the face of adversity. During the 2012 Holland 11-Cities Tour we had to paddle 137 miles over the course of 5 days, which doesn’t seem like much if you’ve been training and preparing for it. However, I found it extremely challenging, and needed something to keep me moving for 5 days at a good pace. It’s easy to slow down when you’ve lost sight of the pack, but the beat of the music can keep you on cadence and put a smile on your face. Here are a few of the tunes I jam to for motivation and cadence:

Song List

“All I do is Win” DJ Khaled

“Bring ‘Em Out” T.I.

“Burn it Down” AWOLNATION

“Don’t Stop till you Get Enough” Michael Jackson

“International Love” Chris Brown

“Hey Ya” OutKast

“Till I Collapse” Eminem

“Get Low” Lil’ John and the Eastside Boys

“Bongo Bong” Manu Chao

“The Fight Song” Marilyn Manson


Hard times call for hard music. Individual tastes may vary, but some general rules apply for all. Avoid any song where it slows down, it WILL slow you down. Avoid songs that imply losing (i.e. “Nice Guys Finish Last” by Greenday). Select songs that are suitable for a club remix; don’t knock it till you try it! Rap music is notorious for conceited and pompous lyrics; use this to your advantage.


What songs do you listen to before a race to get pumped?
What do you listen to during a race? Do you listen to music at all?

Can you tell a difference between races where you used music and races where you didn’t? 

Get faster: fins, boards, paddles… music?