I've been paddling for a little over a year and still find I have plenty to learn. When I watched the videos linked in this thread I notice that as the paddle nears the end of the stroke it starts to rotate to the point where the blade is almost parallel to the center line of the board. I have noticed this on paddlers I see when I'm out but it was much more noticeable in the video. I'm not sure I understand the benefit of that rotation - can somebody help me out here? Of course if there is a benefit, then I'll have to figure out how to train my muscles to do that (some days they resist learning new things!)
Things to remember as you paddle:
1.) As you paddle on you right side, your left hand should be in front of your right shoulder (and vise versa when you paddle on the left side). This may feel awkward at first, but it's essential to keeping you paddle shaft vertical. This intern keeps you on a straighter path. You don't want to paddle with the top hand over the middle or worse opposite side of the board. That is how you turn. People who are just learning zig zag a lot because their paddle shaft is not vertical.
2.) The direction your paddle goes should not be only back. More importantly it should be down. So as you paddle your paddle blade should follow downward path. It should be deep by the time it lines up with your feet. At which time you cease applying power to it. Your body should be bent forward at this point as well.
3.) Your paddle should remain perpendicular to the length of the board the entire time it's in the water.
I don't know if there is anything about paddling that feels natural to me, and I've been paddling a long time. Learning to paddle is a never ending process.