What surfdogg said about finding the board's trim sans rider...
Plus make sure your going deep on the entry paddle. Way past your elbows. Then make sure you follow the complete motion thru the water, all the way to your hips before you lift out of the water.
Most important, never windmill your arms, or let them go wide - wastes energy. Follow the side of your body with your hand up straight up along the board's rail past your ear, keep it tight, reach out, then repeat.
good tips...I had to reinvent my paddling after developing tremors on the left side of my body
1. always look down the line the direction you're going never forward, it will give you an idea of how hard you need to paddle. If you have time look both directions...
2. I use a technique that envoles a board wiggle that's done with hips, butt and arms...feel like you're fanning your fins. This will help you disengage them.
3. A little kick with your feet helps with out looking to spas.
Don't know about pulling that pud . . . er I mean paddle, all the way to your hip. Nick Carroll and other coaches I've read say it's wasted effort past your lower ribs, unlike swimming the biggest bang for your surf paddling buck is in the first half of the motion. And you can swing your arms a little wider on the lift as your rear delts tire out on the lift out. True that it's wasted motion when you're fresh.