If you’ve passed by the ocean or river recently the odds are that you’ve seen a paddle boarder out there and probably wondered just how easy it is to do. Maybe you’ve tried paddle boarding without any instruction and spent most of your time in the water. If you want to learn how to stand up on a paddle board and stay up, there is no better way than to just get out there and practise. Paddle boarding is a great activity with many benefits, and once you’re up and running you will reap the many rewards. In this article we are going to give you some simple tips to help you get started and keep you motivated. We have compiled some of the best instructional videos to assist you too.
The truth is that the popularity of stand-up paddle boards (SUPs) has exploded within the last decade. You can enjoy paddleboarding on lakes, rivers, ocean surf and even anglers now use them to fish from.
You have to get the right board for you initially, in terms of size and type but once you have that your next step is to get practising. There is no doubt that you are going to fall off many times but with the right tips from this article you can minimise this and before you know it you’ll be a paddle boarding addict like the rest of us. Hell, you might even use your SUP for yoga, and before you laugh – if you haven’t tried that, you should, if you’re into that sort of thing, it’s a lovely experience.
Anyway, without further a do, let’s get into the tips.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding For Beginners
With your paddle board and paddle on hand, it is time to get out on the water and enjoy this new activity. Place the paddle board on the water and strap on the leash. Here we go
Don your PFD making sure that the fit is right, not so loose that it slips off your frame, but loose enough that you can comfortably turn side to side and lift your arms. Take a look at our buoyancy aid review for further information and advice on this. Now walk your paddle board out so that the fin is not scraping the shore or sand beneath you.
Place the paddle length-wise on the board. Now mount your board. Most people usually assume the typical surfer pose and lie flat on their stomach. While this may be good to begin with, it is not recommended as it pins the paddle beneath your body making it difficult to manoeuvre. Best practice is to get on your knees as soon as possible.
To avoid tipping over or loading one side of the board too much, your knees should straddle the middle of the board. Locating the middle of the board is fairly easy as it is marked with a carrying handle. While on your knees, grab the paddle handle in your dominant hand and hold it perpendicular to the board, making a large T. Then move your knees back and away from the middle, about 6-inches.
The reason for this is that when you stand your feet will be taking the place of your knees on the board. Raise one knee and put your foot on the board. Take one stroke with your paddle. A paddle board is most stable when in movement, and the resistance afforded by the water’s surface actually helps stabilize the board. Next while holding the paddle, put both hands on the board in front of you so that you can lift your other knee and put your second foot on the board.
Once you get both feet firmly on the board and your body is once again erect, it is imperative that you start paddling immediately. Remember that a paddle board in motion is a stable paddle board. You don’t have to paddle like mad mind you. Smooth, long and calm strokes are best. Propelling yourself is fairly easy. You have taken a couple of strokes by this point already. But efficient paddling is a good habit to pick up early. Your arms and shoulders will thank you later.
A typical stroke will begin with your paddle handle hand originating from just above shoulder height. The stroke will take the handle on a diagonal route from just above shoulder height to your hip. Focus on not slapping or chopping the water and avoid scraping the side of your board. The typical rhythm is two strokes on one side and then switching hands before performing two strokes on the other side. Of course, this is assuming that there is little to no current or wind. Depending on a couple of factors you may have to adjust your paddling rhythm to reach your destination.
How To Paddle Your SUP While Kneeling
As a beginner learning to paddleboard, kneeling is the easiest starting point when learning to use the paddle. Here Sam gives some good tips on hand and paddle position as well as how to turn easily with little effort.
How To Go From Kneeling To Standing On A Paddle Board
This is another great video from Sam giving great narration over some beautiful footage. Here we get some great tips on maintaining balance while moving into a standing position on your SUP.
How To Stand Up Paddle Without Falling Off
Ok so you’re getting a bit more confident and you’ve practised the prone position and you’re comfortable paddling your SUP in a kneeling position. Now for the trickier part. Paddling your SUP in a standing position is after all what the sport is all about! So it’s time to give it a go. Watch the video below for good technique on stand up paddling.
Common Beginner SUP Mistakes
This is a good video aimed at absolute beginners who jump on a board with no idea of what to do. They’ve either watched other people and repeated the same errors or they’ve just decided to give it a go with no prior research. That’s all fine because it’s all about having fun, but if you want to avoid frustration and get paddling in the shortest time, it’s good to get an idea of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Stroke Techniques For Paddle Boarders
The first method of turning is the powerstroke. Generally characterized as a “slightly stronger and faster stroke” than your typical stroke, this will gradually turn the nose of your paddle board to a new heading. A powerstroke on the left will turn the nose of the board to the right and vice versa. The second turning method is known as the paddle drag. By dipping and not moving your paddle on one side of your board you are able to execute a sharper turn on your paddle board.
The downside with this method is that it adds water resistance and will decrease your speed. Depending on the situation, you may prefer one method over the other. If you’re on open water and are in no rush to make a turn then a powerstroke turn would be the way to go. If you’re by the shore and need to hit a specific spot or angle then a paddle drag will be your preferred turn. However, it would be a good idea to master the use of both turns in combination.
Using a paddle drag followed by a powerstroke will generate a sharp turn without losing too much speed. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make permanent. So your goal should be to practice paddle boarding often. Not only will it make you a better stand up paddle boarder but it’s just downright fun.
It’s good to have correct technique when it comes to paddling. Beginners often thing that paddling technique is not important and concentrate on other things. However, if you handle the paddle correctly the benefits are enormous and take your SUP experience to a whole new level. The following video gives solid advice on basic SUP paddle techniques.
Common Mistakes By More Advanced Paddle Boarders
If you’ve tried paddle boarding and you can stand and manoeuvre quite well, you may still be making some simple errors. This video addresses some of these, such as when to paddle and when not to. Using the paddle effectively to help balance. Using the wrong type of board etc. This is aimed at paddling downwind and there’s a bit of wind noise but it’s good advice.
Balance Tips To Stay On Your Paddle Board
Most beginners struggle with balance when they first hop on a SUP. This short 5 minute video offers good tips on paddle board balance and staying stood up in the correct position on the board.
How To Get Back On Your Paddle Board When You Fall Off
One thing is guaranteed when learning to SUP is that you’re going to fall off. When you’re first starting out as a beginner, one of the hardest things for some is to get back on the paddleboard if your in deeper water and your feet can’t touch the bottom. The following video gives some tips on the easiest way to get back on your board.
How To Get Started Surfing On A SUP
Most paddle boarders progress onto surfing with their SUP once they’ve got decent balance and a good amount of confidence. The following video offers some valuable tips on how to catch your first small waves and having fun safely in the surf.
How To Get Up And Over A Wave On A SUP
If you’re going to start surfing with your SUP, the following guide is going to be useful. Sometimes, especially if the surf is a bit choppy it can be a challenge to get yourself out into the water past initial waves. The following video offers great insight with narration over action footage of how to get your paddle board up and over waves using various techniques.
4 Golden Rules For Surfing On A SUP
The following video offers four great rules that we should all stick to when out on our paddleboard.
We hope you enjoyed this guide and it helps you to at least minimise the amount of times that you fall in the water, just remember that practise makes perfect, don’t give up on it as you will definitely get better if you persist, you’ll be an expert in no time.
Enjoy and stay safe.