Stand-up paddle boarding—or any paddling—isn’t rocket science! But as with any activity, there are tips and tricks that’ll make it a whole lot easier to get you started and having fun right out of the gate.
We’ve collected 23 top tips from across the SUP world to get you stand-up paddle boarding and enjoying this great sport:
1. Know how to swim
Even though you’ll be attached to your board by a leash, even though you’ll wear a life jacket—SUP is a water sport. Know how to swim and you’ll not only enjoy it more, you’ll be safer!
2. Practice on solid ground before you hit the water
The easiest way to learn the technique of standing up on a paddle board is to learn and practice on solid ground first. Then when your board is on the unstable surface of the water you’ll already be comfortable with the technique.
3. Find a good spot to launch
When you’re first starting out, make it easy on yourself by launching from a sandy, shallow beach on a calm day! Give yourself as many advantages as you can.
4. Start on your knees
It’s easier to get used to the feel of the board on the water with your center of balance low. Stay on your knees for awhile when you first push out. If you’re new to paddling in general, this’ll help you keep focused on one thing at a time.
5. Pop to your feet in one fluid motion
When you’re ready to stand up, remember what you practiced on solid ground. Stand up in one fluid motion, picking up your paddle as you go. As soon as you’re almost upright, plant your paddle in the water or in front of you on the board for extra stability and balance.
6. Keep a wide stance
Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
7. Know where to stand on the board
When you're learning, stand in the center of the board, straddling the handle.
8. Know how to hold the paddle
Place one hand on top of the paddle grip and the other down the shaft. The bent angle of the paddle’s “throat” should point toward you, so the face of the blade is forward.
9. Keep your paddling momentum going
Like riding a bicycle, SUP is easier once you’re moving. As soon as possible after you stand, get your paddle in the water and start moving.
10. Use a leash
When you fall, you want to be able to get back to your board quickly. Especially when it’s windy and choppy, or in a current, a leash is an important safety item.
11. Learn how to fall
When you’re learning to paddle board, plan to fall! Have that expectation so you can relax and take it as it comes. Practice falling away from the board to avoid injury and avoid damaging the board. Your paddle will float, but practice hanging on to your paddle when you fall so it doesn’t get away from you.
12. Practice climbing back on your board
Practice climbing back on your board so it becomes easy and you have more reason not to panic. Get to the center of the board, grab the handle with one hand and the far edge with the other. Kick your feet out behind you (not below you). Give yourself a good push, and pull with your arms to boost your chest up on the board. Swing around on your knees facing the front.
13. Use long, straight strokes—don’t “poke”
Don’t poke at the water with your paddle, but reach out in front of you, plant the blade in the water and pull back to your feet. Turn and pull with your core and upper body, not just your arms.
14. Look ahead, not down
Try to keep your eyes focused on the water and horizon ahead of you and not down at your feet and the board. It’ll help with your balance.
Relax your body, keep your legs and knees flexible to “ride” the water movement, and enjoy. Remember, this is fun!
16. Learn paddle strokes
If SUP is an activity you want to be good at, learn a few paddle strokes to help with steering, stopping, turning and bracing. It’s much easier to paddle for longer periods of time when you’re not switching sides every few strokes!
17. Learn and practice bracing techniques
Learn a couple simple bracing techniques with the paddle to help regain your balance when you feel tippy. You want to practice these, too, as you want them to become second nature to avoid an undesirable plunge.
18. Check the weather forecast before hitting the water
Like any outdoor activity, the weather can make or break your fun and even safety. Check the forecast before you head out for temperatures, wind speed and direction, and possible threatening storms.
19. Prepare for wind and waves
If the weather and water get to be more than you bargained for, you’ll be more stable if you drop to your knees to paddle back to shore.
20. Dress for the temperatures—air and water
Your body loses heat rapidly when you’re wet. That’s great news when the air is hot and the water is refreshing. But it can be dangerous with cold air temps and especially with cold water temps.
21. Wear your PFD
There are plenty of comfortable PFD options out there to choose from, even self-inflating ones that are very low-profile. It’s one thing in a small lake at the cabin on a beautiful day. But if you’re on big water, a river or the ocean, a PFD could save your life.
22. Take a lesson or two
All of these beginner’s tips can be nailed down in a lesson or two from an experienced friend of professional SUP instructor. It’s worth it!
Then practice, practice, practice. Get out in the water on a paddle board as often as you can. In no time at all you’ll feel comfortable and able to enjoy the beauty of the water and your surroundings.
Thanks to the following sources for their helpful content:
- David De Haan from Stand Up Paddleboards Revew
- The Hawaiian Paddlesports blog
- The Isle Surf & SUP blog
Let our friendly Customer Service team help you choose your new SUP paddle today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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