Learning to Stand-Up Paddle

There are many reasons why stand-up paddleboarding has been one of fastest growing outdoor recreation activities in recent years: it’s easy to learn and great exercise…

woman on stand-up paddleboard

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) brings you outside in nature. It can be enjoyed with friends, your kids or solo. It’s a great core workout, and can even be combined with other fitness activities like yoga.

The basic idea is to stand on a paddleboard, much like a surf board, and glide across the water using a long paddle to propel and steer.

Before we move into how to do this, here’s some simple advice for beginners from Aqua-Bound ProStaffer and SUPer, Karla Briones:

“You’re going to fall in the water—just accept it! The best thing you can do is practice falling off the board and then practice getting back on. That eliminates the fear and stress of falling and gets you used to being wet.”

Stand Up

Leave the waves and rapids for when you’ve got some experience. To begin with, find some calm water.

Climb on the board, kneeling in the center. Stretch the paddle across the board in front of your knees. Take a deep breath and relax. Place one foot on the board, then grab the paddle as you stand up.

Keep your core muscles engaged, your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Take another couple of deep breaths.

Relax and have fun! The more relaxed and fluid you are, the easier it is to move and sway with the water. Take Karla’s advice and practice falling off—away from your board—and climbing back on until it’s easy.

As the paddleboard planes (evens out on the water), you’ll feel it become more stable. If it’s more comfortable, feel free to take a few strokes while you’re still kneeling, then stand while the board is planing.

aqua-bound stand-up paddle

Let’s Get Moving—The Forward Stroke

Stay relaxed with your knees bent. This will keep your body from getting stiff and locked, allowing for better balance and more mobility. You’ll be able to move with your board.

Stretch your lower arm out, and use your top hand to guide the paddle. Place the blade in the water a comfortable distance in front of you, next to the board.

(You’ll notice paddleboard paddles have a bend where the blade meets the shaft. One of the most common mistakes is holding the paddle backwards! Be sure the angle of the bend is toward you, not away from you. This makes for less drag when you’re at the end of your stroke, lifting the paddle out of the water.)

Pull through the water, bending at the waist. Stop when the blade reaches your feet. Pull the blade out of the water and reach again.

That’s the basic forward stroke. When you feel comfortable tooling around with it, read this post on how to use the J-stroke. That’ll help you paddle in a straight line!

Take a Local Class

The best way to learn proper SUP technique is to take a class at a local park or through a local retailer. The class fee will include use of equipment, and the instructor will be able to give you hands-on training so you don’t start off with any bad habits.

If you find you love it, then you can look at investing in the gear you’ll need.

Do you have questions for our Wisconsin-based customer service team? Contact them today: [email protected] • 715-755-3405

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