In all fairness, standup paddle boarding looks much harder than it actually is. While there are many things I wish I knew when first using SUP, I gathered a list of 12 useful paddle boarding tips that will make your first trip easier and more enjoyable than most beginners.
Where To Set The Board In The Water
So your inflatable paddle board is all pumped up, unless you have a hard board, you walk up to shore, put your board in the water, get on top, and you’re not going anywhere because your fin is stuck in the ground. While this mistake might seem obvious, it happens more frequently than not to newbies. So before you break the fin to your new SUP, put the board further out into the water before climbing on.
When You Get On, Start With Your Knees
Depending on where you load in, you might want to get a pair of water shoes to protect your feet from a rocky river. But once you climb onto the board, start with your knees, straighten forward, and center yourself within the board. Most SUPs have a handle that marks the center.
How To Standup & Where On The Board
While you’re in a pushup position centered on the board, lay your paddle flat horizontally in front of you, and use your arms to bring one leg up centered near the handle, and the next leg perpendicular. Make sure you’re using your arms to keep yourself and the board balanced in the process of standing.
When standing, make sure both of your feet are facing forward. Also, many people think that it’s easier to stand up while moving so row a couple of times on your knees than begin standing.
Don’t Stand Sideways Like Surfboard
The very first thing I did once I got my paddle board in the water, is stand on it like a surfboard. What I should’ve done was try to find an article like this to know how not to stand on a paddleboard.
Unless you’re surfing waves with a lot of forward-momentum, keeping balanced while standing sideways was annoyingly difficult and made my first trip more stressful than enjoyable. It took until my 2nd trip to find out the magical secret of standing forward, and it was drastically easier.
Which Way Does Paddle Face?
Here is yet another tip I wish I knew beforehand. I actually didn’t find this out until after our first SUP travel video. But have your paddle faced away from you where the paddle slant is curved towards the front of your SUP board.
Since finding this out, my speed improved, ease of paddling improved, maneuverability improved, and the tracking drastically improved. Tracking means the ability to keep the board straight while paddling.
Hold Paddle Wide Grip
Another quick tip, hold the paddle with a wide, not narrow grip. It might feel awkward at first, but trust me, your paddling will improve and it will help you to naturally engage your core more, which saves your arms.
Other Paddling Tips For Beginners
Other than the wide grip, try to hold the paddle vertically and pull it close to the board for more efficiency and straighter tracking. Also, dig the paddle deep rather than using just the tip. Lastly, perform an extended row. Many beginners start the paddle near their feet which isn’t efficient at all.
Look Forward For Better Balance
Next tip, once you’re standing look forward. Contrary to what you might originally think, looking forward actually helps with balance whereas looking down, the board hurts your balance. After a bit of practice, you’ll likely be able to look where ever you want without balance issues.
Taller You Are, the Larger The Board Should Be
So this tip is suitable if you didn’t pick out your board yet. But a general rule of thumb, the larger or taller you are, the larger the board you’ll need. But if you’re a whopping 5’4″ like me you can get whatever you want.
How To Properly Fall
If you find yourself losing balance, just purposely fall into the water. Don’t try to catch yourself or fall on the board. Falling on the board hurts. Fall into the water, it’s fun and doesn’t hurt.
Start Off In Calm Water
There are so many incredible places to paddle, but if you’re new, start off in calm water. It wouldn’t be long till you naturally develop muscle memory and balance that’ll free you to paddle where you please.
Keep in mind, that many SUP areas have boats. If a boat comes by, simply drop on your knees till they pass. It’s also best to keep the board facing directly towards the waves. The most dangerous location to be when boat waves come is when you’re about to leave or enter shore. So be sure to look for boat wake in those scenarios.
Beginners Consider Wearing A Life Jacket & Ankle Leash
And lastly, a lot of you don’t want to hear this, but I recommend a coast guard certified life jacket and an ankle leash if the SUP comes with it when starting. Along with that, it might also be wise to bring a fellow paddleboarder or even a kayaker to come along.
Summary | Paddle Boarding Tips For Begginers
So those are the 12 tips I gathered for SUP beginners. I hope some of this helped and thank you so much for reading. But what if you’re on a long SUP trip and run out of water? See why I bring the LifeStraw water filter.
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