group of people practicing stand up paddle

How to Stand Up Paddle Board? Tips & Tricks for Beginners

Stand-up paddle boarding is a fantastic way to enjoy the water while also getting a great workout. While this activity may appear simple at first, there is actually a lot of information to consider once you're out on the water. From proper body positioning to important safety measures, there are a number of key factors to keep in mind in order to make the most of your experience. Read on for a step-by-step guide to mastering the art of stand-up paddle boarding.

If stand-up paddle boarding is a new activity for you, it's recommended that you choose a longer, wider, and thicker board to ensure better stability. SUP is a fun activity for all skill levels, but there are still some tips to keep in mind when gearing up pr buying new gear.

There are different types of paddle boards available: the epoxy board, made from fibreglass, is hard and rigid, while the inflatable paddle board offers a bit more flexibility and is easy to transport and store. The latter paddle board is an excellent option for travel and for practicing on bodies of water that are less accessible. Additionally, the paddle board can be stored in its own compact bag, making it an ideal solution for optimizing your storage space!

The choice ultimately depends on your preferences and needs. All that's left to do is grab your paddle board and put the proper techniques into practice to stand up (and stay up!) on your paddle board.

What is the paddle board and how does it work?

The stand-up paddle board, also known as a Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP), is a floating board that allows an individual to move on water by using a paddle to propel themselves forward. It is commonly used for navigating calm bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, or oceans.

Compared to a traditional surfboard, the paddle board is typically longer, wider, and thicker, which makes it easier to float and provides greater stability for the paddler. There are various types of paddle boards available, including inflatable and rigid boards.

Safety first

A few safety tips to remember before you head out:

○ Bring a personal flotation device (PFD) and consider bringing a whistle as well.
○ Always wear a leash. Strap it to your ankle or lower leg, so your board won’t float away from you if you fall off.
○ Be aware of safety hazards in the water. Look out for rocks or shallow reefs that could be harmful if you fall off your board.
○ Start facing the wind. You don’t want to paddle out too far with the wind behind you, and then discover it is too difficult to paddle back when you’re going against the wind.
○ As a beginner, always go with a friend, or make sure there are lifeguards nearby.

woman with uv shirt ready to stand up paddle

What is the best equipment for the stand up paddle board ?

○ Attach the safety cord to your ankle or lower leg.
○ Make sure to hold the paddle correctly: one hand on the handle and the other near the center of the shaft. To confirm that your position is correct, hold the paddle horizontally above your head; your two arms should form a 90-degree angle.
○ Dress according to the water temperature, not the air temperature. There's a high chance that you might end up in the water. Wear a wetsuit if the water is cold!
○ Don't forget sunscreen and/or a hat. A good pair of sunglasses and a UV-protected top will protect you from the sun's reflection on the water.

To start

○ Enter the water until the surface reaches knee level so that your fin doesn't touch the ground.
○ Get on your paddle board at the center, on your knees.
○ Find your balance and paddle a few sweep strokes while remaining on your knees.

How to stand up on a paddle board?

○ When you're ready to stand up, place your hands on the board in front of you.
○ Slowly move one foot at a time and place it exactly where your knee was.
○ Take a moment in a crouched position to regain your balance.
○ Keep your back straight and stand up slowly while looking forward (not down!).
○ Make sure to stabilize yourself on the board before starting to paddle. It's important to have good paddle board techniques

Improve your paddle strokes: How to paddle forward and how to paddle backwards?

○ Make sure the paddle is oriented in the opposite direction to yours, not turned towards you, to get the best possible traction in the water.
○ Remember that the power of your paddle sweep stroke should come from your core muscles also known as your abdominal muscles, not your arms.
○ Keep the paddle close to your board, not too far to the side.
○ Reach your arms forward, then bring your paddle into the water, stopping near where your feet are to avoid wasting energy by propelling water behind you.

How to Stand Up Paddle Board? Tips & Tricks for Beginners

How to turn and navigate in SUP?

To turn while paddle boarding, you can use a technique called the "J-stroke" by paddling on one side and pulling the paddle towards you to pivot the SUP in the opposite direction. When paddling, you should consider the weather and the condition of the water to avoid strong currents and waves. It's also essential to maintain a stable and centred position on the SUP to avoid falling into the water. With practice and patience, you can become an expert in paddle boarding.

two people paddling on a lake

How to fall on a paddle board?

○ Falling off your board is inevitable. Just make sure to do it safely.
○ Fall to the side, away from your board, so you don't hit it.
○ Try to fall flat on the water, so you don't go too deep and don't touch anything that might be under the water.
○ Since your board is attached to you by the safety leash, it won't drift away. Just pull it close to you and get ready to get back on board.

How to get up in SUP?

○ With one hand, grab the handle located in the middle of the board and with the other hand, grab the other side of the board.
○ Let your legs float on the surface of the water.
○ Place your elbows on the board to stabilize yourself, bring your legs onto the board, and return to a kneeling position in the center of the board.
○ Repeat the steps you took at the beginning to get back to standing position on your board.

Many schools offer courses to get familiar with stand-up paddle boarding, and it's highly recommended for beginners to take a few lessons. Once you master the technique, this low-impact activity is incredibly enjoyable to practice all summer long.

SUP is suitable for people of all ages and can even be combined with other activities once you feel more comfortable on your board (such as yoga on a board!). Whatever type of practice you choose, you'll be working on your abdominal muscles, balance, and concentration. Additionally, you'll benefit from a healthy dose of vitamin D and the refreshing feeling of being in the water.

Have fun!

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