How To Paddle Board (SUP) For Beginners
Paddle boarding is a great way to explore your local waterways, get some exercise, and enjoy the sunshine. However, if you're new to the sport, it can be a bit intimidating at first. Don't worry though, with the right guidance and a bit of practice, you'll be standing up and paddling in no time!
In this blog post, we'll go over everything you need to know to get started with paddle boarding such as:
- What is paddle boarding?
- Is paddle boarding difficult?
- Paddle board essentials
- Adjusting and holding your paddle
- Types of SUP boards
- How to standup
- How to get onto your board after falling off
- How to paddle
- Tips for your first outing
- Do you need a license to go paddle board?
What Is Paddle Boarding?
Paddle boarding, or SUP, is a water sport that involves standing on a large, stable board and using a paddle to navigate through the water. It is a versatile activity that can be enjoyed on lakes, rivers, and oceans, and is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.
The sport originated in Hawaii as a way for surf instructors to manage large groups of students, but it has since become popular all over the world as a recreational activity and a workout. Whether you're looking for a relaxing paddle or an intense workout, paddle boarding is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and stay active.
Is Paddle Boarding Difficult?
Honestly, paddle boarding isn't hard! you can easily learn the basics within a day or two. There are more difficult forms of paddle boarding such as SUP surfing, SUP yoga and touring but you will be able to pick up everyday paddle boarding quickly.
The Essentials For Paddle Boarding
Stand Up Paddle Board
An obvious answer, but you can paddle board without your board. The first couple of times you may want to rent the equipment but afterwards you may want to get your own board and kit. For more advice on picking out a paddle board check out our Paddle Board Buying Guide.
You won't get very far without a paddle. You want to make sure that your paddle is the right length for you (we will get to that in a moment).
A PDF (Personal Flotation Device) is a good idea when out on the water for obvious reasons.
Dry bags are an essential piece of kit as it means you can take your phone, keys, spare jumper etc with you on the board whilst keeping it all dry.
If you are planning on paddling for a long time or in the warmer months, definitely take a bottle of water to keep hydrated.
Paddle Board Leash
These are what keep you and your board attached. So if you fall of your board won't float away from you. You paddle board is your biggest floatation device so being attached to it is important for your safety.
Remember, water reflects the sunlight so being protected from the sun is important. You may also want to bring a hat, uv skins as well so that you don't have to worry about the painful sunburn.
Light and Whistle
Safety first! If you're going to be paddling in the dark, a light and whistle is a must for your safety.
Wearing appropriate clothes is important. If you're going on the sea where you're more likely to fall of off, a wetsuit might be ideal to keep you warm, especially in the colder months. If you're going for a paddle during spring/summer, swimwear, shorts, uv tops etc are perfect.
How To Hold and Adjust Your Paddle
Ensuring that your paddle is the correct height is very important to help with your posture when paddling and avoid any injuries.
How To Adjust Your Paddle
One of the most common method to get the correct height on your paddle is by putting the blade on the floor and holding the paddle up straight, parallel to your body. Reach your arm up and adjust the handle to be at the same height as your hand, make sure that the handle feels comfortable to check the position. Once you have adjusted the height make sure to do the clasp back up and you're good to go!
How To Hold Your Paddle
it's often that you see beginners holding their paddle the wrong way round. To make sure this isn't you, remember these tips:
- The curve of the blade should face the nose of the board.
- When swapping sides you're paddling on, swap your hands around. So if you're paddling on the left, have your right hand at the top on the handle and your left on the shaft, about shoulder width apart. When paddling on your right, just switch the hands round.
What SUP Board Is Best For You
Getting the correct paddle board is important as you want to make sure if fits your style, height and ability. Depending on what form of paddle boarding you're wanting to do, depends on what size and shape board you get.
- Surfing SUP
If you are looking to do SUP surfing, you will be wanting to opt for a smaller sized board, anything between 8'10 and 10'6 is an deal size.
- All Round SUP
The most popular boards are the 10'6 boards as they are in the middle of the sizes and are perfect for anyone and everyone. This size is also great for beginners as it provides you with great maneuverability and stability.
- Touring SUP
Touring SUPs are anything above 11.0". These boards are slightly narrower to cut through the water better and get more speed. Perfect for those of you that want to explore coastlines or rivers.
For more information on picking the correct paddle board read our Paddle Board Buying Guide
How To Stand Up Paddle Board
As we said previously, learning to paddle board is fairly easy and will only take you a couple of tries till you have it nailed.
To launch your SUP you just want to begin by wading out into the water with your board, making sure that the fin is facing downwards. Place your paddle across the board and get onto the board on your knees. Practice paddling on your knees until you feel confident enough to try and stand up.
Now for the real stuff, trying to stand. Take your time trying to stand. Firstly you want to place your feet where your knees have been and get into a squat position, you can use your hands too to help with balance. Then grab your paddle and start to stand up.
Some Tips For Standing Up
The easiest way to keep your balance once you've stood up is to get some momentum. So, when you stand up, start paddling. If you are struggling to keep your balance look forward towards the horizon instead of down at your feet. Also, try and engage your core.
How To Get Onto A Paddle Board After Falling Off
Falling off your SUP is very common, whether you're a beginner or not. When falling, make sure to fall away from the board and preferably not on the paddle too. Then keep a hold on the paddle whilst trying to get back on.
To get back onto your board, hold onto the strap in the middle of your board and hoist yourself up. Then start of again on your knees until you're ready to stand up.
How To Paddle
Here is some of the basic strokes to do when paddling on your SUP:
- Forward Stroke:
This is the most basic paddle stroke and is used to move your board forward. To perform a forward stroke, place the paddle blade into the water near the front of the board and pull it back towards your ankle, keeping your arms straight, knees slightly bent and using your torso to rotate and power the stroke.
- Sweep stroke:
The sweep stroke is used to turn your board. To perform a sweep stroke, start by placing the paddle blade near the front of the board and then sweep it out in a wide arc away from the board. This will cause the board to turn in the opposite direction of the sweep.
- Draw stroke:
The draw stroke is used to pull your board towards you, think of it as reversing. To perform a draw stroke, place the paddle blade in the water near the tail of the board and pull it towards you, using your arms and torso to power the stroke. This can be useful for getting your board closer to a dock or other object.
Tips For Your First Outing
- Choose Calm Water
For your first time out, choose a calm and shallow area of water, such as a lake or bay. This will help you get comfortable with standing on the board and paddling without the added challenge of waves and currents.
- Start on your knees
If you're not feeling confident standing up on the board right away, start by paddling on your knees. This will help you get comfortable with the motion and balance of paddling before you try standing up.
- Keep your eyes forward
Try to keep your eyes focused on the horizon rather than looking down at the board or your paddle. This will help you maintain your balance and stay oriented on the water.
- Take breaks
Paddling can be tiring, especially if you're not used to it. Take breaks as needed to rest and rehydrate.