If you’re looking to pick up a water sport this summer but aren’t sure which one is easy to get into, then you may want to consider stand up paddle boarding (SUP). For more of a relaxed water sport, and one that combines surfing and paddling.
SUP is great for beginners and not to mention, an incredible full body workout! With stand up paddle boarding, the rider stands upright on the board and uses their paddle to propel themselves through the water.
As with anything, you’ll want to choose the right equipment for the conditions of water you plan to SUP in. If you’re reading this, it’s probably your first time getting on a stand up paddle board so listen close, we’ll help prepare you by providing an overview of what you’ll need to know about paddle boarding for beginners so we can ensure you’ll have a good time and stay safe.
First Thing’s First – Equipment
This will depend on your skill level, your physical size and weight and what you want to do with your SUP. For help choosing the best board for you, check out a detailed buyers guide from REI here. For your first paddle board though you’ll want something reasonably priced and beginner friendly. Today there are tons of really great inflatable paddle boards that won’t break the bank, are super durable and really stable.
Select a paddle that is roughly 6″ to 8″ taller than you. The paddle consists of a blade, shaft and handle. The difference in these paddles compared to paddles for other sports is that they have an elbow, otherwise known as an angle in the shaft. The paddles are often constructed from carbon, fiberglass or wood.
A PFD (Personal Flotation Device) is essential and the best PFDs for paddle boarding are U.S. Coast Guard marked, look for CGA (Coast Guard Approved) when purchasing a life vest. Another thing to consider carrying with you a safety whistle and light for paddling during sunset.
In cold conditions, we recommend wearing a wet or drysuit. When the weather is good and the water warm, comfortable shorts and a t-shirt are suitable for your clothing choice.
This technically would fall into the safety gear category. A leash connects you to your SUP meaning that if you fall, you won’t have to worry about your board drifting away. Having your SUP attached to you also guarantees that you’ll have a flotation device handy should you find yourself in a sticky situation. To see leash options, check out these.
Getting Into the Water
1. Make sure you start in calm water that doesn’t have obstacles in your way, this will ensure that you’ll actually be able to get into the water and stand on your board without trouble.
2. In shallow water, knee deep, stand next to your board and rest your paddle across the deck so you can use it as an outrigger. Note: The blade should be resting on the water.
3. With one hand holding the board by the rails and the other holding the paddle grip, climb onto the center part of the board, first kneeling and with both hands on the side of the board to stabilize.
4. Once you’ve got your balance you can stand up, placing one foot at a time, in the same place your knees were, hip width distance apart.
5. Make sure your toes are facing forward and your knees are slightly bent then, with a straight back and using your abs, look forward and in the direction you want to go.
The water you are paddling in should be at least shoulder deep. This will ensure that your paddle won’t touch the bottom or if you fall in you won’t be at a high risk for hitting anything.
Your fins should be in the back of your board as you paddle, if not then you’re facing the wrong way ;). You’ll notice that with the fins at the back, you’ll be able to stay straight.
Use Your Core
Don’t ride in waves outside of your skill level. If you get caught in a wind, lay on your board and tuck your paddle under you so you can then paddle as if you were on a normal surfboard (This is called paddling prone)
Main SUP Turns
Let’s Wrap Up
The great thing about stand up paddle boarding is that it isn’t so difficult to learn! Follow our tips for beginners and you’ll be out enjoying before you know it and getting a great cardio workout at the same time 🙂
If you decide to buy your own gear, make sure you purchase the right equipment for your size, weight and skill. In addition, most places consider stand up paddle boards as vessels which means that PFDs will be required; when you’re safety is at risk it’s better to be equipped.
Lastly, remember that you will probably fall off your board a few times or more while learning but don’t let that discourage you; the more experience you gain the less often you’ll fall. Thanks for reading; Enjoy paddling away!