Tips to Master the Art of Standup Paddleboard

Congratulations!  You got your paddleboard, your Insta-ready new suit, and are ready to go – Now what?  How do you do this?  Good news, with a little practice and some tips paddle boarding is not hard at all.  One of the joys of paddleboarding is its simplicity and easy entry to the sport.  Thousands of people are starting the sport every year, with 130.000 boards sold across the US and Europe every year, there must be something drawing them out onto the water. 

There really isn’t a “wrong” way to do it as long as you are having fun.  Many people start out on their knees until they find that balance. But it won’t take long.  Most beginners are on their feet in no time.  Just take things one step at a time, as with so much in life, it’s all about the balance.  

Don’t forget the check the weather and make sure you are ready to get wet.

There are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Start off with quiet water.  No need to try to battle waves and rough patches your first time out.  Smooth, calm water with very little current will be key to a successful first day.
  • Start with the board next to you in knee deep water.  Make sure your fin isn’t dragging along the bottom or stuck in the sand. Place both hands solidly on the board to move your weight to the paddleboard.
  • Learn the “ready pose”.  Stand with your legs shoulder length apart, toes pointing forward, with the knees slightly bent.  This is important because the knees will act like little shock absorbers for the board’s movement.  You will find that this will automatically engage your core muscles and it’s important to always remember that these muscles will keep you upright – they’re important so use them! 
  • Grip the paddle with one hand over the top of the handle and the other one a comfortable distance down towards the middle of the paddle.  The angle in the paddle should face away from you.
  • Don’t look at your feet!  Gaze ahead and you are more likely to keep your balance.  It’s a funny little fact about balance that applies to all kinds of sports, as long you don’t look down you tend to get through the motions more reliably.

Now that you are on your board and ready to go, there are some things to keep in mind for actually moving through the water.  

It’s all in the stroke – It’s important to be aware of the proper stroke technique.  Start with your paddle in the water before you start each stroke.  This will give you more balance, because your paddle acts as a point of contact and helps you to stay standing.  Use your torso to take short, strong strokes submerging your paddle completely to displace the most water which will move you forward.

Turn, Turn, Turn – Now that you are moving forward you are going to want to learn to turn to get around and start your paddle-board sight-seeing.  It’s a matter of putting your paddle into the water and making a “c” motion away from the board.  Don’t be scared!  Just go slowly and practice a couple times while shifting your weight slowly as you go to stay on balance (use those core muscles!).  Then try on the other side to turn the other direction.

Learn to fall! Alas, you will get wet and it’s all part of the fun.  It doesn’t have to be scary and if done correctly, despite the wet plunge, it will keep you from getting hurt.  Use a leash to attach yourself to the equipment and you don’t have to worry about chasing after your board after the fall.   When you feel yourself starting to lose balance use your legs to push as far away from the paddleboard as you can and you will fall into the water and avoid hitting the board.

Don’t be scared to take a lesson to get an insider’s recommendations the first time you go out.  Not only is it more fun to get out on the water for the first time with someone else, but it’s a great way to get the hang of it by benefitting from the advice they can give. It’s also a way to learn new skills and add to your experience.  There is a whole range of activities from yoga to fishing that can be enjoyed on a paddleboard.

Paddleboarding is a great way to spend the day on the water and enjoy the environment so remember to have fun.  As they say the “journey is as important as the destination” and it’s true in learning a new sport, too.  You may as if you were born to it or it may take you a few tries to get the hang of it but the important essence of adventure is there.  Now, good luck and have fun!

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