How Difficult is Standup Paddleboarding?

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is often perceived as a challenging activity, especially for beginners who might be apprehensive about balancing on a board on water. However, with the right approach and preparation, SUP can be surprisingly accessible and enjoyable for people of all skill levels. Here’s a breakdown of what makes SUP a manageable and delightful sport, along with tips for beginners to ensure a smooth start.

Ease of Learning

SUP is inherently beginner-friendly, primarily because it can be practiced on calm waters where the conditions are more controlled and predictable. Unlike surfing, where waves add a significant layer of complexity, SUP on flat water allows for a steady learning curve. The key is to start in a calm environment, such as a placid lake or a quiet bay, where boat traffic and wind are minimal.

If you need some ideas check out our article on where to paddle board in each state!

paddle boards in the distance


Choosing the right equipment is crucial for a positive SUP experience. Boards designed for beginners are typically wider, providing more stability and making it easier to balance. Inflatable SUPs (iSUPs) are a great option due to their convenience, portability, and stability on water. An adjustable paddle also helps in customizing the length for optimal comfort and efficiency.

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The technique for standing up on a paddleboard is straightforward and can be mastered with practice. Starting from a kneeling position helps lower your center of gravity and gain confidence before standing up. The process of rising to your feet involves transitioning from kneeling to a squatting position and then standing up, using the paddle for additional support and balance.


SUP board

Stability and Balance

Momentum is your friend when it comes to maintaining balance on a SUP. Just like riding a bicycle, moving forward helps stabilize the board. Keeping your feet shoulder-width apart, bending your knees slightly, and maintaining an athletic stance contribute to better balance and control.


Effective paddling technique involves engaging your core muscles and larger muscle groups, rather than relying solely on arm strength. This not only provides more power and efficiency but also helps in reducing fatigue. Proper paddle orientation (with the blade angled forward) and full strokes that start from the front of the board and end at your feet maximize propulsion and control.


inflatable paddle board

Turning Techniques

Turning a SUP is relatively simple and can be achieved by paddling more on one side or using specific turning strokes. As you gain confidence, you can experiment with quicker turns by stepping back on the board to lift the nose and facilitate sharper turn

Safety and Comfort

Wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) and using a leash are essential safety measures that protect both beginners and experienced paddlers. Starting in shallow water and practicing falling and getting back on the board demystify the experience of falling and improve overall comfort and safety on the water.


While stand-up paddleboarding may appear challenging at first glance, it is a remarkably approachable and fulfilling activity. With the right preparation, equipment, and mindset, beginners can quickly overcome initial apprehensions and enjoy the myriad benefits of SUP, including full-body exercise, stress relief, and the pure joy of being on the water.

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