Skills to master for someone getting into SUP

If you’ve already gone paddle boarding a couple of times, you likely have a pretty good grasp of the basics of how to paddle board.

If you plan to go out on your stand up paddle board on a regular basis, however, there are some important skills that you will want to practice and master in order to meet your full potential on the water and have the best possible time on your board.

Standing Up

You can check out an in depth guide on how to stand up on a paddle board here. The basics of it are that you want to kneel on the board facing forward, pop your feet up by holding yourself steady with your hands in front of you, stand up and start paddling to get more stability.

As you get better and better at paddling, you may be going faster than your friends and need to wait for them to catch up to you so it is important to learn how to keep your balance standing up without moving forward.

To do this, you'll have to remember to keep your knees bent and move with the water without becoming too stiff. Keep your paddle in the water and make small movements with your paddle to help you keep your balance. 

how to paddle on an inflatable paddle board

Paddling Straight

Switching what side you paddle on is fine for a casual day on the water with new paddlers but if you want to hone your skills to get to the point where you can really get moving and put distance behind you, you’re going to want to learn to adjust your stroke to paddle in a straight line.

We go in depth on exactly what you need to do to perfect your stroke here. Remember to always keep the scoop facing away from you!


how to paddle board



After spending hours mastering paddling in a straight line before being able to not turn this might seem a little redundant but there are times when you will need to turn very quickly like when you have a wake from a boat about to hit you.

To turn quickly, use your paddle to make a wide sweeping motion on the side opposite the direction you want to turn. The wider the sweep, the faster you will be able to turn.

If you have a decent amount of speed and need to make a sharp turn, you can also use your paddle like a rudder and hold it in the water on the side of the boat you would like to turn. This will slow you down considerably but it is by far the fastest way to turn. 

Dealing with waves and wake

Even on a clear, still day, occasional choppy water is inevitable. It can be hard to stay standing while waves are hitting you but there are three things that you can do to stay as stable as possible.

how to become great at paddle boarding


First, if you see waves coming toward you, quickly turn to face the waves, you will be much less likely to fall in if you are rocking forward and back instead of side to side.

Second, Do your best to move with the motion of the waves. Getting tense when you’re being rocked back and forth will just make you more likely to lose your balance. 

Third, lower your center of balance. You can do this by crouching or even just getting on your knees until the waves pass.

Inflating your SUP

A blow up paddle board can make owning a SUP incredibly convenient for storage and transportation. Anyone who has used an inflatable paddle board knows, however, that inflating a paddle board can be a huge hassle.

The first time I inflated a paddle board it took almost 20 minutes to get it to full pressure. Now that I am more experienced it usually only takes about 8 minutes. 

The biggest factor in pumping up your board quickly is using the correct setting on your pump. Most pumps that come with a paddle board are 2-speed, dual-action pumps.

This means that on the higher setting, the pump is moving air on the downstroke and the upstroke. This is great for putting air into a board quickly, but it isn’t so great once a board starts getting higher in pressure.

Once it starts to get harder to pump your board using the double-action, switch your pump to single-action.

This is typically done using a lever, switch or plug located on the pump. To switch simply turn the lever or remove the plug and pumping will become a lot easier. 


stand up paddle board


If you are still finding that it takes forever to get a board up to a full 12+ PSI, consider upgrading your SUP pump. Many high end manual pumps have three “speeds” that make it so you can really crank out air fast.

You could also look into getting an electric pump that can plug into your car’s 12 volt adapter. An electric paddle board pump will be loud but they can reliably get an inflatable paddle board to full pressure in 10 minutes and have the added benefit of letting you get all of your other gear ready while the pump does the hard work for you. 

Packing and Loading your SUP

Another important and easy to forget skill is developing a system for packing and storing your gear quickly so that you can get off the water and get home as quickly as possible.

You don’t want to be fumbling around with fins, paddles and other gear every time you go paddling. Knowing where all of your gear goes means that it will be easier to find when you’re getting ready to go paddling next time.

Ideally you will spend as much time as possible enjoying your time on the water and as little as possible fumbling with gear so getting fast at setting up and taking down your boards is a great skill to have.


paddle board


Paddling with another person or dog on your board

Everyone knows that paddling is so much more fun when you are doing it with another person but sometimes there aren’t enough boards to go around. This doesn’t mean you can’t bring all of your friends (including the furry ones) with you! 


how to paddle board with two people on one board


The main difference when you have two people on a paddle board compared to one is that you have to pay attention to the weight distribution. It’s best for the person paddling to be behind the one that isn’t.

Have the passenger sit or kneel just in front of the midpoint of the board and have the paddler stand or kneel far enough back to even out the weight on the board so that the center of balance is in the middle of the board.

From there all it takes is a little practice and you will be a pro at paddling with others on your board.

Paddling with a dog on board is pretty similar but your dog may take some time to get used to the board and feel comfortable on the water. If you want to know how to perfect the dog/paddle board combo, we wrote a whole post about it here.



Practicing these princples and making them effortless habits will have you looking, and more importantly, feeling like a pro. Let us know if there's anything we missed down below.

If you want tips to master more SUP skills check out the Glide SUP blog here or check out our catalog to find the perfect board for your style of paddling.


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