Top Mistakes When Surfing Paddle Boards

Paddle boarding is a recreational activity that has grown in popularity over the years. With the right stand up paddle board, you can explore flat waters, enjoy some fishing, or even ride the waves. However, as fun and straightforward as paddle boarding may appear, there are common mistakes that can hinder your surfing paddle board experience. Here's a rundown of the top mistakes you should avoid when surfing paddle boards and how to correct them.

Key Highlights:

  1. Choosing the Right Board: Importance of selecting a board designed for surfing to improve maneuverability and performance.
  2. Correct Paddling Technique: How mastering the right technique enhances efficiency, reduces fatigue, and maintains stability.
  3. Essential Safety Gear: Prioritizing safety with the right gear, including a personal flotation device and a leash.
  4. Weather and Wave Awareness: Understanding and respecting weather conditions and wave forecasts to avoid dangerous situations.
  5. Knowing Your Limits: The significance of paddling within your abilities and gradually progressing to bigger waves.
  6. Respecting Water Etiquette: Sharing the water responsibly with other surfers and water users to ensure everyone's safety and enjoyment.
  7. Proper Stance on the Board: Adjusting your stance for optimal balance and control while surfing paddle boards.
  8. Maintaining Fitness for Paddle Boarding: Recognizing the importance of physical strength, endurance, and balance in enhancing your paddle boarding skills.
  9. Equipment Maintenance: Regular care and upkeep of your paddle board and accessories for longevity and peak performance.

woman on an inflatable paddle board

Choosing the Wrong Paddle Board

One of the major mistakes people make is choosing the wrong paddle board. While there are various types of paddle boards such as inflatable paddle boards, solid paddle boards, and fishing paddle boards, not all are designed for surfing. A board well-suited for flat water or fishing may not perform well on waves.

Your surfing paddle board should have the right volume and weight capacity to accommodate your weight and skill level. It should also have the right shape - shorter boards are often better for surfing as they are more maneuverable. Additionally, your paddle board's fins also play a critical role in your board's performance in waves. A three-fin setup, also known as a thruster, is usually best for surfing as it offers extra stability and control.

Not Using the Correct Paddling Technique

Another common mistake is not using the correct paddling technique. Paddling on a paddle board is not the same as paddling on a kayak. It requires different movements and balance. For instance, stand up paddle boarding requires you to stand upright on your board and use a long paddle to propel yourself forward. Using the incorrect paddling technique can lead to less efficient paddling, rapid fatigue, and potential instability.

Not Checking the Safety Gear

Safety should always be a top priority when surfing paddle boards. Neglecting safety gear is a big mistake that can lead to serious injuries or even life-threatening situations. Always ensure you have a personal flotation device (PFD), and don't forget the leash, which will keep your board close by if you fall off. It's also crucial to wear suitable clothing for the conditions and carry a whistle for signaling in case of an emergency.

Disregarding Weather and Wave Conditions

surfing waves on a paddle board

Before heading out to surf, you should check the weather and wave conditions. Many paddle boarders make the mistake of ignoring weather conditions or failing to understand wave forecasts, leading to dangerous situations. Big waves and high winds are not suitable for beginner or intermediate paddlers.

Overestimating Your Abilities

Just like any other sport, overestimating your abilities can lead to mistakes when surfing paddle boards. While confidence is important, it's also necessary to understand your skill level and paddle within your limits. As a beginner, start on small, soft waves before moving on to larger, more powerful waves.

Not Respecting Other Surfers and Water Users

Not respecting other surfers and water users is a mistake that can ruin your surfing experience and that of others. Always remember that you are sharing the water with other surfers, swimmers, and water users. Understand and adhere to the surfing etiquette - for instance, the surfer closest to the peak of the wave has the right of way.

Incorrect Position on the Board

Finally, one common mistake is standing incorrectly on the paddle board. Your feet should be positioned parallel to each other, about hip-width distance apart, in the center of the board. Leaning too far forward or backward can cause you to lose balance and fall.

Neglecting the Importance of Fitness

While paddle boarding might appear as a laid-back sport, it requires a significant amount of strength and endurance. Neglecting the importance of fitness is a common mistake among paddle boarders, which can lead to fatigue, decreased performance, and even injury. Paddle boarding primarily engages your core, but it also works your arms, legs, and back. Hence, improving your overall fitness, including your strength, endurance, and balance, can significantly enhance your paddle boarding experience. Regular workouts off the water that target these areas can help.

Improper Care and Maintenance of Equipment

Your paddle board and its accessories require regular care and maintenance to stay in top condition. Unfortunately, many paddle boarders overlook this, leading to unnecessary wear and tear or even damage to their equipment. Rinse your board and paddle with fresh water after every use to remove any salt or sand that can cause damage over time. If you use an inflatable paddle board, make sure it's fully dried before deflating and storing to avoid mold and mildew. Regularly check your board for any damage and fix it promptly. Properly maintaining your equipment not only extends its lifespan but also ensures it performs well for your surfing endeavors.


falling off a paddle board

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can enhance your paddle boarding experience and enjoy a safer, more rewarding ride on the waves. Remember, the key to successful paddle boarding is practice, patience, and respect for the water and other users. Stay safe and have fun out there!