How Hard is it to Learn to Stand Up Paddleboard?
Written by our biggest guy, Sam Tyler crowd favorite and face of GlideSUP! Here's his best tips and tricks of Stand Up Paddleboarding.
I was pretty nervous the first time I went out paddle boarding. I was going with a few friends who had tried it before and I’m a pretty big guy who doesn't have a great sense of balance. I was worried that I was going to spend the whole afternoon falling into the water over and over again.
While I did fall over a few times, my friends gave me a few tips that helped me get the hang of things and keep up with them. Here are some of the things they said and did that helped me the most.
Give it some time
It took me about an hour to really get the hang of things when I first started paddle boarding. I still wasn’t perfect at that point but that’s when I felt that I could comfortably paddle around without worrying the whole time about falling off. For some people it takes longer and others will pick it up a lot faster than I did. The important thing is to remember that it will start to feel a lot more natural and easy the longer you do it. Keep trying to stand up and balance and eventually it will become second nature to you.
Correct paddle orientation always surprises beginners. Sup paddles have an angled blade, you want the blade to be angled away from you when you are paddling. This can seem counterintuitive at first but holding the paddle the correct way makes for a much more efficient stroke. The angle of the blade allows you to end the stroke with the blade perpendicular to the surface of the water so that you are never wasting energy by lifting/splashing water and you are always pushing water down and behind you to propel you forward.
How to stand up
First standing up is one of the most intimidating parts of getting into paddle boarding. Here is the way that I was taught how to do it that has always worked for me.
First, start on your knees with your legs shoulder width apart on either side of the handle. Place the paddle in front of you perpendicular to the board and grab onto it, putting half of your weight on your hands in front of you. Using your hands to help you balance, move your feet one at a time to where your knees were before so that you are squatting on the board. Slowly stand up with the paddle in your hands, making small adjustments to your foot placement as necessary.
After you stand up your first instinct is going to be to stand still to try to get your balance but you want to get your paddle in the water and start moving as soon as possible as this will help you maintain balance.
Keep the paddle in the water
One of the more surprising tips that really helped me keep my balance while standing up was to keep the paddle in the water. Having the paddle in the water gives you a third point of contact to help you balance. You can use the paddle in the water to shift your balance one way or the other so that you are more stable.
Unlike a regular surfboard, on a SUP you want to always have your feet facing the front of the board. I keep my feet shoulder width apart, straddling the handle with my knees slightly bent. This is the best position to be in for stability and balance. Once you get more experience you may feel comfortable moving around a bit more on the board but this simple stance is great for beginners.