You may have driven past the coastline to see a paddleboarder effortlessly moving their way across the calm waters as the sun sets and wondered if it is for you. A lot of local lakes and other recreational centers are a hot spot for paddle boarding, making it one of the most popular water sports around.
So, with so many people paddleboarding, it must be easy right? Well, this isn’t completely wrong, but there is a learning curve involved. It might not be as steep as some of the other disciplines out there, but it is never a bad idea to learn some of the most useful tips. Here are some of ours:
Take Your Time
As with any new sport, this is a marathon, not a sprint so don’t expect to be able to take to your Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) and have the balance of a pro. Yes, some people find it easy to become a fast learner at everything they try but go at your own pace. This will save you from the frustration and allow you to gradually improve. Most people tend to get it before too long.
Use A Leash
Newcomer or not, it is always a good idea to make SUP as easy as possible. Expect to fall off a lot in the initial stages of learning how to paddleboard, and chasing after the board can be tiring.
Keeping it on a leash means it’s never too far away so you can conserve some energy on your next attempt. Not only can a leash save your life but it can stop it from hitting another paddle boarder and endangering theirs.
Make Sure It Is Facing The Right Way
An easy mistake to make when not familiar with a SUP, but one you won’t keep making. Because it can cause the board to tip upon the first stroke or two, it is something you are going to want to get right before getting on.
Otherwise, it can impact the stability of the blade and each stroke will put more stress on the shoulders than necessary. The motion should be smooth and will be when the SUP is facing the right way.
Use Your Core
Although the arms are going to be pushing, use your core, the strongest and most effective muscles available. This also takes a lot of the strain off of other areas such as the shoulders and allows you to make powerful strokes using less effort.
Choose Quality Gear
Although the temptation can be to save money on equipment, once you are ready to invest in your own, it is going to be more enjoyable on gear that makes life easier on the water. Quality materials and convenience are part of what makes inflatable paddle boards such a good choice for many people. They are also reasonably priced making them ideal for beginners where the price can start to increase quickly. Check for weight capacity and try and get some useful added extras if possible.
Pay Attention To Wind Direction
This is going to play a big part in how stable you are, and which direction to paddle. Because you are the upright part of the board, a strong wind can push you around like a sail. This is going to make any changes in direction particularly tricky for a newbie.
When the wind is too strong, it is ok to lie on the board and wait for it to pass or use your arms to paddle. Eventually, most people learn to balance in most conditions. Part of this is down to strength, and it all comes with experience and practice.
Look At The Horizon
When first trying paddleboarding out, it is tempting to watch your every stroke, ensure the paddle passes through the water, and keep an eye on everything around your feet. This isn’t the best approach for balance.
The easiest way to remain stable is with a straight back and lifted head with bodyweight positioned over the toes. This will become natural eventually so start by practicing this stance as long as you feel comfortable with between glances at the water.
Give Others Some Room
Finding space for yourself ensures that others have some too. If you are SUP on a lake then this might not be as easy as with the ocean but it is usually possible. Try and anticipate when someone is getting closer and give yourself time to move comfortably. A lot of paddle boarders are pretty sympathetic to newcomers and should be able to give you some room of your own.
If you fall, you need to be able to so safely, which leads us to…
Falling with grace is one thing, but falling from a stand-up paddleboard needs to be done correctly. You will want to fall as far away from the board as possible to not hit it on the way down, remember that your leash will stop it from going far.
Riding waves can make this tricky, but it is all the more important to learn to keep away from the board when this happens.
Take Baby Steps
There is no need to head for those mid-sized waves the minute you feel comfortable with standing on the board. These should be worked up to. Master the basics before you endanger yourself and those around you. Stick to what your skill level is capable of and keep working towards those goals.
Look After Your Equipment
Always clean your paddleboard and paddle after each use. This will ensure it is in the best working condition possible before you next go out. The materials might seem strong, but they are not immune to breaking if not cared for properly.
Ask For Advice
One of the fastest ways to improve at anything is to seek the advice of those who are more experienced and better than you. This is very much the case with SUP. As an activity that can be enjoyed as a group or solo, there are usually plenty of people in the hot spots to ask for some tips of their own.