Stand Up Paddleboarding for Beginners
The Beginning of Something Wonderful
Paddleboarding is one of the most liberating ways to relax and have fun out on the water. Though there are many different types of advanced activities that paddleboarders can enjoy, including fishing, yoga, racing, touring, surfing, and more. We’ll be stripping things back and focusing on the basics. If you’re just starting out on your boarding journey, we’ll give you the information you need to ride on a wave of confidence and leave your worries behind.
Essential SUPporting Exercises
Before heading out into deeper water, there are a number of movements and stances that you should get familiar with in the shallows. Practicing these on a beginner-level board is ideal. Learning these in a controlled environment will help tremendously when you get into deeper or choppier waters.
1. Getting On Board
When considering paddleboarding for beginners, learning how to stand on your board is the first step to success. As mentioned before, it’s best to learn this exercise in shallower waters to minimize the risk of anything going wrong.
- Start out in knee-deep water and stand beside your board. Make sure you are in deep enough water so that the fins on your board are not touching or scraping anything.
- Hold each edge of the board and slowly shift yourself into a kneeling position just behind the center of your board.
- Keep your hands steady on both edges of the board as you begin to place your feet where your knees were. Move one foot at a time rather than trying to move both your feet at once.
- Stand up by raising your chest first, until you are in a squat position with your knees bent. Once your chest is vertical, you can extend your legs and get into a full standing position!
2. Building Balance
Once you have mastered the ability to get into a standing position on your paddleboard, it’s time to learn how to balance. This is the second key exercise to make paddleboarding for beginners more comfortable.
- Your stance plays an important role in keeping you level on your board. Keep your feet hip-width apart and centered between the edges of your board.
- Lower your center of gravity slightly by keeping your toes pointed forward, back straight, and knees slightly bent.
- Avoid using your upper body to try and balance. Keep your head and shoulders steady and use your hips to shift your weight and maintain stability.
- As tempting as it may be, avoid staring at your feet. Try looking out into the distance, instead.
3. Falling For Paddleboarding
An essential learning curve when paddleboarding for beginners comes from falling off your board. It’s almost inevitable that you will lose your balance at some point, and when that happens, you should know exactly how to get back onto your board.
- When falling, try to fall to the side so that you hit the water. Falling on your board can hurt, though you can minimize the pain your board causes by opting for an iSUP (inflatable stand up paddleboard)
- Try to hold onto your paddle when falling. If you lose it, get on your board first and use your hands to paddle to your paddle.
- When trying to get back onto your board, position yourself next to the board and near its center - much like you practiced while in the shallows.
- Grab the handle located in the middle of your board
- Let your legs float up behind you, then kick forward and slowly slide yourself back onto your board.
Essential Paddling Techniques
To make paddleboarding for beginners a smooth process, learning how to use a paddle is an absolute must. The below three strokes should be in every paddleboarder’s arsenal.
1. Forward Stroke
- Your bottom arm should be kept straight and still
- Move your top arm toward your body to extend the paddle forward
- Shift your top shoulder forward and extend your reach
- Slip the paddle into the water as far forward as possible
- Think of pulling yourself past your paddle rather than pulling your paddle toward you
- To paddle in a straight line, take a few strokes on one side and then shift to the other side.
- Don’t forget to switch the position of your hands when you paddle on different sides of your board.
2. Forward Sweep Stroke
- To turn left, place your paddle in the water to your right and turn your torso to the left.
- Make sure to keep a low stance and pull to the right toward the tail of your board. Twist your body and lean to the left and you should feel the board shifting left with you.
3. Reverse Sweep Stroke
- To turn right, place your paddle near the tail of your board and shift your torso right. Your board’s nose will begin moving to the right if you are successful.
- Make sure to bend your knees to make it easier to turn your board.
What Conditions are Best for Paddleboarding for Beginners?
After learning the basics, it’s still important to take things slowly until you have a little more experience under your belt. The ideal conditions to practice all that you’ve learned include the following:
Calm Waters – starting out with choppy waves can be demoralizing as maintaining balance in rougher waters is tricky for beginners. Instead, seek out calmer waters so that you can give yourself a good chance to practice.
Less Wind – When standing on your paddleboard, you basically act as a sail. If you head out in windy conditions, you’ll often be at the mercy of the wind and not the other way round. Instead, practice your paddling strokes on a windless day so you can work on your technique before you decide to battle the elements.
Shallower Waters – Don’t head out to deep waters until you’re confident. Make sure you have your fundamentals memorized to the point of being muscle memory and then brave the deep waters further from shore.
Avoid Crowds – Give yourself enough space to learn comfortably. If you’re competing for space with other people, you’ll spend more time avoiding others than improving your skills.
Lakes – If possible, try and find a still lake when you’re just starting out. Rivers and oceans can have strong currents that will make paddleboarding for beginners tougher.
The Board Necessities
Choosing the correct board is extremely important to any beginner’s journey into the world of paddleboarding. Generally, beginner boards should have the following necessary features: more width and enough length to ensure as stable a ride as possible. A thicker board that holds more volume will also improve stability and be beneficial to beginners. An allround board will often be a good starting point for beginners and will often allow them to branch out into other paddleboarding activities without being at too much of a disadvantage. Below is a list of boards suitable for paddleboarding for beginners:
This board is perfect for beginners as it offers a great launching-off point and is right at home in calmer conditions. The lighter and smaller design makes the board very maneuverable while also making it a great companion for learning to paddleboard in lakes, gentle rivers, and even calm ocean waters.
As this board’s name suggests, it is a hefty piece of kit that is built to be stable in many kinds of water conditions while also being able to handle larger loads. The perfect board for heavier boarders or for those who eventually want to board with a partner or pet, the AquaPlanet MAX provides a solid platform to build paddleboarding confidence and gain new skills.
Another well-rounded board that’s built to facilitate paddleboarding for beginners, this board’s bold and adventurous belies its safe and solid reputation. If you plan on spending long hours practicing your skills and being out on the water, this board has the right feature set to take you from beginner to pro in no time!
This board truly does provide an advantage out on the waves as it is built to be as rock-solid and sturdy as possible. Providing an ideal place from which to improve and grow, the Advantage Outsider is also capable of carrying heavy loads and excels even in rougher conditions.
This is a board that inspires confidence by having a stellar set of features that beginners will love. For those who are looking to branch out and try other paddleboarding activities after mastering the basics, this board will help you while you are a beginner while also being a suitable companion for surfing, touring, racing and even ocean yoga later down the line!