During my years teaching paddling boarding in Canada and Mexico, I have taught many first-time paddle boarders. One thing I’ve learned is that there are as many questions as there are people. This isn’t an article about paddle board technique. I have written about that subject elsewhere on my blog. Rather, these tips are things new paddle boarders should know, but is rarely taught during a SUP lesson.
Use Your Core Rather Than Your Arms
Ok, this tip is probably taught during a lesson (at least it should be), but it is definitely worth repeating. When you get on the paddleboard for the first time, your first instinct when paddling will be to use your arms in an effort to move further ahead. What many beginners do not realize is that the power to move ahead comes from your core, which is a bigger and stronger muscle group compared to the arms. Using your arms will only work against you as it will tire you before you can begin to fully enjoy the paddle boarding experience.
Ensure the Board is Facing in the Right Direction
This tip may sound obvious but I’ve seen it enough times that it’s worth mentioning. Inexperienced people don’t always position the board in the correct direction. Before you jump on the board and into the water, check where the fins are located and ensure that they are facing the back of the SUP when paddling. The fins help to keep the paddleboard going in a straight line, which is called tracking. When your fins are facing the front, you will find it difficult trying to control the board because it will not move in a straight line regardless of how hard you try.
Invest in a Leash
Leashes are critical because they ensure that your safety is maintained at all times. A leash that is attached to your ankle keeps you connected to the board should you fall. No matter how strong the swell or current. You are no more than 10 or 12 feet from your board. There are different types of leashes for paddle boarding and the type that you pick is based on your preference. There are mainly two types of leashes on the market, straight and coiled leashes.
Be Mindful of Other Paddleboarders
If you are paddling around other people, be sure to be mindful of the space. Paddleboards are big and they can hurt someone seriously. When you are learning how to SUP, try and find an isolated spot where you will not disturb others. Once you gain confidence and the ability to control the board’s direction, you’re ready for more crowded waters.
Learn How to Fall
When falling, you want to fall away from the board in a manner that will not hurt you. Ideally, you want to fall backwards landing on your butt. This position helps to prevent injuries, especially head injuries. Don't be afraid to practice your falls. It helps develop muscle memory. Although to be honest, as a new paddler, you’ve probably had enough of that practice already.
As a new paddle boarder, incorporate these newbie tips to help you get into the sport safely while being mindful of other water users. However, if you want to have an even better paddle boarding experience, I suggest getting a lesson from a qualified instructor. While these tips are helpful, there is nothing like learning the proper stroke technique and turns to get the most out of this great sport.
The Wappa Blog
Written by Wappa's founder Layne Pennell, the blog's aim is to educate and share his love of stand up paddle boarding with anyone interested in SUP.