Most people assume that standup paddleboarding requires much in the way of athleticism, personal fitness, and most importantly, balance. And, it is true that every paddleboarder has fallen off his or her SUP, there are some things a beginner can do to ease their learning curve en route to learning to stand up paddleboard. It all begins with learning how to stand and balance on a SUP. From there, under the right conditions, paddling is a breeze.
The first thing to know when trying to learn to stand and balance on a paddleboard is that not all boards are created equal in this regard. Some boards are built for speed, some for surfing, and others for balance. The trick is knowing what type of paddleboard you are on. Some quick tips are that the narrower the board, the more tippy it will be. Taller individuals will want longer boards. Also, plastic paddleboards are designed more for recreational and beginner use and they are generally more stable than their epoxy and fiberglass counterparts.
Regardless of the type of SUP you have, whether stable or tippy, you’ll want to follow these steps when first learning how to stand and balance on a SUP.
1. Place the SUP in the Water
Try to find a launch site where you can stand in the water; knee to thigh deep is best. In other words, you’ll want to start out in water deep enough so that the fin doesn’t hit the bottom but shallow enough so that you can stand and climb up onto the SUP with ease.
2. Position the Board to Get On it
Point the SUP out away from shore and walk it out a little way. Once you are in a location where you are comfortable getting on the board, face the board in the middle of the SUP where the grab handle is. Place your paddle in your hand that is closest to the front of the board.
3. Getting onto Your SUP
You are now ready to get onto your paddleboard. Don’t worry, you won’t be standing on it right away. Place the outside hand hold the paddle on the board for support and climb onto your SUP in the kneeling position. Get your balance in the kneeling position with your knees straddling the grab handle. If you must get on your SUP from deep water, do so by climbing onto your belly first, then moving into the kneeling position.
4. Start Paddling
You are going to paddle your SUP in the kneeling position to get used to it. Grab your paddle lower on the shaft and begin paddling around. When you are comfortable, shake the board from side to side a little bit to get a feel for how it leans and tips.
5. Get the SUP Moving
You are now ready to try to stand up on your paddleboard. You’ll want to do this while the board is moving. Its counter-intuitive, but think of a bike. It is much more stable while its moving than going slow or stopped.
6. Stand up on the Board
With your SUP moving smoothly on the surface of the water, begin to move from a kneeling position to a standing position. It is fine to keep a hand or both on the board to keep it steady. As you place your feet on the board, straddle the handle in the center of the board with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
7. Posture and Balance on the Standup Paddleboard
Once standing you’ll want to maintain a good posture on the board. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees bent, and your back straight. The most common mistake for new standup paddleboarders is to have their knees straight and to be leaning forward. They do this to keep their balance, but the best want to be balanced is to keep the knees bent and the back straight.
8. What to do in Rough Water, Waves, or Wind
You’ll find that in flat water it is pretty easy to paddle the board. However, there are times when the conditions will change and you’ll need to have good balance. When this is the case, don’t worry. Bend more at the knees and squat down even to keep your balance. Go back to the kneeling position if its too rough until things settle out.
You’re Paddling a SUP!