Want to connect with nature this summer? Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is a popular way to enjoy a day in the waterways, whether on a lake, on the bay, or even in the ocean. Paddle boarding gives you a full-body workout that you can tailor to your fitness level. At the same time, you get a gorgeous view of the water, the sky, and your surroundings.
The other advantage of paddle boarding is that it’s fairly easy to learn. Here are some basic pointers for the beginning paddle boarder:
1. Choose a safe place
For your first paddle-boarding experience, be sure to choose calm waters and a still day. Try to find a place that’s fairly open, so that you don’t have to maneuver around too many obstacles. Be sure to go with a friend or loved one, for safety and company.
2. Rent the right equipment
Most water sports equipment businesses offer stand up paddle board rentals. Simply ask the staff at the rental shop for a beginner board. If they offer different sizes, you’ll want to ask for the size that is best for your height and weight. This goes for the paddle too—ask for help in choosing the right length paddle. You’ll also need a leash that connects you to the paddle board. For most beginners, a one-hour rental is usually long enough for the first time.
3. Wear the right gear
You’ll want a comfortable swimsuit for paddle boarding. If you’re feeling athletic, try a racerback swimsuit or other one-piece swimsuit options. Chlorine-resistant swimwear is another great option. Chlorine resistant swimwear is made of colorfast fabrics that are resistant to fading. Designed with athletic cuts, the swimsuits’ specialized Lycra holds up to the effects of the sun, chlorine, and repeated washings. For added comfort, wear a pair of boardshorts over your swimsuit. Like all water sports, consider wearing a life vest and bringing a safety whistle.
4. Learn how to get on the board correctly
Once you’re geared up and ready to go, it’s time for business. To begin, you first need to know how to stand up on the board. Begin with the board in knee-deep water. With the board beside you, standing at the center point of the board, carefully kneel on the board, just behind the center spot. Hold onto the sides of the board, and move one foot at a time to the spot where your knee just was. Now you’ll be squatting. From this position, slowly get into standing position, by raising your chest first and then straightening your legs.
5. Maintain balance
To stay balanced, keep your feet parallel to each other, pointing forward, and spread apart about the width of your hips. Your knees should be bent slightly. As you paddle, be sure to look out in front of you toward the horizon. Looking down at your feet may make you lose your balance.
6. Hold the paddle correctly
The beginner paddle boarder often holds the paddle incorrectly. You want the blade to be angled forwards, not backwards. Also, be sure to keep the correct hand on top. When paddling on the right side, your left hand should be on top. When paddling on the left side, your right hand should be on top.
7. Learn the three main strokes
The key to good paddling is to use your core muscles rather than your arms. Twist from your torso and keep your arms fairly straight as you move the paddle through the water. Here are the three main strokes to learn:
For a forward stroke, reach the paddle about two feet forward in the water, and move the paddle until it is even with your ankle, and then bring it up. Always be sure to submerge the full paddle when starting a new stroke. To stay in a straight line, you will need to switch sides frequently, like every 2 to 4 strokes.
For a reverse paddle stroke, reach the paddle behind you, toward the back end of the board, and pull it forward until it is even with your ankle. A reverse stroke is used to slow down or turn the paddle board. A reverse stroke on the left side will make the front of the boat turn left, and vice versa.
The sweep turn is the third important stroke. It helps you turn your board faster than the reverse stroke. Simply reach the paddle forward toward the nose of the board, as though you’re doing a forward stroke, and then make a wide half-circle motion as you pull the paddle toward the back of the boat. A sweep stroke on the right will turn the boat to the left, and vice versa.
8. Practice falling
It’s a good idea to practice falling off the paddle board before you actually take your first fall. The key is to fall away from the board and into the open water. This can help avoid getting hurt by the board itself.
Paddle boarding takes a little practice, but once you’ve got the strokes down, it will start to feel more natural. With these tips, your first time on a paddle board will be a blast! It’s the perfect way to enjoy the waterways and take in the nature that surrounds you. You will love it!