What’s SUP: A Beginner’s Guide on How to Stand Up Paddle Board

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According to the 2015 Paddlesports report, stand up paddleboarding has been increasing at a rapid rate every year since 2010. The report presented that approximately 10 million new people per year have been trying out stand up paddleboarding, and that number keeps on increasing. 

The concept of stand up paddle boarding can seem quite intimidating at first. Not many people can naturally comprehend the feeling of walking on water, yet, once you learn, you will forever be hooked. 

The problem is, there aren’t many tutorials or lessons that teach you how to stand up paddleboard correctly. Most places just hand you a lifejacket, paddle, and board with only a short couple sentences on how not to fall off.  

This leaves many people to fear stand up paddleboarding when it could be the best activity they will ever try.

Thankfully, we’ve created this article to teach you how to stand up paddle board, so you can get out on the water and feel confident! 

Let’s get started!

Get to Know the Equipment

To know how to stand up paddleboard properly, you must know how to operate the equipment needed, beyond the board.

The Paddle

The paddle for a stand-up paddleboard is much different than an average paddle for a kayak or rowboat. when it comes to SUP paddles, the length is everything. The paddle should be at least a couple of feet taller than your height and have comfortable grips to hold on to.

To measure your paddle, stand tall with your arm up in the air, stand the paddle upright in front of you and measure it up to your wrist. If it meets your wrist, it is tall enough for you to use.

The Board

Stand up paddleboarding has become so popular that the net market worth of the paddleboard industry has reached nearly $10 billion as of 2020.

There are numerous different styles of stand up paddleboards, as there are multiple different styles of paddleboarding. 

Touring and racing paddleboards have a pointed tip that allows for more streamlined paddling across the water. Yoga and fishing paddleboards are much wider so that there is a base of support for the movement on the board.

Regular, flatwater boards are perfect for rookie paddleboards because they are easy to balance, and have a nice, wide base of support. The bigger the board, the more stable it will be. 

For leisurely paddle boarding, there are two main options; either an inflatable board or a solid design.

Inflatable SUP board

The inflatable SUP board is perfect for those who prefer convenience. If you do not have the room on your vehicle to transfer a giant board, this is the perfect choice for you. Inflatable SUP boards always come with a pump, paddle, leash, and removable fins. 

Solid SUP board

If you can transport a 10-12 foot board, then the solid SUP design is a great choice. The solid SUP is more durable and easier for balancing, and you do not have to worry about any leaks or needing to pump up your board.

Lifejacket

Many places require by law that you wear a lifejacket while paddleboarding. There is always the chance that you could fall off your board, and if you hit your head, you could easily drown.

There are many different styles of lifejackets for SUPing, including the waist belt, vest, blow up lifejacket, and full-style. As long as the lifejacket does not irritate you while you are paddling, you will keep it on and stay safe.

How to Stand Up Paddle Board

Now for the fun part, learning how to stand up paddleboard properly. It is much easier than it looks and it just takes a bit of practice to get comfortable. 

How to Get on the Board

  1. Place your board about knee-deep in the water so that the fin is not scratching the ground
  2. Approach the board from the side, with your paddle laying lengthwise alongside the board
  3. Making sure you are facing the right way, (fin in the back) place one knee on the board, then kneel with both knees in the center of the board
  4. Grab your paddle, and start paddling forwards
  5. Once you feel comfortable, you can place your hands down on the board and slowly get up to your feet
  6. Keep your feet parallel at shoulder-width apart, with your feet pointed directly ahead. 
  7. Keep your core engaged the entire time for more assured balance

How to Paddle Properly

  1. Hold the paddle with one hand at the top, in the grip, and the other hand along the side
  2. The wider the grip, the more power you will have in your stroke
  3. Paddle straight back for more streamlined boarding, in the end, finish with a “J-stroke” to lift the paddle back out of the water
  4. Use your larger back muscles to do the paddling, while keeping your torso upright and your core engaged
  5. As you begin to understand how the paddleboard moved with your strokes, you will create a pattern with how to switch sides with the paddle. Ideally, it is about 3-4 paddles per side
  6. To turn around, reach the paddle out from the side of the board and paddle in a “C” curve to rotate the board
  7. To stop the board, simply either paddle backward or stick the paddle in the water without paddling. 
  8. Smile!

Paddleboarding is all about trial and error, and playing around until you find that sweet spot that works well for you. If you feel nervous, you can always stay on your knees or sit down and paddle the board like a kayak.

Learn More Paddleboarding Tips 

There you have it! A simple and straightforward guide on how to stand up paddle board with confidence. Follow these tips and you will become comfortable and paddle like a pro in no time.

To learn more tips like these, or other fun water sports guides, check out the outdoor adventure section of our blog!  

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