General Tips for Paddle Boarding Rookies 

Couple rowing

Paddle boards come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. The most common construction and shape is a fiberglass planning hull board. But inflatable paddle boards have been gaining more attention these days, mainly because they’re a more affordable option and they’re actually easier to repair compared to a costly epoxy and fiberglass board. If you’re new to paddle boarding, then our stand up paddle boarding tips will teach you a few things that can help you get started with one of the fastest growing watersports in the world. 

Our Top Tip: In order to get the most out of your next paddle boarding experience, it’s important to choose the right board based on your weight and height. Check out a board’s specs before you buy, so you’ll be sure to get a board that’s a perfect fit for you.

Learning the Basics 

Top-quality paddle boards are much thicker than the average surfboard. These boards usually range from eight to twelve feet in length, with a width of twenty-eight to thirty-two inches, and they’re around five or six inches thick.

If you’re a newbie, the best option is usually a longer, thicker, wider board. These boards will offer the most stability, which makes them a great option if you’re in need of a solid board you can learn the basics on. 

If you’re having a tough time finding the perfect paddle board, click here to check out our epic buyer’s guide where you’ll find several leading models. 

Carrying Your Board

If you have a compact car, then you’ll probably want to wait until you get to your destination before you inflate your board. If you have a roof rack or trailer, you can air your board up at home. We recommend choosing an electric pump for a faster inflation time, however, a small, compact, hand pump will work fine as well. 

Once you get to the beach or river, you’ll need to get your massive board from your vehicle, into the water. Inflatable models are much lighter compared to hard boards, but they can still be difficult to handle. 

The shoulder carry is the standard method used to get a board into the water. Grabbing a paddle in one hand you can lift your board with the nose on the ground while lifting the tail. Next, walk to the center of the board, shifting its weight back in order to balance it on your head. Next, shift the board in order to balance it on your shoulder. Just follow these steps in reverse to lay it back down. 

If you’re lucky enough to buy a board with built-in handles, such as the Atoll 11′ Foot Inflatable SUP, then you can simply use the handles to easily get your board in and out of the water. 

Basic Techniques for SUP Beginners 

couple paddling

The first step is choosing a stable board, one that’s around eleven feet long and thirty inches wide. If you’re not very comfortable on your board, it’s best to practice in flat, calm water. 

Your new board should feel comfortable and stable when you stand up. If it doesn’t feel stable after you’ve tried to gain your balance several times, you may need to buy a wider model. 

Most people tend to begin with a board that’s way too small, and they’re never able to gain their balance, which can really take the motivation out of learning how to paddle board. Don’t let this happen to you. To learn how to pick out the right paddle board, read our article on what size standard paddle board is right for you. And when in doubt, always go for a model that’s thicker and wider. 

Additionally, taking your time and reading paddle board reviews when you’re shopping for a new board will really help you to narrow down your choices and find the perfect board based on your skill level, height, and weight.

Paddle Holding Techniques 

Make sure you always grip the paddle with one hand placed towards the center of the shaft and the other hand on top of the paddle. The paddle should be held in front of you, while keeping your elbows just slightly bent. This will give you a comfortable amount of paddling space. 

When you’re paddling, remember to keep the angled blade facing away from you. Don’t worry too much about dropping the paddle in the water. These paddles are designed to float, so if you do drop it, it’s not going to sink. 

Standing Up on Your SUP

Like we mentioned earlier, always begin by practicing in flat, calm water. Keep in mind that you’re going to fall quite a bit in the beginning. If the water temp is cold, make sure you buy a wetsuit. 

Now, you’re ready to get started. 

Begin by taking your board into knee deep water to make sure the fin doesn’t hit the bottom. Start off on your knees, making a few strokes on each sides of the board until you’re in water that’s about five feet deep. This will prevent you from touching the bottom if you fall. Stand up slowly with one foot at a time, staying in the middle of the board. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and parallel to the stringer. 

The knees should be slightly bent, and your core should be centered over the board.

Basic Paddle Boarding Strokes

When it comes to paddling techniques for SUPs, there are a few basic philosophies, but most will revolve around using the paddle as a lever. The bottom hand acts as the fulcrum point while the top hand drives the lever. With this in mind, follow these paddling techniques:

  • In order to extend the paddle forward, pull your top arm toward your body
  • Your bottom arm must remain relatively still and straight 
  • The paddle should be placed as far forward in the water as possible. 
  • Instead of pulling the paddle through the water, visualize pulling it past the paddle board.
  • Guide the board in a straight line, using a few strokes on one side, then paddle a few strokes on the opposite side. 
  • Remember to switch the position of your hands each time you change sides. 

Forward Sweep Stroke

Basic Paddle Boarding Strokes 

In order to make a left-hand turn, put the paddle on the right side of the board. During this time, you’ll turn your torso to the left. 

Pull to the right while keeping a low stance. As you pull the board to the right, lean your torso and twist to the left. You should feel the board quickly shift to the left. 

Reverse Sweep Stroke 

To go right, put the paddle near the tail of the board, pulling toward the nose as you shift your torso to the right. This spins the nose of the board to the right.

How to Perfect Your Stroke

With paddle boarding, the right technique can be crucial, in fact, many pros believe that using the proper paddling technique is the key to mastering paddle boarding.

If you’ve followed our paddling techniques and still don’t think you have it down, the following tips can help to perfect your stroke and improve your boarding experience.

Paddle Size

Before you hit the water with your new board, you need to find the perfect paddle. This means a paddle that’s the right length for you, based on your height. The paddle should also have the right blade size. If you use a paddle that’s too short or too long it can negatively affect your performance and can even cause you to fall off your board. If you’re not sure what size paddle to go with, check out the manufacturer’s sizing charts.

Using The Right Posture

For a more stable performance, you need to use the proper posture. The back should remain straight since a straight stance can improve stability. Remember, it’s more about bending the legs than bending the back.

Grip

Avoid holding the paddle too tightly. Using a loose grip can help improve your reach and can even help you conserve your energy.

Reach Per Stroke

Improved reach per stroke is another key to a great paddling technique. In order to get a better reach try using your legs and core to dig down deep to cover a few more inches. This means increasing your arm extension and using your body weight with each stroke in order to get more leverage and cover more ground.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to paddle around on your new board can be exciting, challenging, and a little scary at times, in choppy water. But it can also be a fun and rewarding experience that will quickly whip you into shape, boost your metabolism, build more muscle, and having you burning calories like you wouldn’t believe.

Beginners definitely have a lot to learn when it comes to posture, balance, stroke techniques, and even how to correctly carry a paddle board. We hope our top tips for paddle boarding will give you an edge and the confidence you need to keep at it until you’re more comfortable out on the water.