How to correctly paddle on a SUP board
How to learn to Stand Up Paddle
Note:For the purposes of this guide, we will sometimes use the term “SUP” to refer to Stand Up Paddling. Please notice that this sport is also know as “paddle boarding” and “paddle surfing”.
The SUP boarding sport is a fun and easy way of entertainment on the water. To learn to Stand Up Paddle, all you need is a simple equipment set and you can surf everywhere: from oceans to lakes and from rivers to city canals, you don’t even need waves. Stand Up Paddling is a way of living healthier life and is a medically approved therapeutic method. It is also a very useful additional exercise for athletes of various sports. Since the SUP board is paddled while standing up, one can enjoy a great view both of the water and of the horizon. It’s like walking on water!
To learn to Stand Up Paddle and to enjoy this recreational activity you only need few things: an ironing board and a shovel.
Well, in reality you will need:
• The SUP board (or paddle board): It’s the most important investment (although you may rent the board). The design of a SUP board depends on the surfer’s weight, his/her experience, and type of the surfing environment. More experienced surfers may select narrower boards. It’s recommended that beginners use wider and flatter boards – they are more stable.
• Paddle: paddles are manufactured with a curved blade to maximize its effectiveness. It’s recommended to choose paddles which are 15 to 20 cm longer than your own height.
• Personal flotation device: okay…okay, it‘s a simple safety vest – sometimes it might come handy!
• Wardrobe: in cold weather conditions, and where there might be danger of hypothermia, a dry suit or wetsuit is seriously recommended. In other cases, any apparel suitable for the water– shorts or a swimming suit – would suffice.
• Sun protection: sunglasses, baseball cap and sun screen lotion.
To learn to Stand Up Paddle (or paddle boarding), it’s recommended that the beginner kneels first, rather than standing right up. Some tips for a good start:
• While standing by the SUP board, lay your paddle across the board so that the paddle blade is on the water like the outrigger of a catamaran. Some board models may have paddle holders.
• Hold the shaft of a paddle with one hand on the handle.
• Climb the board by kneeling right along its centre.
• While kneeling, try to keep the board balanced: the front should not be sticking out above water, and the rear of the board should not be submerged.
• Keep you palms on both sides of the board, this way you will be able to stabilize it more easily.
• When you feel ready, slowly rise, lifting each leg separately so that your feet take end up where your knees were.
• If you are assisted by a friend, ask them to get in the water and hold the board for you.
On the water
Some advice on how to maintain your balance on a SUP board while you learn to Stand Up Paddle.
• Your feet must be placed parallel, apart from each other about the distance of your hips at the centre of the board. Do not stand on the edges.
• Your toes must be straight, knees slightly bent and your back upright.
• On the board, keep yourself balanced using your thighs rather than your entire body.
• Keep your head and shoulders firm and straight, balancing your weight by moving your thighs.
• Keep your line of vision on the horizon, resisting the temptation to look down to your feet.
• It’s like riding a bicycle: the faster you go, the more stable the board will be.
Stand up paddling
You have already learnt to maintain balance on a SUP board, so now it’s time for the fun to start – let’s get on with an actual trip!
Several tips on correct paddling:
• If you paddle on the right side, your right hand should be placed lower on the paddle shaft. Your upper (left) hand should be on the paddle handle. The paddle blade curve must face away from you.
• Keep your hands straight and turn you waist when paddling. Try not to use the power of your hands since the body muscles are considerably stronger.
• Push the paddle handle downwards.
•Fully submerge paddle blade, push it towards your ankle, and then take it out of the water.
• At the beginning, paddle using short strokes, keeping the blade close to the edge of the board – there is no need to use a lot of force. Short strokes should allow you to surf straight.
• In order to surf relatively straight, you need to do 4-5 paddle strokes on each side of the board. When shifting sides, also shift the position of your hands.
There are several ways how to simply turn your SUP board around:
• The simplest way to turn around is to paddle on one side until your board makes a U-turn. If you want to turn right – paddle on the left side, if you want to turn left – paddle on the right side.
• A faster way to turn your board around is by paddling on the opposite direction, moving the paddle blade backwards rather than forwards.
• C- shaped stroke: submerge the paddle blade by the front of the board and using a wide and deep motion, like drawing the letter C under the water, move the blade towards the rear end of the board.
Oh! You slipped!
It is not too complicated to learn to Stand Up Paddle. However, it is possible that while you are learning you will fall into the water. So, be ready for this adventure:
• When falling, try to shift your weight so that you fall into the water rather than onto the board – this will decrease the probability of injury.
• If both your paddle and your board have drifted away (this can be avoided by fastening the board to your leg with a string and a bangle), first get your board back, and then paddle with your hands to retrieve the paddle.
The most common beginner mistakes
• Humping. Keep your back straight at shoulder level.
• Staring at one’s feet rather than the horizon.
• Incorrect handling of the paddle. The curve of the blade must be facing forward.
• Holding both hands on the shaft. The top hand must be holding the handle.
• Standing up straight is incorrect. Knees must be bent for easier balancing of the board.
I’ve learnt it! What’s next?
Since you have already managed the essentials, there are no limits to your aquatic adventures! Play with the waves, work on your turns, learn more sophisticated strokes and perhaps, after some practice, you might opt for a narrower and more manoeuvrable stand up board…
But for now, just grab your SUP board and off you go!
Lessons in stand up paddle boarding: correct stand up paddling, on board standing position, manoeuvring the board.
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