Knots Made Simple
April 7, 2020

Top Tips For Beginner Stand Up Paddleboarders

As a SUP Instructor who can't currently teach SUP I’ve decided to draw on my creative side.

When we can't get out to practice the sports we love we have to discover how to do this in a different way. A way that will remind us of why we love the sport and keep us ready to ride as soon as its safe to do so.

I wanted to share with you some key pointers we typically cover during a beginner SUP session. Specifically thinking about getting ready to get out on the water, standing up, how to improve your balance and how to stay safe. I hope this can spark some ideas of how you can stay involved with paddleboarding whilst stuck in your houses and gardens.  

A key component to learning any sport is muscle memory, this comes through practice and repetition. Over the weeks I will be going over some techniques for you to try at home and some suggestions on moves to practice and exercises for you to look into.  

 

Getting Started 

  • Leash - Whether you have opted for coiled or straight, around your ankle or knee, always make sure you have your leash on before heading on to the water.
  • Carrying the board - In the centre of most boards you will either have a handle or an indent for your fingers. Be aware of where the wind is coming from, even in a light breeze it will cause your board to swing around. It's easier to carry your board if you try to stay upwind of it.
  • Getting on - Always start by kneeling in the centre of your board, right over the handle with the paddle across the board for added stability. 
  • Paddling on your knees - You should find it easier if you hold the paddle much lower on the shaft. Try to keep a similar grip to how you would normally hold it and paddle in the same way.
  • Heading out - Take note of the depth of the water when heading out. I always recommend getting on your board when you are in at least knee depth of water. This will be the time when you are most at risk of a twisted ankle! Try out a few turns, stay on your knees and get comfortable being on the board. Before attempting to stand always check the water depth with your paddle, try to be in at least waist depth water.

Standing Up 

  • Feet position - Aim to have your feet either side of the centre handle, about shoulder width apart. 
  • Weight distribution - Keep the weight going down equally through your feet as you stand up. This is where your likely to tip yourself in if you are a bit heavy footed.
  • Eyes- Keep looking up as you are standing up, this will help to keep your centre of balance.
  • Paddling - Start paddling as soon as you can to help with your stability.
 

Balance 

  • Don’t look down - As in most sports, where you look is where you will go. Try to avoid checking what your feet are doing and keep your eyes on the horizon.
  • Legs - Keep your feet planted flat. Evenly distribute your weight and keep your knees soft. You will quickly start to ache if you are too locked up. Try and gently shift your weight side to side to wobble the board to help loosen up.
  • Paddle - Your paddle can be a great way to make sure you stay on the board. If you think you might be about to fall then dig your paddle in and keep yourself moving. This is even more essential if some rogue boat wake is heading your way.

Safety 

  • Prone Paddling - If the wind is picking up and you are still working on your paddle technique it can be easier to prone paddle. Lay flat on the board with your paddle flat under your chest and swim your way back in to the beach.
  • Falling safel- If you feel that you’re about to go in then try and keep your paddle up and away from you. You can never be sure of the depth so always fall flat on your back like a starfish to avoid hurting yourself in shallow water.
  • Leash - With your leash securely strapped around your leg you will always be attached to your life raft. If you do fall in there's no need to panic. The board will come to you with one kick of your leg and, because of the leash, should usually be within arms reach for you to hold on to and have a rest.
  • Returning to shore - After a great session on the water the last thing you want to do is embarrass yourself in the final few seconds. When you are about 10 - 20 metres from the beach its time to pop back onto your knees. This will ensure that if/when you hit the beach you wont go flying forward and possibly hurt yourself and your pride.