Stand Up Paddle Board Tips and Tricks: 15 Helpful Tips
Stand up paddleboarding is a lot of fun. However, to enjoy yourself fully, you need to know several stand up paddle board tips and tricks. That way, you will not only have crazy fun, but you will also be safe.
Apart from choosing the right SUP accessories, including a Type III life jacket, there are more rules, some unspoken (yes, like the 4 golden rules I will show you), and some just common knowledge.
If you follow these tips and tricks, you will turn from amateur to pro in no time at all.
15 Stand up paddle board tips and tricks
Once you have learned the basics of stand up paddle boarding, the fun never stops. However, to help you along, you need to master these paddle board tips and tricks.
1. Your board is your vessel – Choose the right paddle board
If you were choosing a boat or a kayak, you sure would not pick the first one that you come across. Perhaps you want a pontoon boat, or a yacht…
The same applies to selecting a stand up paddle board. They are very different. Some are made of fiberglass. Some are made of solid wood, and yet others are inflatable by design.
Some boards are narrow and long for speed, some are wide and short for stability.
As a beginner, pick a short and wide board. Stability is what matters most when you are getting started in SUP.
2. Wear your gear – It keeps your safe
As a beginner, one of the paddleboarding tips that you must bear in mind is to always gear up. First, you should wear a personal flotation device (vest). Make sure you get a U.S.C.G-approved life jacket.
Second, you should wear a helmet if the waters are a bit wild or there are waves. A wetsuit is good for the cold season, as is a pair of snorkeling shoes for rocky waters.
3. Choose the right paddle – It is your board’s motor
This is one of the top SUP tips and techniques. The board is the vessel and the paddle is the motor that drives the board.
When choosing a paddle, just make sure that the one you go for is 10 inches taller than your height.
4. The leash is your safety belt – get the right one!
You have the vessel, you have the engine that drives the vessel. Now, you need the right leash.
This one goes around your leg with a clip. It must be long enough to allow you to fall far away from the board, if you fall, and still keep you and the board attached.
5. Start small – you can go pro later
By starting small, I mean the following:
- Start by stand up paddleboarding in calm water in a lagoon. You can always try the ocean and rivers later
- Paddle board for a short time; do not tire yourself too much
- Try the morning hours when you are fresh
6. Learn how to fall correctly
You will fall off the board several times as you learn to SUP. Even when you have some skill under your belt, you will fall!
However, there is the correct way to fall, into the water and away from the board. That way, you will not hurt yourself.
Falling the right way is one of the most important SUP tips and techniques.
7. Learn how to use your knees
To learn to SUP is to learn how to use your knees. The knees will help you to keep your balance on the board. Therefore, learn the right knee stance.
8. Learn how to get up on a paddle board
Before you can learn how to paddle board, you need to know how to climb on a board. Believe it or not, learning how to get on a paddle board is an art, a whole skill to itself.
9. Know where to stand on paddle board
This list of stand up paddleboarding tricks cannot be complete if we do not tell you where to stand on the board.
Now, on the board, you have to stand at the right place, perfectly! If you stand further back or ahead than you should, you will tip the nose or the tail of the board into the water.
If you stand on one side of the board, you will tip it over.
So, stand in the middle of the paddle board.
10. Do not stand up paddle board bare-back
You have seen the pictures of guys paddleboarding without a shirt or a vest on their back. And you think it looks so cool. However, what is even more real is a serious sunburn.
Do wear something! It will also protect you from the cold. Just do not make it cotton or other natural fiber because it will absorb too much water. Synthetic fibers are the way to go.
11. Keep your eyes off your feet
As you learn how to SUP, you will be tempted to keep looking at your feet, perhaps to see whether they are still intact on the board.
Don’t worry, they are! Avoid looking at the feet because the moving board will make you apprehensive. Keep your eyes on the water and the distance.
Taking your eyes off the place you want to go will prevent you from paddling your SUP in a straight line.
12. Keep the paddle loose but secure in your arms
Just as a learner driver grips the steering wheel too hard, even a beginner SUP learner keeps a tight grip on the paddle. This affects their paddling ability. If your grip on the paddle is too tight, you will tire fast.
To help you retrieve your paddle when it falls into the water, read my article on how to make SUP paddle float.
13. Know how to turn your board
This is very simple, really. In addition, it is one of the most important SUP surfing tips. For instance, to turn to the left, just put the paddle in the water on the left of the board and turn your upper body left. Do the vice versa to turn right.
14. Beat the fear
No matter how many stand up paddle board tips you learn today, if you do not beat the fear of the water, you will never learn any SUP technique.
You will never learn how to SUP. The only way to beat the fear is to focus on the prize, and keep practicing.
15. Know when you have done enough for the day
When engaging in paddleboarding for beginners, you might be carried away and keep going, until you have no energy to paddle back to the shore.
Therefore, listen to your body. If you feel tired, take a break. You can always come back the following day.
Finally, keep practicing how to balance on a paddle board, how to stand up, how to get back on after falling, how to steer or tun the SUP and so on.
Eventually, you will become skilled, and you can then start building your speed. That is where the real fun is!
What are the four golden rules of getting on your SUP?
Every sport has its unique rules, that is, apart from the regular rules for safety, dressing, and so on. Here, I will show you the four golden rules of paddleboarding that will enable you to paddle like a real pro:
Golden rule 1: Paddle blade firmly in the water
Plant the blade in the water fully and firmly, before you start pulling. You have to do this for every stroke that you take to propel the board forward.
This stance packs the most power into the blade and makes your work easier. It also keeps you stable because you now have contact with the water in addition to the board.
Golden rule 2: Maintaining the ready position when pulling the paddle
The ready position is keeping your feet apart, at the same width as your shoulders. You also have to keep the torso straight and your knees must be slightly bent.
The bent knee stance turns your legs into shock absorbers, makes you flexible rather than statue-solid, and helps you to maintain your balance on the SUP board easily.
Remember, paddleboarding works out all muscle groups in the body, including the core. Adopting this stance engages the core muscles fully, and it gives them a sound workout.
Golden rule 3: Must use the core muscles when paddling
There are three main muscle groups that power your paddling. These are the arms, the core/abs, and the legs.
The arms do most of the work, obviously, while the legs do the balancing and stability act. Now, you have to engage the core muscles because without them, you are not going to make your paddle pulls powerful enough.
With every pull, you should feel the core muscles engaging properly.
Golden rule 4: Keep the board quiet on the water
If your board is making splashing and other noises on the water, it means it is not efficient. It is a glider, so when it is making noise, it means there is too much friction, and you will need to use more strength to keep it moving.
To keep the board quiet, you need to engage the feet muscles more, so that you are planted firmly on the SUP. This also improves your balance, and ultimately, your confidence on the water.
Should you bend your knees when paddle boarding?
The third golden rule of paddle boarding is to keep the torso (back) straight, and to bend your knees slightly.
The reason for bending the knees is to make them your shock absorbers. So they need to be flexible rather than solid and firm.
You bend the knees to help you maintain your balance on the board. This prevents the instances of falling over into the water. It also prevents the board from tipping forwards or backwards.
To some extent, bent knees also prevent shaky legs after paddle boarding, and it can also help you to engage the core more when pulling the SUP paddle.
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When you can stand up on the SUP board, well, try to have as much fun as you can. It is not only about the rules and regulations. Paddling is about having crazy fun on the water, and the challenges multiply the fun.
Once you are over the beginner paddle boarding stage, you need to move on to building your racing skill on a longer and narrow board.