How hard could it be? Standing on a big board with one paddle out in the water seems simple enough, but in reality, it is a lot harder than it looks. If you are looking to try your hand at paddleboarding or want to sharpen your skills, we have a comprehensive guide to get you up and paddling.
Tip #1: Size Your Paddle Correctly
The length of the paddle is a vital part of a successful SUP session. Each paddle is adjustable in order to fit various heights of people. There is a simple procedure to determine the correct paddle length for your height on your own. All you need to do is make the ‘hang loose’ or ‘shaka’ sign with one hand. Place the thumb of said hand upon your head so that your pinky is sticking straight up from your head. Adjust your paddle to the height that your pinky reaches above your head and there you go! If that is too complex, just take your height and add about 6 inches and that is the length your paddle should be set at. When you rent a board from a shop, they will help you to set your paddle length at the appropriate length.
Tip #2: Center Your Feet
Paddleboards are massive pieces of equipment. Without experience, it is hard to determine where to stand on the board. It has everything to do with balance. Most boards have a handle for carrying to and from the water. This handle is a great place to center your weight on the board. Even if you are unable to get to your feet, the handle is the place to center yourself even on your knees. Ideally, you should have one foot on each side of the handle. This part of the board is centered both horizontally and vertically and is the widest part. Every movement you make on the board should be based out of the spot. Again, this is much easier said than done, but if your weight is here to start with it will be easier to stay on your board.
Tip #3: Engage Your Core
It is all about the core. Paddleboarding requires you to engage every muscle in your core. Balance itself relies on the core almost solely. In order to both balance on the board and paddle effectively, one must engage their abs, obliques, glutes, and their respective supporting muscles. Sometimes, it is hard to tell whether you are using the right muscles. One way to recognize if you aren’t engaging your core is if you find yourself arching your back or hunching over on the board. It is difficult, but try to stand in an athletic position while on the board: slight bend in the knees, shoulders down, and stomach taut.
Tip #4: Choose a Location Wisely
Location, Location, Location! Where you decide to take your board out can greatly affect your experience on the water. Even within a body of water, where you choose to paddle is important. It all boils down to knowing your capabilities. If you are not completely comfortable on your board, we recommend calm waters along the shoreline. As you sharpen your skills and become more comfortable, you can venture out to more open, rough, and fast waters. No matter what your skill level is, you should always either wear a life jacket or have one strapped to your board.
We hope this helps you with your next paddleboarding adventure. If you have additional questions, stop by your local paddle shop!