Using a Stand-up paddleboard is not difficult, but if you are new to the activity, you may find these tips helpful:
Mounting the Board
Place the board in shallow water. While holding onto the side of the rails pop your knees onto the board. Once you find your center of balance you can make your way to your feet. If you’re not comfortable with standing up paddle around on your knees until you gain a little bit of confidence.
If you fall off, face the side of your board (you’re perpendicular with it) and crawl back on. It’s surprisingly stable when mounting it from the side. Don’t try and mount it from the rear or the front, it’s possible to snake your way up, but more often than not you’ll flip the board.
Basic Paddle Board Techniques
You’ve made it from your knees to your feet and now it’s time to paddle.
Unless you have skied, the correct posture may feel a little bit weird. Stand on your board with feet shoulder width apart, with your knees slightly bent. Your feet should be parallel to one another and you shouldn’t be standing too close to the edges.
As you gain momentum balancing on your board will become easier. One common mistake is being so tentative that you don’t pick up any speed. This is a recipe for disaster.
Finally, when you’re paddling it’s like driving a car – you don’t want to be staring directly in front of you. First off, it’s awful for your balance, and like driving a car, you’ll find yourself making tiny corrections all the time. Have you ever driven behind someone who constantly seems to be shifting back and forth between the lines? That clown is probably staring at his/her toes while they drive.
When you’re paddling you want your paddle to remain as upright as possible. Obviously, it’s not going to be perfectly vertical but it should be pretty close. There are a couple of things you can do to achieve this.
- Be aware that the paddle should be upright and not off to a 45 degree angle. At first it will feel more difficult to paddle this way.
- As you’re paddling shift your weight ever so slightly to the side your paddling on. Let’s say you’re paddling on the right side you want your right rail to be lower than your left rail. This will allow you to get nice and snug to the boards edge, which in turn will allow you to maintain a very straight paddle.
- Use a paddle that is the correct size for you.
A few pointers regarding the paddle
You should be holding the blade so it slopes AWAY from you.
In the bottom picture, the top should be pointing in the direction you’re heading. It seems counter intuitive but they’re intended to be used in that manner.
How To Turn On A Paddle Board
So you’ve mastered the basic stroke and now you want to turn it on a dime. You can do it the long way which is simply to use a side stroke. Instead of alternating strokes on either side you’ll want to stroke on the opposite side of the direction you want to turn.
Instead of pulling straight back pull back and away from your body. This help to drive the SUP around in a circle.
The back stroke is slightly more advanced than the side stroke but it’s still relatively easy.
To perform this, pick up some speed and drop your paddle on the same side that you want to turn in. As you start to slow down begin stroking from just behind your heels stopping in front of your toes. This will allow you to turn in a tighter circle.
Once you’re the majority of the way around – 120 degrees or so, switch sides and use the side stroke to finish the turn. This way you won’t overshoot the turn and you’ll have your momentum moving in the right direction.
A pivot turn will allow you to turn your paddle board a dime. This technique will literally let you spin the board (very quickly I might add) while you’re basically standing still.
The pivot is also the most advanced turning technique and can be difficult to master without a little bit of practice. Start by figuring out which way you would ride if you were surfing or snowboarding. If you’re goofy footed it means you have your right foot forward, while regular is left foot forward. If you’re not sure try each style out, one of the styles will be way more comfortable then the other.
Once you’ve established which way you ride, stop stroking and shift your left (or right) foot forward on the board. Once you’re setup in a surfers stance start to slide toward the back of your board. You want as much as the nose to pop out of the water as possible.
Start stroking on the opposite side that you want to turn in.
The most important thing to always remember when you’re trying to turn on a paddle board is to keep the strokes short and quick. It doesn’t matter which style you’re using the stokes should always be short with a quick cadence.