If you’ve never been paddleboarding before, you might assume that it will be an extremely easy sport to get into. While it is true that paddleboarding is easier than surfing and many other water sports, there’s still a slight learning curve to get past, especially if you’re going to be doing stand up paddleboarding. However, without the right guidance, you might wind up being one of those people who gives up and says “this just isn’t for me” after a full day of not being able to stand up on the board successfully. To help you avoid such an outcome, here are five tips that will help you have the best first paddleboarding experience possible:
1. Choose the Right Board
First and foremost, every beginner should choose a versatile stand up paddle board to make the learning process easier. Generally, it’s best for a novice to use a wide and long board with excellent surface grip. You may even want to check out a local board shop to get an idea of what kind of board you like the feel of before going online to find better deals.
2. Gather Adequate Momentum Before Standing Up
If your board is moving too slowly when you try to stand up and you’re not smooth with the motion of putting your first foot down, the side that you stand on first will start to sink and you could slip off into the water. The process of standing up has to be one fluid motion and your board should keep moving forward as you’re doing it. Standing up on a stagnant or very slow-moving board will be more challenging.
3. Stand in the Middle of the Board
Once you’re moving fast enough to stand up, the next step is to be precise about the placement of your feet. Standing too far towards the front of the board will cause you to topple forward, while standing too far back will cause the rear of your board to start sinking. Try to stand directly in the middle. After a few tries, you should a start to sense the location of your board’s center of balance. Once you know where to put your feet to stand up reliably, you can then try shuffling your feet to explore different stances, which will make navigating waves or currents easier.
4. Place Your Bottom Rowing Hand Halfway Down the Paddle
Once you’re standing up, rowing and steering become your main concerns. If your hands are too close together on the paddle, it will be difficult to generate rowing force and you may even wind up with sore wrists from using such an inefficient motion. Place your top rowing hand a few inches from the top of the paddle and your bottom rowing hand about halfway down.
5. Look Straight Ahead as You Stand Up
Looking down while standing up is another extremely common rookie mistake that’s easy to make because you’re trying to make sure you put your feet in the right place and keep the board steady. However, if your head or back is leaning forward to look down while you’re trying to stand up, you face a much higher chance of falling down. The key is to keep your back and neck straight with your head looking straight forward as you stand up. This will take some focused practice, as you’ll need to become familiar enough to put your feet down and carry out the standing motion without looking at the board and your feet.
Don’t Forget Steering!
Steering a paddleboard while standing up is very easy once you know how to do it. To go straight, keep the paddle close to the board and row in a linear, front-to-back motion. To turn, put the paddle in the water a couple feet away from the board and row in a semi-circular motion. With all of these tips in mind, you should be fully prepared to have a great first day paddleboarding.