How to Paddle Board: A Guide for Beginners

Are you interested in an activity that immerses you in the beauty of the outdoors, provides a full-body workout, improves your balance and flexibility, is simple to learn, can be done alone or with others, and is a heckuva lot of fun to boot? You’re in luck — stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is the perfect sport for you!

The first step in achieving these benefits, of course, is learning how to paddleboard. Let’s take a closer look at this increasingly popular board sport!

First, Gather Your Gear

Paddle boards come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. As you advance as a paddle boarder, you will learn which boards you feel most comfortable on. For beginners, the best stand up paddle board is probably going to be an all-around board that is, at minimum, 10’6 long and 31″ wide.

The other crucial item for paddle boarding is, of course, a paddle. They are generally adjustable, so make sure you use one that is appropriate for your height.

Savvy boarders use a leash that attaches the board to their ankles. Without it, you and your board might drift apart from one another if you happen to fall in the drink. A personal floatation device will keep you safe in that same situation; never go boarding without one.

Next, Learn How to Paddle Board

It’s a good idea to take lessons, either from a professional boarder or an experienced friend. However, there are some basic tips to keep in mind as you’re starting out.

Use the center handle to carry your board into the water. Once you are knee-deep, place it on the water’s surface. Put your paddle across it, then sit on the board. From there, come to a kneeling position. Stay on your knees until you feel confident, comfortable, and balanced.

As soon as you stand, paddle a few times to gather momentum. It’s a little like learning how to ride a bike — the slower you pedaled, the more wobbly the bike would be. A little speed helps you stay balanced in board sports, too.

It’s critical to lower your center of balance and maintain a proper stance. Your feet should be parallel and a hip-width apart. Point your toes straight ahead and bend your knees slightly. Make no mistake, this sport is going to challenge your core strength. Activating those muscles is key to remaining upright and on the board!

The more you work on improving your balance and strengthening your core when you’re on dry land, the better you’ll be at paddle boarding.

Learn How to Fall

As with any sport that requires balance, it’s not a matter of if you’ll fall when you’re paddling; it’s when. As soon as you feel yourself losing balance and beginning to topple, do your best to propel yourself away from the board. If possible, fall butt-first into the water, to avoid hitting your head on whatever might be lurking in the water. Hang on to your paddle, and slice the blade into the water rather than letting it slap the surface, which can lead to injury.

Ready to Give SUP a Try?

As you can imagine, these tips barely scratch the surface of paddleboarding basics, let alone advanced techniques. But honestly, the best way to learn how to paddle board is to get out on the water and, well, dive right in!

Ever wanted to give SUP a try? Have you dipped your toe into the water yet? Let us know in the comments!