Getting Started with Stand Up Paddling

OK!  You have decided that you are going to Rent a Stand Up Paddleboard from Island Paddleboard for your first time without taking a lesson.  No worries…Read on for some tips on how to get started!

Techniques: When you first get on the Paddleboard

When you’re a beginner, it’s easier to kneel on the board rather than to stand directly upright. Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Standing alongside the board, place your paddle across the deck of the board and use it as an outrigger. The paddle grip is on the rail (edge) of the board; the blade rests on the water.
  • Hold the board by the rails. One hand will also be holding the paddle grip.
  • Pop yourself onto the board into a kneeling position, just behind the center point of the board.
  • From that kneeling position, get a feel for the balance point of the board. The nose shouldn’t pop up out of the water and the tail shouldn’t dig in.
  • TIP: Use the handle that is in the center of the board as a guide. By keeping your knees on either side of the handle when you are kneeling, and your feet on either side of the handle when you are standing you will make sure to always be centered on the “balance point” of the board.
  • Keep your hands on either side of the board to stabilize it.

Once you’re ready, stand up on the board one foot at a time. Place your feet where your knees were. You might also bring a friend to wade out about knee-deep with your board. Have your friend stabilize the board as you get the hang of standing on it.

Techniques: On the Water

Paddleboarding Stance

A few tips to help you keep your balance as you stand upright on the paddleboard:

  • Your feet should be parallel, about hip-width distance apart, centered between the rails (board edges). Don’t stand on the rails.  Maintain a slight staggered stance with one foot slightly in front of the other.  This provides good front to back stability.
  • Keep toes pointed forward, knees bent and your back straight.
  • Balance with your hips—not your head.
  • Keep your head and shoulders steady and upright, and shift your weight by moving your hips.
  • Your gaze should be level at the horizon. Avoid the temptation to stare at your feet.
  • It’s not like riding a bike.  However, one thing that is the same is that when your forward momentum increases, your stability increases as well.

 

Paddleboarding Stroke

Once you’ve practiced balancing on the board in flat water, it’s time to take off on a paddleboarding excursion—where the real fun begins. Here are some pointers for getting started with the basic stroke.

  • If you’re paddling on the right, your right hand is lower and on the paddle shaft. Your top (left) hand is on the top of the grip.
  • The elbow (angle) of the paddle faces away from you.
  • Keep your arms straight and twist from your torso as you paddle. Think of using your torso to paddle rather than your arms. You have more strength in those abdominal muscles than in your arms.
  • Push down on the paddle grip with your top hand.
  • Plant the paddle by pushing the blade all the way under the surface, pull it back to your ankle, then out of the water.
  • When you’re beginning, keep your strokes fairly short and close alongside the board. No need to overpower it.
  • A small draw stroke at the beginning of the paddle stroke will keep you going forward.
  • To go in a reasonably straight line, paddle about 4 or 5 strokes on one side, then switch to the other.
  • When you switch sides, you’ll reverse hand positions.

 

Paddleboarding Turns

There are several straightforward ways to turn a paddleboard.

  • Sidestroke: One easy method to is simply to paddle on one side until the nose turns in the direction you want to go. Want to turn right? Paddle on the left. Headed to the left? Paddle on the right.
  • Backpaddle: Another fast way to turn or reverse direction is to simply drag the paddle or paddle backwards on either side of the board.
  • Sea (“c”) stroke: Plant your paddle towards the front of the board and take a long sweeping stroke towards the tail. This is sometimes called a sweep stroke.