SUP Beginner Tips

Like every other activity getting the basics of Sup right will take you some time. All you’ve got to do is have some patience and stick through the rough patches and soon you’ll just be enjoying the sun, the surf and the wind in your hair. Meanwhile, get to the water and practice these few tricks to get it all in your control:

  • Practice on Ground: Before you venture out take some time and get the feel of the board on solid ground. Remove your center fin and find balance and confidence in your pop-up, but make sure to use a gentle and even surface like sand or grass.

Once on the water:

  1. Start on your knees in the center of the board.
  2. Take a few fake paddle motions you’ll need to gain a bit of speed.
  3. Place your hands on the board under your shoulders and your paddle shaft under your palms.
  4. While looking at the horizon, move your left foot up on the board so your knee moves toward your armpit.
  5. Keeping pressure on your hands, move your right foot up so your feet become shoulder-width apart.
  6. Stand up as quickly as you can while maintaining equal balance on both feet over the center carry handle of your board, shoulder-width apart with your hips facing the front of your board.
  7. Smile and start paddling.

Pro Tip: Just as it’s easier to balance on a bicycle that’s moving, it’s easier to stand up on a paddle board that’s moving. Take a few strong paddles on each side of your board before your pop-up.

  • Launch your boat from an easy point: Your first time round launch your board from a soft beach into gentle waters. While intermediate paddlers will have no trouble launching from docks or rock-covered beaches, beginners should have a few trips under their name till they can try that.
  1. Walk into the water until you’re almost knee-deep.
  2. Get onto the center of the board on your needs, making sure your center fin remains clear of the ground. If your fin isn’t clear of the ground, take a few more steps into the water and try again.
  3. Take a couple of strong paddles on both sides to pick up some speed.
  4. Focus on the horizon ahead and stand up just how you practiced on firm ground.
  • Holding your paddle the right way: First thing to do is to adjust your paddle length so it’s 3-4 inches taller than you. The correct way to hold your paddle is with the angle of the blade to the front of your board. If you have an ISLE SUP paddle, you’ll want the logo facing the front of the board. It’s important to get some distance between your hands for the most efficient paddle stroke as well, keeping one hand on the top of the paddle and the other hand lower on the shaft. Follow the steps below to find exactly where to place your hand on the shaft.
  1. Holding the end grip with your right hand, raise your paddle over your head so it’s parallel with your shoulders.
  2. Adjust your position until your right forearm is vertical between your right hand and elbow.
  3. Grab your paddle shaft with your left hand and adjust until you create another vertical line between your left hand and elbow.
  4. Keep this hand position while you paddle, switching hands when paddling on each side of your board.
  • Practice falling away from your Board: You might not fall off your board even on your first trip but there is always the possibility of you going for a swim. However, if you do find yourself losing your balance, do your best to fall away from the board as a hard thing beneath you can turn into a hazard. And because you would never attempt to paddle board without your trusty SUP leash, you never have to worry about losing your board during a fall.
  1. Always attempt to fall flat on the water, much like a belly or back flop, to keep yourself from being injured by anything hiding below the surface of the water.
  • Practice getting back on the board again: Having the confidence to get back on your board in deep water will alleviate any fear you might have about falling in. If you’re worried about getting on your board in deeper water, practice in waist-deep water to build your confidence.
  1. While treading water next to your board, place your paddle on your board.
  2. Grab your carry handle with one hand.
  3. Grab the side of the board (or rail) farthest from your body with your other hand.
  4. Kick your legs while pulling with both arms, and slide your body onto your board.

Pro Tip: Two pieces of essential equipment for beginners:

  1. Always wear a SUP leash to make sure you’re never more than a few feet away from your board. While we recommend that every SUP rider wear their leash, this bit of advice is especially important for first-time paddlers.
  2. Always wear your Coast Guard-mandated personal flotation device. While the USCG does not require adults paddling in “surfing, swimming, or bathing areas” to wear a life jacket, begging paddlers should play it safe by wearing a SUP life jacket no matter where they paddle.
Written by William Lester