Paddle Boarding for Beginners

Paddle Boarding for Beginners

Beginners Guide to Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Paddle boards are quite a bit larger than your typical surfboard. Lugging it around can be something that takes some getting used to, especially if you've been out of practice for a while or haven't been very active lately.  Here are some basic tips that can help make the usual transport a bit easier for a board you get that isn't inflatable. 

  • Handle Carry – By grasping the small handle generally installed at the center point of the board you can carry it to and from the water easily. Lift the board by the handle from the water and you can simply pull it out the water or you can transport the board from the car by the handle.

Paddle Board Carrier Grip

  • Car Racks – Attaching a paddle board isn't as daunting of a task as we mentally make it out to be. A paddle board can be strapped to any vehicle with existing car racks by strapping the board to the hard-rack. Or you can even attach your paddle board to standard surfboard soft racks just like you would attach a surfboard. Where's there a will there's a way, some people throw a towel on top of the car and even run straps through the car doors.

Getting Up on the board, Basic Strokes for Beginners

Make Sure to Select a Stable Paddle Board

Starting out what you typically want to use for most body sizes is a wide 2.5' by 11’ board to ensure maximum stability. Most importantly make sure to always start in calm, flat water and pay attention to your surroundings and find the best place to go paddle boarding.

Also, make sure you check the product description for the weight limit of the board to make sure it will fully support you. 

It is important that the board feels comfortable and stable when standing up. If at any point while getting on it feels unstable after several attempts to gain your balance, try a larger, wider paddle board.

It helps for many people to start paddling on your knees at first, and as you feel more comfortable to make your attempt to stand up on the board. 

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

A common mistake many people have starting out is choosing a board much too small, and never actually being able to gain balance, becoming disheartened, and giving up. That's what Jim did. Don't be like Jim. Choose the right size board to start out and when in doubt, always go wider and thicker, life's truest words. 

Picking the Right Size Paddle 

The right size paddle can make or break you. You want the paddle to be more of an extension of yourself where it feels fluid, smooth, comfortable in your hands, and not awkward in the least bit. Not as far as Wolverine with his blades, but just about.

A common rule of thumb is to choose a paddle, a "shaka" length, which is 5 to 7 inches, above your head for surfing when the paddle is lined up to your body, and 10 inches above your head for racing. 

Or if you're just going for a leisure paddle and going to be doing some general paddling a safe bet is to take your height and add 9 to 10 inches. 

Holding Your Paddle Right is One of the Most Important Steps for Mastering the Way of the Paddle

The proper way to hold the paddle is by taking a grip of the top of your paddle with one hand and gripping it firmly and by placing your other hand at the center of the shaft of the paddle. 

Hold the paddle directly in front of you, like your going to stir the potion in a cauldron and bend your elbow at a clean 90 degrees, just like the outside temperature, or maybe that's a different measurement. You're hot either way, so don't worry about it. It's all about the feel, and the motion of the ocean. This level of spacing between your hands is appropriate to ensure you get a good stroke through the water. 

If done properly the blade is at an irresistible angle facing away from you cutting through the water with the precision of a ninja, you paddle boardin' ninja. Be sure to always face the blade away from you, as if you were cutting down a gnarley tree. 

And don't worry paddles are built to float, so if you do fall, which you probably will and you must let it go, when you come back up it will floating right next to you.

How to Stand Up on your Paddle Board

As I mentioned before young padawan you are still only a beginner in your paddling infancy, you soon too will be a master and will outperform your teacher, keep in mind at first to make sure the water is calm and flat, you will fall, maybe not a lot, but it will happen. Just pick yourself up, and get back up there, you an't no quitter! You can't walk before you crawl. 

  • Make sure the water isn't too shallow so that the board's fins won't hit the bottom, you don't want to hit a ground 
  • Start out on your knees, get your head out the gutter, take a few strokes on each side of the board, get comfortable and try standing
  • When attempting to stand, start off slowly and stay in the middle of the board with your feet parallel to the stringer which is at the center of the board, you want your feet about shoulder width apart in your final stage for the best stability
  • Make sure to have a slight bend in those knees of yours and be sure to keep that core centered or should I say keep that 6-pack over the center of the board, you warrior

Basic Strokes: Forward Stokes for all the Folks

Now let's get a little philosophical, not like, "Are you the paddle boarder, or is the paddle boarder you?" or any other mind numbing existential life theory, but more like we all have a way of doing things, and our own set of techniques. You may find one style technique works much better for you than another. 

You want to use your paddle as a lever, but not like a lever on a slot machine, this isn't a gamble here, this is your life which is at risk and something you never want to gamble with. ok guys sorry to get so serious just making a point, when in the water you must be overly cautious, alert and aware of all your surroundings. 

When using this first technique your top hand located towards the top of the paddle acts as a driver for the lever and your bottom hand will act as the place that allows your paddle to pivot through the water. Here's a gif that will give you a good idea. Sometimes making it visual is easier. 

Paddle turning

So with that in mind, turn your eyes towards these stroking tips:

  • Keep your bottom arm straight and relatively still not like papa over here, nice and straight and mostly still, but remember you are not a statue, you are also human
  • Pull that top arm of yours towards your body to extend the paddle forward
  • Rotate your top shoulder forward which will also help you extend your reach
  • Insert the paddle into the water as far forward as possible and bury the paddle into the water, not too deep remember you're about to wanna dig it out
  • Now rather than pulling you paddle through the water, an interesting way to look at it is to think about actually pulling past your paddle with your board gliding through the water, the mental visual will not only improve your form and stability but also your speed, but slow down cowboy you're not ready for the races just yet
  • Now to ensure you stay in a straight line alternate your strokes to either side, taking a few strokes on one side and then switching off to the other. Switch the position of your hands to it's opposite when your paddle changes sides

Basic Strokes: Turning with the Forward Sweep Stroke 

  • Or the fancy stroke, whatever you'd like to call it, you're halfway to a pro by now so you can start making up names
  • If you want to turn left, place the paddle in the water on the right side. At the same time, turn your torso to the left side like you were doing a lil twist, not the rapper, the dance silly 
  • Keep a low profile stance like you're about to pounce on somethin', pull to the right towards the tail with the paddle, while twisting and leaning to the left with your torso. You’ll feel the board shift to the left quickly. This sounds like it would be backward of what you think but try it, it works, I wouldn't steer you wrong. HA! HA!

Turning with a Paddle Board

Basic Stokes: Turning with that Reverse Sweep Stroke
  • To turn right, place the paddle near the tail and pull toward the nose of the board while shifting that torso to the right — this will spin your board’s nose to the right hand side — the more you bend your knees, the easier it will be to turn the board, so bend those knees and get to turnin'

Or you can Abide by the Push-Pull Method

The push-pull method is the most effective way of paddling when stand-up paddle boarding, at least that's what they say. This method requires inserting your paddle into the water ahead of the feet, and pulling it backward and lifting it back out of the water and repeating

Beginners Beware and that's still you: Don’t make these common mistakes

  • Always hold the paddle with one hand on the top of the handle and the other on the shaft, just do it dude — a lot of people always want to hold the paddle like a broomstick, with both hands on the shaft — don’t do it! Follow the instructions explicitly above.
  • Keep your feet parallel and spread shoulder-width apart, your shoulders, not Arnolds. Everyone wants to get in this Kelly Slater surf stance, but that makes paddling on the flat water ten times harder sometimes 20. Plus, you will fall and you will get made fun of. Save your surf stance for the surf, and keep your feet parallel with toes pointed toward the nose. Just remember toes towards the nose bro, or keep them sticks towards the tip chick.
  • Make sure your grip on the paddle is shoulder width apart, again your shoulders — short grips will give you a powerless stroke, long grips give you that power.
  • Dip the blade in the water and take a good long stroke, letting those large back muscles of yours do the work. Many try to stroke using their arms. Let the big back muscles do the brunt of the work give your arms a break, you need them for transporting your paddle board and for swimming when you fall off.

Fun Fact!!

SUP – The World’s Fastest Growing Watersport

Did you know that Paddle Boarding is the fastest growing sport in the entire world and is still a relatively young sport? With its advent only as far back as 2004 as we know it today. This new sport in its current form is only 14 years old first starting in Hawaii many years ago and taking the world by storm through San Diego, California. 

Paddleboarding is not only a great form of exercise for a full body core workout, it's unlike any other way to experience the water. People of all ages, body types, and levels of talent, even you young padawan can take to paddle boarding exceptionally fast. Dogs even sometimes out paddle their owners. Get out there and most importantly, have fun!

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