SUP Paddling Techniques for Beginners


Want a hobby that will get you relaxed, get you in shape, and get you in touch with the great outdoors? If so, then you won't find a more perfect hobby than stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), especially if you live in or are planning to visit the South Florida area. Worried that it looks too hard? Don't. We'll show you how easy SUP can be by giving you some techniques for beginners that you can put into play today, provided you have the proper gear, which you can read more about in our other article titled Stand-Up Paddleboarding: How to Get Started. With that being said, let's dive into some SUP techniques for beginners.

How to Stand on a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP)

Look for a spot to launch that allows you to get in knee-deep water. Once you get to a level where the water is at your knees, put the paddleboard right beside you. To ensure you're at the right water level (since everyone's a different height), make sure that your board's fin is close to the bottom, but not hitting it. Using both hands, grab the board by its edges. Slowly work your way up the board. You want to kneel on it just behind its center, which you can usually determine precisely by the location of the paddleboard's carrying handle. As you hold the sides of the board with both hands, slowly move one foot to where one of your knees are. Repeat this with your other foot. With your feet in place in the center of the board and your knees bent, start raising your chest. Once it's in a vertical position perpendicular to the board, stand up. As a side note, don't try to stand up in a single, quick motion, at least until you become more advanced. Standing too quickly will result in you losing balance and falling into the water.

How to Stay Balanced on Your SUP

Now that you're standing on your SUP, you want to remain that way. To stay balanced, keep your feet facing forward, centered on the board, and parallel to its edges. They should be hip-width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent and your back straight. Check that your toes are pointed forward. Keep your head steady. It should also be upright with your eyes looking at a level even with the horizon. Don't stare at your feet - it'll cause you to lose your balance. Your shoulders should be steady as well and not slouching. As needed, move your hips to shift your weight.

How to Fall off Your SUP

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you will fall off your SUP. When it happens, aim your body to the side of the paddleboard so you don't fall on top of it and hurt yourself. The aim is to drop directly into the water instead. Beyond aiming for the side, also remember to hold on to your paddle, if possible. It makes one less thing to retrieve in the water, and you can use it to grab your paddleboard if it starts drifting away. If you can't hang on to your paddle when falling, retrieve your paddleboard first. You can then get on the board if necessary, and paddle with your hands to grab the paddle if it's way out of your reach.

How to Get Back on to Your Sup After You Fall

After retrieving your board post-fall, place your body next to the board's center. Grab the paddleboard's handle near the center using one hand. With one hand on the handle, let your legs rise to the surface behind you. Start kicking your legs, then pull on the handle so you can slide onto it.

How to Paddle Forward on Your SUP

To move your paddleboard forward in the water, reach two feet forward and stick the paddle in the water. Push the paddle blade entirely beneath the surface, moving it back towards your ankle until it comes out of the water. To travel entirely in a straight line, use strokes on both sides of your body. Three strokes on the right, then three on the left is a good routine. Your arms should be straight when paddling. You'll go much straighter by keeping the paddle as vertical as possible. Use your top hand to push down on the paddle instead of using your lower hand to pull back on it.

How to Paddle Backward on Your SUP

When you want to slow down, stop, or turn, reach behind you and completely submerge the paddle near the tail of the board. If you use this stroke on the right side of your board, your board's nose will turn to the right. Use the reverse stroke on the left, and the nose will turn to the left. Remember to keep your arms straight when performing the backward stroke. You can read and study up on SUP paddling techniques as much as you'd like, but if you don't put them into play, you'll never become an expert stand-up paddleboarder.

Where can you put these techniques you've just learned about into play? Find the answer to that question by reading our guide on the Best Places in South Florida for Stand-Up Paddleboarding now. Don't forget to keep checking our site for more SUP resources in the future, as well as other guides on everything there is to discover in South Florida.