How to Paddle Board – The Ultimate SUP Guide
Paddle boarding has become a popular recreational water-based activity over the past for years, and for good reason! Paddle boarding is easy to learn, a fantastic means to take in the scenery on the water, and is relatively inexpensive compared to other water sports.
Most paddle boards are made with hollow wooden or foam frames that grant the board it’s floating properties, and covered with watertight fiberglass, carbon fiber, or PVC outer shells.
What is Paddle Boarding?
A paddle board is designed to be operated by a single rider. The rider is to be positioned in the center of the board. They must stand upright with their feet parallel to one another, and pointing towards the front of the board.
The rider propels the paddle board with, you guessed it, a paddle! The paddle is an instrument that is made up of three parts, the blade, shaft, and handle. The blade is located on one end of the paddle, and it’s profile is thin, wide and flat in nature. The shaft is located in the middle of the paddle and consists of a long narrow tubing. Lastly, the handle is located on the opposite end of the blade, and is to be grasped with one hand.
Before we look at the gear that may be needed for your next paddle board outing, lets take a look at some of the basics on how to operate the paddle board.
Paddle Boarding – The SUP Basics
Paddle Boarding Gear – Everything You Need
A personal flotation device (PFD) is highly recommended for both beginner and advanced paddle boarders alike. This allows the rider to stay buoyant in the event that they fall in the water. The PFD will conserve muscle power for the rider to either remount the paddle board, or to swim safely to shore.
If you are riding alone we also recommend you carry a whistle with you, in the event that you injure yourself and require assistance.
It’s important not only to dress for the temperature of the air, but for the temperature of the water. Some specialized synthetic clothing may be helpful when you are out on the water, because they are water resistant, light, and dry quickly. Items like rash guards or swim shirts are also great options for clothing due to the fact that they have SPF built into the fabrics so that they can protect you from the hazardous UV rays of the sun.
Water shoes, or strapped sandals may be a nice choice for you if you predict that the areas on the shore will be rocky, or have sharp objects.
Carrying the Paddle Board
Most paddle boards are equipped with a convenient carrying handle located in the center of the board. To carry a paddle board, the rider will tip the board on it’s side (so that the top of the paddle board facing away from their body), then tuck the board underneath their armpit, and grasp the carrying handle with one arm. Paddle boards can be heavy, so if you feel a lot of strain on your shoulders, arms, or back, ask a buddy for help.
Getting Onto the Paddle Board
Getting on the paddle board can be a little tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will be a breeze! First, the rider is to place the paddle board in the water with the top of the board facing up. Next position the board in a shallow end of the water, so that the front half of the paddle board is buoyant, and so that the back of the paddle board is making contact with the ground in the shallow end of the shore. The rider will then position themselves next to the paddle board, facing the same direction that the front end of the board is pointing. Then the rider will lift up the leg that is closest to the board, and firmly plant it up onto the center of the board. Once that leg is positioned correctly, they press down with the foot that is planted on the board, and like a stepping motion, they will bring their other leg up and onto the board.
To launch themselves off the shallow end of the shore, the rider will leverage their paddle against the bottom of the water, and push off into the direction where the water is deeper.
How to Paddle
To move in a straight forward direction, the rider will reach out and submerge their paddle slightly ahead of their body on either side of the paddle board, and pull the paddle back towards themselves, then the rider will repeat the same motion on the other side of the paddle board. This motion is to be repeated and alternated after every stroke.
To move in a straight backwards direction, the rider will reach back and submerge their paddle slightly behind their body on either side of the paddle board, and pull the paddle back towards themselves, then the rider will repeat the same motion on the other side of the paddle board. This motion is to be repeated and alternated after every stroke.
To turn the direction of the paddle board, the rider will paddle on the same side of the paddle board repeatedly, until they have reached their desired direction.
Getting Off of the paddle board
To get off of the paddle board, the rider will paddle towards the shore until the front of the paddle board has made contact with the ground in the shallow ends of the water. Once the board has made ground contact, the rider will step off of the paddle board one foot at a time. Then the rider will pull the paddle board fully onto shore.