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Beginner's Guide To Stand-Up Paddleboarding: Learning To PaddleBoard



Updated on 7/10/2024
Abigail ScottBy Abigail Scott
Hi, I'm Abigail 👋 Since embarking on my kayaking and boarding adventures in 2010, I've navigated rivers and lakes across North America and beyond. With over a decade of experience and countless waterways explored, I'm here to help enthusiasts like you embark on unforgettable water adventures!
Learn More about Abigail Scott


Getting Started On PaddleBoarding

Have you ever been interested in becoming proficient on a stand-up paddleboard? Don't bother looking any further; good fortune has found you today. You may be wondering, "What exactly is stand-up paddle boarding?" Stand-up paddle boarding, more often referred to as SUP is a water sport in which participants stand atop a board while navigating the water with the aid of a paddle. (And believe us when we say that it's wholly illuminated.)

The sport of surfing served as an inspiration for the sport of paddle boarding. However, paddle boarders do not sit on the board and wait for a wave to come to them as surfers do; instead, paddle boarders can propel themselves forward whenever they want with the assistance of their reliable paddles. We will guide you through the process of learning to paddleboard.

1. The First Thirty Reasons You're Going To Have A Ball With Stand-up Paddleboarding

When you have experienced stand-up paddleboarding for yourself, you won't ever want to give up your board again. This is why you're going to like it.

You Can Do It With Your Friends

Spend the day on the lake with your best friend, lover, or dog by bringing them on your board.

This Is Excellent For Your Body

Stand-up paddle boarding is a great technique to strengthen your core muscles. Plus, it doesn't need you to sweat it out on an elliptical machine at a busy gym!

You Will Have The Opportunity To Spend Time Outdoors!

Paddle boarding is a fun and exciting way to take in the outdoors. You'll be able to put in some great work while enjoying the beauty of the natural setting around you.

2. Is Paddle Boarding Difficult?

Stand-up paddleboarding, often known as SUP, is not as difficult as you think, and you may pick up the fundamentals in as little as a day or two if you are a fast learner. There are more challenging kinds of stand-up paddleboarding, such as SUP surfing and long-distance SUP tours, but you can learn how to paddle for leisure in minutes.

3. Types Of Paddle Boards

Paddle boards come in various lengths, widths, and lengths and may be found in multiple forms. The most typical dimensions for a paddle board are a length ranging from 10'6 to 11' and a width between 31" and 35". Stand-up paddleboards are much more space-consuming than standard surfboards.

Look for an all-around or hybrid paddle board with dimensions of at least 10'6 in length and 31 inches wide if you are starting. Check that the council can sustain your weight before you go on it. Check out our guide on How to Choose a Paddle Board to locate the ideal board for your skill level, whether you're just starting or are an experienced paddler.

Paddle Boards That Can Be Inflated

When you're ready to use them, inflatable paddle boards, also known as iSUPs, may be inflated, but they can also be deflated to be stored or transported more easily. A significant advantage of using an iSUP rather than a rigid paddle board is that it is much simpler to carry and store. Inflatable stand-up paddle boards float higher in the water than their fixed counterparts, making them well-suited for sports like SUP yoga. The fact that iSUPs are resilient and can recover from bumps and dips makes them an ideal choice for novice paddlers.

Hard Paddle Boards

Paddle boards that are made of hard materials are considered to be more "traditional." They have an EPS foam core encased in materials like epoxy, fiberglass, wood, carbon fiber, or plastic, and then wrapped around that core is another material. They are often a little bit quicker than inflatable SUPs, and as a result, they perform better for SUP surfing, which requires you to be agile on a solid board. On the other hand, there are also certain drawbacks associated with hard SUPs. The fact that they are so large makes it more challenging to put them away. They are also difficult to transport, mainly when the wind is strong. (Be prepared to go forward on your board even when you don't think the wind will help you; it might happen when you least expect it.)



If you are new to stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), you should likely start with a board that can handle various conditions. These are the most prevalent model, and because of their ease of use, they are fantastic SUPs for those just starting. As its name suggests, all-around paddle boards are attractive for various stand-up paddling activities.

Fishing Paddle Boards

If you want to fish from your stand-up paddleboard, you should seek a board with a broader deck of at least 31 inches but no more than 36 inches wide. SUPs designed for fishing often come with various attachments that enable you to install or store fishing equipment on the board itself.

Boards For Yoga Paddling

If you're considering trying stand-up paddleboard yoga, you should be psyched because you will experience something incredibly serene and very Instagrammable. There's a good reason so many people are getting into stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga right now: it's an experience that'll get your blood pumping. If stand-up paddleboard yoga is your thing, you should search for a board with a deck width of at least 31 inches and a length of at least 10 feet. This will ensure you have the space to practice tree poses to your heart's delight.

Touring Paddle Boards

You'll want a longer and narrower board with a pointed nose and a displacement hull if you use a stand-up paddleboard for touring. Extended paddleboard journeys may help you cover ground more quickly and effectively.

Surf Paddle Boards

Smaller boards are preferable for stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) surfing because they allow riders to quickly negotiate the water's obstacles. Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) surfing is best suited for more seasoned surfers looking for a challenge.

Hybrid Paddle Boards

There is no better choice than a hybrid paddle board for families or anybody else who wants to do it all. The length of hybrid commissions may be anywhere from 10 feet 6 inches to 12 feet, and their widths can range from 33 inches to 35 inches. These boards are often characterized by increased stability and a high degree of versatility.

4. Essential Paddle Board Gear



Look at this list to see what SUP essentials you should have.

Stand-Up Paddle Board

You were aware of this particular fact. You can't stand up paddleboard without, you guessed it, a SUP!

Sup Paddle

Your reliable paddle will serve as your second-in-command on every stand-up paddle excursion. Thus its importance cannot be overstated. Most paddles designed for use with stand-up paddleboards include a mechanism that allows them to be adjusted to accommodate paddlers of varying heights and weights.

Paddleboard Leash


Always make sure you have a leash attached to your paddle board. If you have a leash, you won't have to worry about your paddle being yanked out of your hand and drifting away if you fall out of your kayak.

PFD (personal flotation device)

Having a personal flotation device on hand is not only recommended for your protection but also required in certain situations. Any paddle board that travels outside of a surfing or swimming area in the United States, for instance, must have a life jacket on board for each passenger, and children who are 12 or younger must wear their life jackets at all times. In an unexpected crisis, personal flotation devices (PFDs) may serve as the first line of defense, so investing in them is unquestionably a good idea.

Flashlight And Safety Whistle

If you want to paddle throughout the night, you should bring along a lantern and a safety whistle, at the very least. Prioritize protection!

Clothing For Boards Up

What weather you expect to paddle in will determine the gear you must wear when boarding. You will need a wetsuit if the temperature is low. If the temperature is higher, you may paddle in your swimsuit; nevertheless, a rash guard and a cap will offer additional protection from the sun. You should also consider swimming with a dry change of clothing if you become wet.


On days when the temperature is higher, you won't need to wear shoes while on your stand-up paddleboard (SUP), but it's entirely OK if you're feeling cold. Shoes will not harm your board. You should use shoes made to be worn in water, such as deck shoes or shoes explicitly developed for water sports. Neoprene shoes are the best option for keeping your toes warm while swimming in chilly water.


A warning: Ultraviolet (UV) rays may be reflected off open water, which we are all well aware of, but it never hurts to be reminded. In addition to using sunscreen, you should consider wearing protective headwear such as hats, visors, and rash guards when you go outside throughout the day. After spending the whole day paddleboarding out on the open water, you will get a sunburn that will be unbearable no matter how much aloe you use.

A Drier Bag That Is Equipped With An Action Camera, A Phone Case, And A Towel

Your most precious items may always remain dry and undamaged inside a dry bag. You could also wish to invest in a watertight phone case that can be stored inside the bag. Invest in an action camera such as a GoPro if you feel your travels could use a little extra excitement. You may also keep your towel in an area that will not get wet by putting it in your dry bag.

Paddleboard Bag Or Backpack

Because your paddle board bag or iSUP backpack will play a role in the storage and protection of your board, it is essential to choose a high-quality model.

5. How To Customize The Fit Of Your Stand-Up Paddle



In most cases, you should look for a paddle around 9 to 10 inches (cm) higher than your height. There are, without a doubt, specific notable exceptions. If you're into stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) surfing, you'll want a paddle that's about 6 inches to 7 inches taller than you are, and if you're into stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) racing, you'll want a paddle that's about a foot taller than you are.

Because most paddles for stand-up paddleboards can be adjusted (see our recommendations for advice on choosing the proper size of your paddle for more information), the most important thing to learn is how to change your paddle so that it is comfortable for you to use.

The Hands-Up Approach To The Method

The Hands Up Method is used to determine the size of your paddle. Hold your paddle up straight and parallel to your body with one hand, ensuring the blade is in contact with the ground. Maintain the position of your other hand as if you were ready to do a pull-up. Adjust the height of your paddle to be at the same level as the top of your pull-up hand. Make sure that the paddle grip fits the palm of your hand comfortably; if it does not, continue to make adjustments until it does.

After determining the appropriate height, you must modify your paddle by depressing the metal button. Ensure the control gives you that excellent click to let you know it's firmly in place after you've adjusted the handle to the desired height by guiding it up or down to achieve the desired level.

6. Instructions On How To Stand Up On A Paddle Board



You have the board, the gear, and now - drum roll, please - you are prepared to go out on the water and start surfing. You'll first need to learn how to get your stand-up paddleboard off the ground.

Launching Your Sup

Step one is to carry your board into the water by its middle handle as you walk into the water. When knee-deep in the water, place the panel on top. After positioning your paddle to face the opposite direction of your board, sit down with your knees on the board.

Getting used to paddling on your knees before moving to another position would be best. It is time to learn how to stand up when you feel ready to give standing a go.

How To Stand On The Board For The First Time In This Instruction Manual

Are you ready to put the "Stand Up" in stand-up paddleboarding? This is the procedure to follow: Proceeding one foot at a time, position both of your feet so that they are resting in the area occupied by your knees. Once you get your hands on the paddle, you have slowly come up from a squat position while keeping your heels on the ground.

Balance Tips

Make your first stroke with your paddle when you reach your feet and stand up. Because of this, you will be able to develop momentum, which will, in turn, help you maintain excellent stability. (Consider the analogy of riding a bicycle: the steadier your pedal, the more focused you will feel.) Engaging your core should be your primary focus if you're having trouble maintaining your balance. Maintain a parallel stance with your feet and space them hip-width apart. Maintain a slight bend in your knees and ensure your toes point forward.

Take Into Account The Width Of Your Board

Wider boards may make it simpler to maintain balance, which is particularly helpful for novice surfers. Choose a board with a width of at least 31 inches, if not even broader.

7. Advice On Paddleboarding For Your First Stand-Up Paddleboard Adventure



As you explore the broad seas of stand-up paddleboarding, keep these suggestions in mind.

1. Estimate The Size Of Your Board

Many paddleboard newbies get their feet wet on boards that are far too tiny for them. Maintaining balance and navigating obstacles might be challenging when your commission is too small. You will want to make sure that you choose a board that is the appropriate size for your requirements and your current degree of expertise.

2. Balance On Your Stand-Up Paddleboard

Place one foot in front of the other and parallel to the board while standing on it. Put your toes in a pointed forward position, bend your knees slightly, and stare before you. (You may need to glance down, but resist the urge!) Activate your core and double-check that you're paddling in the appropriate direction.

3. Holding Your Stand-Up Paddle Properly To SUP

Your first inclination about how to hold your paddle for your stand-up paddleboard may be wrong. To properly grip it, the paddle blade should be angled away from you and toward the front of the board. Hold on to the shaft firmly with one hand while maintaining a light grasp on the T-grip with the other. Rotate your hand placements from paddling on the side to the back.

4. Falling Off Your Board (And Getting Back Up Again)

No matter how experienced a paddler is, they will inevitably go overboard. Your goal should be to fall away from your board and land on your stomach in the water. Then, get back on the horse or the board, as the case may be. Grab the middle handle of your board while treading water close to it, and use it to pull yourself up onto the board. To get back onto your board, first use your arm to pull on the handle, and then use your legs to kick.

5. Acquire The Skill Of Paddling In Large, Open Areas

If you've never paddled on open water before, you should go out with another paddler with more expertise. Be careful to check the forecast beforehand, and always let someone know when and where you plan to be. Always put your well-being and protection first.

6. Paddle While Concentrating On Your Core 

Because your core is more potent than your arms, this advice will assist you in more ways than one. Paddling is an excellent low-impact activity that is made simpler using your core. Paddling also helps strengthen your body. When you've got your board and the glistening water below you, an overcrowded aerobics class isn't necessary, is it? Paddling from your core will allow you to go farther and quicker than swimming from your arms.

7. Be Aware Of The Wind In All Directions

Check the wind's direction before you go out on the sea. On your walk out, you should turn your back to the wind. If you do this, as you are tired on the way back, the wind can help you instead of working against you. When paddling on the water, if you find yourself in an area with a lot of wind, go on your knees and shift your hands toward the center of the paddle's shaft. If necessary, you may "row" the board like a canoe until you are in a position where it is safe to stand back up.

8. Keep Your Head Up And Stand Upright

Keeping your balance on the board will be easier if you hold your head up and stare ahead of you without turning it. Strive not to give in to the temptation to glance at your feet!

9. Avoid Common Beginner's Mistakes

  • It would be best if you did not hold your paddle so that the curved section of the blade is towards you, and you should instead adjust the angle of the blade so that it is pointing away from you.
  • On your board, ensure that you are not facing the other way. Checking the position of the fins is a quick and straightforward technique to determine if you are looking forward or backward and facing the correct direction if the fins are in the rear.
  • Don't rely exclusively on your arms to propel you forward. Your abdominal and back muscles are where it's at!
  • Don't paddle while standing on your feet like you're on a surfboard. Always remember to keep your feet parallel to one another!

Before you realize it, this will come naturally to you. You can do this!

8. Here Are The Fundamental Paddleboard Strokes You Should Be Familiar With



Before moving on to more complex paddling methods, you should ensure that you have these strokes down pat.

Paddling Forward

The most important stroke to do with a paddle is the forward stroke. You should rotate your hips and shoulders while holding the paddle out over the water with the blade inclined forward to pull it off. Once you've done that, you may go on to the next step. Put the whole edge of the paddle into the water, and then move the blade toward you as you paddle.

Inversion Of Direction

To perform this stroke, you must position the paddle in the water behind you, somewhat near the end of your board. Maintaining a straight arm position while rotating your body will allow you to move the blade forward after being immersed in the water. Your board's nose will slide to the left whenever you perform a reserve stroke on the left side of it (and vice versa.)

How To Twist Your Stand-Up Paddleboard: Sweep Stroke

If you need to turn your SUP, begin by bending your knees and lowering your arms. This will provide you with more leverage to move your board. Put the blade of your paddle into the water in front of you, making sure it is perpendicular to the paddle board. After that, you should move the paddle away from your board in a motion of about a half circle, beginning at the nose and ending at the tail.

You can do a reverse sweep stroke by employing this identical action, and the only difference is that you should begin the technique with the blade of your paddle entering the water at the tail of your SUP and then sweeping the paddle towards the nose.

Draw Stroke:

Using this stroke effectively can assist you in moving your board laterally. It is perfect for situations where you must maneuver into a constrained location or draw up beside something. To perform a drawstroke, you must rotate your shoulders opposite the path you want the board to go. Afterward, reach over the board's edge and place the paddle in the water so the blade is perpendicular to the board's direction. After that, you'll want to bring the edge closer by pulling it toward you. In doing this, the paddle's movements will be transferred to the board in the order in which they happened.

Consider The Following Illustration:

Stand Up Paddling - Draw Strokes

Tip For Advanced Players: The Crossbow Stroke

If you want to earn additional credit, you may start practicing the crossbow stroke, an advanced maneuver that can help you turn quickly while standing in the center of the board. Practice makes perfect.

Nikki Gregg SUP cross bow turn

9. Transporting And Storing Your Paddle Board



After the day, you will take your stand-up paddleboard home. So tell me, how are you going to transport it there?

How To Carry Your Board In Various Ways 

Keeping your grip on the central handle of your board will allow you to maneuver it more quickly and easily. You may also carry it by slinging it over your shoulder, but remember that paddle boards are far more significant than surfboards. When you are initially getting accustomed to having your SUP, you may find that it requires some tweaking and finagling.

How To Drive While You Are Standing On Your Board

If you have an inflatable stand-up paddle board, you may quickly deflate it and put it in your SUP bag in the trunk of your vehicle. If you have a rigid SUP, you'll need a car rack (or some other safe means of car transport) to put it on your vehicle's roof and secure it using cam straps. You can still use other secure car transport means if you don't have a car rack.

How To Soar In The Skies With Your Board

If you have an inflatable stand-up paddle board, transporting it on an airplane shouldn't be too difficult. Deflate the board, place it in a SUP bag, and you'll be ready. If you have a rigid stand-up paddleboard, you will want to preserve it with a sturdy case, especially if you plan on transporting it. It would be best to get to the airport early to check in for your flight in case of any hiccups and research any oversized checked baggage fees that may apply.

How To Stuff Your Stand-Up Paddle At Your House

Most people who own hard SUPs prefer to hang them from the ceiling or mount them on the wall to store them. It does not matter how you keep your stand-up paddleboard; ensure that the weight is adequately spread throughout the board so it does not get damaged.

When it comes to having fun while paddleboarding, the possibilities are almost endless after selecting a board, becoming comfortable with the fundamentals, and launching yourself into the water. Getting out on the water and paddling for the first time is easily the most daunting aspect of learning to swim board, so all you need to do is make that first move. It is entirely up to you whether you want to become an expert at crow pose while paddling on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP), hit the water with your best friend on board, or swim to wherever the day takes you.

10. One Last Thing Before You Hit The Water



Now that the crucial stage has been reached, the question is whether or not you are prepared to jump. When going on your first SUP adventure, keep these guidelines in mind.

  • Employ a leash; the last thing you want is to be in the position of Wilson from "Castaway," watching helplessly as your paddle drifts off into the vast beyond.
  • Checking the wind direction and speed before your SUP excursion is an excellent way to be safe and avoid a workout that will exhaust your energy. There is a firm wind speed restriction of around 10 miles per hour; anything more than that, you will want to remain on shore. During the morning, it is recommended that you paddle towards the wind so that on your way back to the beach when you are more exhausted, the wind will be behind you and assist you in pushing onward. Be sure to start the day in this position.
  • Paddling requires you to engage your core. Trust us. You will go much farther and quicker if you do this.
  • If you are unsure how much you will love stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), you should rent a board first to get a feel for the sport before investing in your panel.
  • Consider taking stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) classes. Even just one or two sessions may do wonders for your SUP ability. Lessons are something you should try out since the more enjoyment you'll have with whatever you're doing will directly correlate to your well-developed talents.
  • Be aware of your capabilities while riding the waves: take things gently at first as you work your way up, and don't underestimate the strength of the current. Riding a lock on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) is a tonne of fun, but taking it slow at first is essential to ensure you are learning the technique safely.
  • Remember that you'll become better at this with practice! This is just the start of many exciting adventures to come! Do not give up if you have a difficult time the first few times you go on the ocean. It is pretty natural to have a learning curve. The more you practice paddling, the more it will seem like second nature to you. Continue learning to paddleboard and try different things until something finally works well for you because you can be sure it will.
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