With so many more people heading to the rivers, canals and sea at the moment, making the most of that Great British summertime we came to realise… a lot of our advice doesn’t necessarily cover things you might experience on your first adventure. It covers how to get started, and things to look out for. But not necessarily situations you might encounter when you hit the water for the first time ever. So if you’re first time stand up paddle boarding, we wanted to make sure you had the info you needed!
To rectify this situation, and make some of the advice a little more light-hearted, we enlisted the help of two newbie stand up paddle boarders! Allen and Kara are two rookie SUP’ers, so we asked them to list the things they wished someone had told them before heading to the water for the first time…
First time stand up paddle boarding? You’ll love it! Check out these newbie top tips…
Before you set off
- Inflate the board or boat to the recommended PSI. An under inflated craft is a wobbly craft! The more solid and sturdy you can make your board, the more fun the adventure will be.
- Attach your leash. Always use the leash, whether that’s ankle, calf or waist leash. And make sure it’s attached to the board. Attach it before getting in/on the water as it is easier to adjust and make comfortable when not trying to balance! Click here to read more about SUP safety.
- Before even getting on the water, adjust your paddle to a longer length (it’s tricky to do when already stood up!). If you’re adjusting your paddle on the ground, hold out your arm parallel to your shoulder and bend your elbow to 90 degrees. Your fingers will be pointing up to the sky. Generally, you’ll want your paddle a little longer than this so that when you stand on the board your paddle will glide nicely through the water. It’s quite tricky to get the right height the first time. Learn the mechanism so you can always adjust it on the water if you need to quickly.
Once you’re ready to get on the water…
- When taking the board into the sea, point it towards oncoming waves whilst standing/walking next to it. Hold handle to guide it and do not have it side on to the waves or have it between you and oncoming waves. That’s just a sure-fire way to get hit in the face…
- Practice moving between sitting and kneeling and getting used to using the paddle and adjusting the length of paddle to suit you – the mechanism for changing the length differs between brands.
- Have one hand cupped over the end of the paddle and one hand about an arms length/shoulder length down the paddle. If you aren’t holding it properly then you lose power and it could also end up hitting you in the face if you’re just holding it with one hand or too loosely.
Let’s talk about standing up…
- Whilst kneeling, try to shuffle so both feet are shoulder width apart either side of handle or just behind. Don’t go infront of the handle, it will be much wobblier! Have the paddle horizontal in front of you on the board in your hands and push up from kneeling to standing. Keep your chin up and look out in front. And don’t look down! Start paddling ASAP after standing as the momentum helps you balance.
- If you’re getting jelly legs, have a go at wiggling your toes or deliberately making ripples in the water. You can do this by shifting your weight slightly from foot to foot. Falling in a few times also helps with getting rid of the shakes! There’s really nothing to worry about falling in. Just make sure you’ve got a spare, dry pair of clothes to change into at the end! Actually practising falling in is a great way to not only build your confidence but also help stay safe in the long run! (see our top tip below!)
- You might people prefer to sit cross legged on the board and paddle about. Just because it’s called stand up paddle boarding, don’t feel like you have to stand up the whole time (or even at all!!). Just enjoy being on the water.
Staying safe and sharing the space…
- Top tip! Practice falling in safely and pulling yourself back onto the board using the handle and straps. Think of it like getting out of a swimming pool at the side, it’s a similar motion. Kick your legs and slide yourself onto the board. If you begin to fall, relax into falls and try not to overly rectify it. It’s safer usually to just fall into the motion than fight it.
- Be extra careful in shallow water. You can easily damage your fin and paddle on the bottom of the riverbed (and importantly we don’t want to disturb natural habitats either by being in too shallow water). You could also hurt yourself if you fall in and hit the bottom.
- Don’t try to ride board all the way into the beach! A small wave can cause the back of the board to lift and the front to nose dive into the sand – throwing you head first into the beach (seen it happen and it looks like it hurts. A lot). When you think you are about waist/thigh height in the water, pop off the board and into the water and walk the rest of the way in with the board (again, try not to stand in front of a board and oncoming waves).
Thanks to Allen and Kara who learned the hard way with some of these lessons to bring you the ‘how not to do it’ guide 🙂 We hope it was useful, but also provided a few chuckles along the way! Let us know how you get on with your first time stand up paddle boarding experience! Looking for places to go on your first paddle boarding adventure? Check out our pre-planned trails and PaddlePoints tool too!