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How to Paddleboard: A Beginner's Guide to Paddle Boarding

How to Paddleboard: A Beginner's Guide to Paddle Boarding
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Water sports are a fun way to spend time out on the water and are usually also a great workout. Some of the sports are more strenuous than others, but there is something for everyone - even beginners. Looking for something more laid back? Try out paddle boarding. It can be as active or laid back as desired. It is never too late to pick up a new activity.

What is paddle boarding?

There are a couple different types of paddle boarding – one is stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and the other is traditional paddle boarding. Traditional paddle boarding consists of using a paddleboard or surfboard and then propelling oneself either kneeling or lying on their belly using their arms. Stand-up paddleboarding, on the other hand, is performed using a board while standing and using a paddle to push the board forward. Much like kayaking, the operator would alternate sides of paddling to move forward/backward.

Man and dog paddle boarding

What is needed for paddle boarding?

Paddle boarding is fairly simple and does not require a whole lot of equipment to enjoy. All that is needed is the desired board, life vest, a paddle, and proper clothing (a swimsuit is just fine). Additional accessories are helpful but not necessarily a must-have for stand up paddle boards. These include a safety whistle, board leash, and sunscreen. Luckily, Monster Tower offers a couple different options for paddle boards. There is the Rover 10'6 Flatwater Stand Up Paddle Board with cup holder. This board is inflatable, which in turn makes it easier to travel with. It comes with a carrying pack and a pump to inflate the device. Another option is the Zino 11' Stand Up Paddle Board. Similar to the previous option, this includes the same features but is 11 feet instead of ten and can withstand up to 300lbs.

Choosing a Paddle Board

When deciding on what paddle board to use or purchase, first, it is needed to decide what it will be used for – stand up paddle boarding or paddling. The board will need to also fit the body of its user properly – length and weight wise. Additionally, you’ll need to choose either a solid or inflatable board – this is really personal preference but some go with inflatable because it is not only easier to transport but also to store.

SUPs have three different hull types: planing hull, displacement hull, and hybrid.

  • A planing hull board is wider with a rounded front. This type of board is best for leisure paddling, surfing, yoga or whitewater paddling.
  • A displacement hull is more narrow and has a pointed nose. The nose type allows it to push through water effortlessly.These boards are best for racing, fitness paddling, and touring.
  • The hybrid hull is less popular but combines some features from both planing and displacement.

Some other specifications to keep in mind when choosing a board is the length, width, weight capacity, fin type, and whether it is solid or inflatable. All of these things go into deciding which paddle board is right for you. Too short or long (or wide or narrow) of a board might make certain activities on the SUP more difficult.

Getting started with paddle boarding

After all equipment is collected, it is time to learn how to actually use it. Balancing is the first and foremost technique that you’ll need to learn. Balancing on land and on the water are two very different things. Balancing on the water takes some time and patience – do not give up.

Starting off, go into knee-deep water and work on finding the center of the board. The center is typically wherever the carrying handle is located. Once the center is found, work on getting on the board, in a kneeling position. It is helpful to keep both hands on the sides of the board for stabilization. Once stable, slowly work on standing straight up. The board will initially teeter from side-to-side, but going slowly will help keep it balanced.

Once standing, keep feet parallel to each other on the board. They should be shoulder-width apart. Keep your toes pointed forward, knees slightly bent, and back straight. It is also helpful to not look down at the feet because this can cause a loss of balance. As weight is shifted between the hips, it will travel onto the board.

Child paddle boarding

Using the paddle and common strokes

It might seem like there is only one way to hold the paddle, but new paddlers often start off holding the paddle incorrectly. Making sure it is being used correctly is crucial to being able to move on the water. The paddle’s blade should angle forward from the handle, toward the front of the board. When paddling on the right side of the board, the left hand will be on the T-grip and the right hand a few feet down on the handle. When switching sides, reverse the hand positions.

As previously mentioned, using the same paddling method as kayaking, is how to propel oneself on the board. Alternating sides with the paddle will push the board forward (or backward depending on direction). The fin should be submerged in the water near the side of the board, start slightly in front of the center and push the paddle back. Then, switch sides and repeat. To turn, paddle on one side. To slow down or stop, either stop paddling or place the fin in the water and hold it against the flow of water.

There are a variety of paddle strokes. The most basic is going to be the forward stroke. This is what propels the board forward. Then, there is the reverse stroke which is the opposite and will move the board backward through the water. Finally, there is a sweep stroke which is used to turn the board. This stroke is performed by making a giant half circle from the front of the board to the back on one side.

Ready to start paddle boarding?

Once on the board and moving, falling off is probably a high possibility. Fear not, it is not the end of the world and even the best boarders fall off. Losing balance is usually the main cause for falling, but there could be other reasons. When falling, try to fall to the side into the water instead of onto the board – unless able to knee down – to prevent injury. Try to hang onto the paddle while falling…it makes it a lot easier to get back up, plus keeps it from getting lost.

Getting back up on the board is not too difficult. Once ready, place the paddle onto the center of the board. Hold it with one hand while the other holds onto the handle in the center of the board. Let your legs float up behind or to the side and kick them onto the board gently. Do so while pulling on the handle to get back onto the board. Then proceed with the steps for standing up.

Going out on a SUP for the first time can be slightly nerve wracking; however, there are some tips and tricks that can help. Choose a calm, smaller body of water with little to no wind (if possible). Take a friend or a group of people so everyone can keep an eye out for each other (it is also more fun than going alone). It is a workout and takes some getting used to, do not get too upset if most of the time is spent kneeling or falling off and getting back on. Practice makes perfect.

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