SUP 101: 7 Easy Steps to Excel SUP First TimeDecember 18, 2015
7 Easy Steps to Excel SUP First Time
The following simple steps are here for you to follow, so that you can excel SUP the first time you try.
STEP 1: Get Ready and Be Prepared
The first advice is don’t care what others might think and be honest with your swimming ability. Not strong swimmers are suggested to wear a life jacket or any Personal Floatation Device (PFD) at all times because there is always a chance that you might fall into water. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Also, never leave your board, if you happen to lose the paddle. Using your hands to paddle and retrieve your paddle is much easier than swimming.
STEP 2: Mounting On Board
Put the board into the water, and go on your knees just a little bit behind the center point of the board. Put the paddle in front of you across the board. Use the paddle for balance while you carefully stand up on one foot at a time. The first time on the board, try to be relaxed, you might find the board tipping and moving from side to side. Don’t be panic and try to notice that the nose shouldn’t be popping up out of water and the tail shouldn’t be digging in. Use your hands to help stabilize the board. When standing, face straight forward with a wide parallel stance. Any reposition of your feet should be made in tiny half-inch steps or small hops. Keep your back straight, bend your knees, toes forward, and stay loose in the hips.
STEP 3: Position Your Feet
Remember to stand in the middle of the board. Do not stand too close to the edges or rails of the board as your feet might slip off the board easily. Too far forward will sink the nose. Too far back will drag the tail and that will slow you down. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. This distance enhances your balance on the board. You generally want a wide parallel stance for long-distance paddling on flat water as it’s more stable and makes paddle transitions from side to side easier. However, when you are in choppier water condition or in the waves, you’ll want to position your feet a little more horizontally with your dominant foot forward like in surfing. Always attach a safety leash to the rear foot.
STEP 4: Paddle, Paddle, and Paddle!
Use your paddle for balance by moving blade forward or backward to keep steady. Place one hand on the grip of your paddle and the other on the shaft. In any case, keep your paddle in the water as much as possible and never let go of it. When paddle, stroke backwards. Remember that the bend in the paddle should be pointing behind you. The blade of the paddle should therefore look like a forward facing spoon. Make sure that, whichever side you paddle, that hand must be lower on the shaft with your opposite hand gripping the handle at the top. Keep your arms straight when paddling and don’t just paddle with your arms. Use your whole body. When throwing the paddle into the water, bend your upper body down. This way helps you avoid any injury. Also, start with small paddles to get you moving and don’t try to extend the stroke too far past your legs. Pull the blade up and bring it to the front again as straight as possible, avoid any wide circular motion.
STEP 5: Sides Switching
After some time, the board will veer sideway. Therefore, it is time to switch and paddle on the other side. To paddle on the other side, never cross your arms. Your hands need to switch position: the hand on top moves down; and the one down moves up to the handle. You must do this every time you switch side. At first, it might require some time to get used to moving hands. To stay in a relatively straight line, paddle a few strokes on one side then switch side. This will help you keep your board going forward in a straight line. Skilled paddlers can go straight for more than ten strokes before switching, but that requires some experience and training.
STEP 6: Stop and Turn!
Stopping is easy, just put your paddle vertically into the water and hold it against the water. It will take some time before the board comes to a halt. As for turning, there are several ways to turn, but the easiest way would be to paddle “backwards”.
STEP 7: Lessons Are Never a Bad Thing.
Ask your local retailer or shop to recommend a good instructor nearby. Lessons are never a bad thing. Getting a lesson from a reputable and qualified instructor is still recommended. Check online for paddleboard dealers in the area or for the latest gear, board demo locations, and events. SUP company websites also offer great insight into kinds of equipment available and where to purchase. Starboard SUP website also has useful information on shops and schools.
Also, last but not least, always know your limits when you’re out paddling. Know how to swim, or if not, make sure to have a PDF at least strapped to the board somewhere. Know the body of water you’re paddling or, in other words, just be aware of your surroundings. With all these steps taken, you can be sure to have great fun standup paddling.