Stand up paddleboarding (aka SUP) is a summertime activity that many look forward to. It's a time to play on the water and explore the great outdoors — not to mention it's some serious full-body workout. However, because of the excitement and mood-boosting effect paddling has on your mind when you're paddling through rivers, lakes or ponds, you probably won't realize you're doing a head-to-toe workout.
Beyond the practice element, the board gives you a nice vantage point from which to see what's underwater or on the horizon.
For those who have never tried SUP, it might seem a little intimidating, especially if you are not used to water activities. Rest assured, with a good instructor and the right equipment, you'll be hooked in no time! “SUP is a lot easier to learn than many people think — most people can be up and moving in under half an hour,” says Chris Strout, owner and head instructor at Acadia SUP in Bar Harbor, ME.
With 22 years of experience teaching and guiding paddle sports, he guides us in all areas of SUP; From getting up on the board to safety tips. Let's paddle!
What you need for Stand Up Paddleboarding
"The great thing about SUP is that you don't need a lot of equipment," explains Strout. For the easiest setup, you'll need the following:
- A paddle
- A safety line
- A US Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) with whistle.
If you're going somewhere more extensive, Strout recommends you pack a dry bag (waterproof) with some extra gear, a snack, and a way to communicate with the outside world (think a cell phone in a waterproof bag, or an FM radio in it) . a life jacket pocket).
What to wear
Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. "What you wear depends entirely on the conditions and time of year you're paddling," explains Strout.
For example, "For warmer water on a sunny day, wearing your favorite swimsuit and applying plenty of sunscreen may be enough," he says. "For cooler water you might want to opt for warmer synthetic layers, a wetsuit and a nice pair of neoprene boots for your feet."
All in all, the right clothing is important. If you have any questions, you can contact your local SUP headquarters and ask a qualified guide.
Strout's step-by-step guide to stand up paddleboard for beginners
For beginners, Strout recommends starting on your knees. “On a paddleboard you can easily paddle sitting or kneeling. It's the best way to get a feel for the balance of the board and get comfortable with the paddle and maneuvering the board before attempting to stand up,” he says.
Start on your knees
- Once on your knees, center yourself with your knees on either side of the board carry handle to ensure the board is trimmed correctly front to back and side to side.
- Take a few minutes on your knees to make sure you can control your board.
- Ask yourself: can you turn around effectively, can you steer left and right, can you paddle the board in a straight line? This all may seem pretty easy, but it can quickly fall by the wayside if you stand up and focus on your balance.
- Once you're ready to get up, you need to relax. First, remember that sometimes falling into the water happens, and that's okay. In fact, it's part of the fun and can help you loosen up.
- The key to standing is looking ahead. If you look at your feet, it gets harder.
- Move your body so that you are on your hands and knees and your belly button is over the handle.
- Place your paddle across the board in front of you so you can grab it when you stand up.
- Move one foot at a time and place your first foot flat on the board, well away from the center grip.
- Keep looking forward and place your other foot far up on the other side of the carry handle.
- It's now a basic squat. Stay on flat foot and keep your bottom lower than your chest as you grab your paddle and stand up slowly.
- You want to keep your knees bent, hips loose, and body centered on the board. Don't lean forward and stay on both your heels and balls of your feet.
- After getting up, do a few paddle strokes as soon as possible. It's like the third leg of a tripod, helping you balance and gain some momentum. At first it will feel shaky. That is normal.
- Remember not to look down. As you gain confidence, start hitting more aggressively and rock your board back and forth to test its stability.
See! Your Stand Up Paddleboarding!
How to improve your paddle strokes
- To improve your paddling strokes, keep them vertical and paddle with your arms straight, bending at your waist to move the paddle. This will engage your core instead of tiring your arms.
Here's what to do if you fall in the water
If you do fall in, Strout recommends trying to relax. It's water and the good thing about it is that the landing is pretty soft. "You want to fall off your board flat into the water," says Strout.
This is where carrying a leash comes in handy. Because the leash attaches to the ankle, you can't stray too far from your board.
- Swim to the side of your board and place your paddle out of the way.
- Place one hand in the middle handle area and the other hand on the board behind the handle.
- Kick your legs back and imagine stepping out of a swimming pool.
- Kick and push in a single motion, landing you belly-down on the board's deck.
- Then swing your legs back onto the board and work your way back up to your knees and then your feet.
Strout's Stand Up Paddleboard Safety Tips (Safety First, Fun Second)
- Always wear a leash and life jacket - it is a legal requirement that you have a life jacket on your board. If you don't want to wear one, consider investing in an inflatable waist belt. They're unobtrusive, yet ensure you're safe (and legal) on the water.
- Be aware of the wind and other conditions on the water.
- Be conservative at the beginning.
- Check the weather forecast, tides or other information and always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to come back.
- Paddle upwind first or stay in sheltered areas along the coast. If you get tired, you can always let the wind blow you back to where you started.
- "One of the best ways to progress and get started right is to take a lesson from your local outfitter," says Strout, and now is the perfect time of year (and time) to get on the water and have fun!