As a first-time paddle boarder, falling face-first into the water is worrisome. Paddle board experts stay upright and dry, and while falls can be funny, it’s better to make the process easier. To learn how to hop on your board and stand up without scene here’s what you need to know.
A Step by Step Guide on How to Get on a Paddleboard
- The Board You Choose—and Its Stability—Matter
Stability is crucial when it comes to paddling through any water. Usually, the most stable boards are paddle boards that are 30+ inches wide, and 11+ feet long. Smaller boards are trickier to balance on and can tip you over if you’re not experienced. Smaller boards are trickier to balance on and can tip you over if you’re not experienced. Also, if you are looking at getting an iSUP, you'll find the most stability in models that are 6" thick.
- Put Your Paddle Down Before You Try to Stand
When you place your board in the water, don’t immediately hop atop and expect to stand. Instead, sit on your knees with your paddle in hand. Then hold the paddle shaft flat against the board as you kneel to balance you.
- Next, Check You Knee (and Foot) Placement
It's critical you position yourself before standing. As you kneel, ensure each knee is next to—not atop—the center handle. When you rise, this will help keep you centered properly and prevent potentially too-close feet from throwing your balance.
- Are You Facing the Right Way?
It’s silly, but make certain you’re not
- Get Your Bearings in Calm, Flat Water Rather than Windy Breaks
It’s important to climb onto your board in the calmest, flattest water possible. As Isle Surf and Sup instructors recommend, this allows your board the greatest amount of stability as you practice your paddling. Flat water means you won’t have to work to keep your balance.
- Though it's Counterintuitive, Keep your Knees Bent Instead of Locked
As you rise from your kneeling position on the board into a standing one, do so slowly. Stay centered in the middle of the board, and keep a slight bend in your knees. Locking your knees will exhaust your muscles, and your core is the most important part to work when standing.
- Take Your Time as You Get Comfortable
Go slowly at first—paddle boards can become wobbly in choppy water or with wakes of other watercraft. If you start to stand but lose your balance, drop back down to your knees. This keeps you from falling off the board and will allow you to stand easily again when ready.
- Don't Forget to Grab and Grip Your Paddle
As you begin to stand, don’t forget that paddle. Once you’re on your feet, grip your paddle at an angle—one that allows you to bend your elbows to 90 degrees for easy strokes. Lastly, keep the blade angle facing away from your body.
- Now That You're Standing, Keep Your Stance
Once you’re comfortable and firmly planted on the board, position yourself to keep that stance. Your feet should be parallel, facing forward and hip-width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent as you paddle, softening the pressure on your legs.
What Happens if You Do Fall… or Off Your Board?
When a fall occurs reposition yourself to get back on easier. The center handle is your ally. Reach across your board and pulling yourself on so you’re centered. From there, you can get on your knees and stand without losing stability.
Make Sure to Rely on Your Dominant Hand if You Enter the Water.
Your dominant hand is strongest, so grasp your paddle in your weaker hand and use your favored side to pull yourself onto the paddle board. This offsets your weight in just the right way to achieve balance.
What do if I'm Struggling to Stay Balanced?
When All Else Fails, Sit Down.
Feeling rocky? Sit immediately. Whenever you feel yourself starting to lose your footing or your balance, it’s best to drop down onto the surface of your board. This re-stabilizes you—you’re less likely to fall when sitting or kneeling—and you can regain your bearings before rising.
What Should You Do if You Encounter an Obstacle?
As you paddle, the water won’t always be free and clear. So, should you encounter an obstacle like a plant, a dock, or even a small change in route kneeling or sitting can help get you through it. This ensures you’ll stay balanced while maneuvering, allowing you to paddle with more strength.
Should I Stroke to Keep Myself Balanced and Upright?
If you’re worried about making strokes with your paddle while wobbling on your paddle board practice before you hop onboard. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the pushing and pulling motion of paddling on land, where balance isn’t tough.
Sometimes, Kneeling is Easier—so Drop to Your Knees Before You Fall.
As mentioned above, hitting your knees is the best way to prevent a splashy fall into the water. One of the great benefits of paddle boarding is that it can be done sitting, kneeling, or standing. It's always a good idea to rest by dropping onto your board if you feel unstable.
What Happens if I Try to Move While Paddling?
As you paddle, you may move a bit—even on traction pads. If you’re interested in moving more, though, you certainly can. Just maintain your balance by keeping your eyes on the horizon, your shoulders and head upright, and your hips forward to control your core.
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