In case you didn’t know there is far more to SUP boarding then simply standing up. From your balance to your board, there are plenty of factors that can make or break your first paddle board experience.
We don’t want you to miss out on all the fun, so we’ve made a simple and easy list of SUP Mistakes to Avoid. You don’t need master SUP skills or a superior paddling technique to have an enjoyable time out on the water. Just keep these things in mind and you will be stand up paddleboarding with the best of ‘em!
10 COMMON MISTAKES MADE WHEN
LEARNING TO PADDLE BOARD
BEGINNER PADDLE BOARD MISTAKE #1: GOING UNLEASHED
Don’t ever go out on the water without a leash. If you aren't properly tethered when you fall off (which as a first timer you will), you can quickly become separated from your paddleboard and stranded far from shore. And that’s NOT a fun scenario. Even if you’re taking a quick dip, always remain leashed. It only takes a second for that wily board to drift away when your not paying attention.
BEGINNER PADDLE BOARD MISTAKE #2: PADDLING THE WRONG WAY
One of the most common mistakes when paddleboarding is using the paddle backwards. It’s the ultimate rookie move. The blade of a SUP paddle has a slight bend when held straight up and down. It may feel counterintuitive when holding the paddle the correct way, with the blade pointing towards the front of the board. This allows for a smoother stroke and less stress on your elbows and shoulders. Making sure the blade is facing the right direction helps stabilize the paddle when pulling it through the water.
BEGINNER PADDLE BOARD MISTAKE #3: USING THE PADDLE AS A PUSH POLE
Don’t use you paddle to push-off the bottom of a lake, river or ocean. In shallow waters you may be inclined to propel yourself using your paddle like a push pole but this can do serious damage. Applying that kind of pressure to a SUP paddle can bend the shaft or warp your blade. Or, even worse, break the blade from the shaft. There are push poles designed for this exact purpose, so don’t ruin a good time by misusing your paddle.
BEGINNER PADDLE BOARD MISTAKE #4: STORING PADDLE BOARD IN THE SUN
Always remember to store your board in a shady, dry place. SUP boards are made for fun in the sun, but prolonged exposure to UV rays can destroy it. Direct sunlight over an extended amount of time causes discoloration, delamination, cracking and even splitting. Preserve your boards integrity and always make sure it’s out of the sun when you’re between SUP sessions.
BEGINNER PADDLE BOARD MISTAKE #5: LETTING YOUR FIN HIT SAND
Be aware of shallow waters. Scuffing your SUP fin on the sand can damage it. And a damaged fin dramatically reduces a boards performance. The fin’s water-tight skin and foam core can be broken upon impact with sand. So, avoid surfing the shoreline, and always lay your board fin up when laying it down on the beach.
BEGINNER PADDLE BOARD MISTAKE #6: CONFUSING THE FRONT AND BACK OF THE BOARD
This one seems like a silly mistake but it’s actually quite common. Though SUP boards come in different shapes and sizes, most are long, and oval. This can make it confusing to a beginner as to which end is front or back. Some boards have bungee cords on the front to store belongings and a traction pad towards the back. Usually, a safe bet is determining the back end by the fin and ankle strap.
BEGINNER PADDLE BOARD MISTAKE #7: FOCUSING ON THE WRONG POINT
Don’t look down. As a first-timer you will instinctively want to watch your feet, however this really screws with your balance, causing you to rock on your heels and topple into the water. Watching the horizon a few feet in front of you helps you stabilize and gain your sea-legs. Always remember to relax and focus on where you’re going.
BEGINNER PADDLE BOARD MISTAKE #8: NOT USING THE WHOLE BODY
SUP boarding is a full body workout. It doesn’t matter if you’re touring still waters or surfing the waves, you have to use more than just your arms to paddle. You will wear out quickly if you fail to utilize your legs, core and back muscles. In the long run, not only will you be a more efficient, paddler, you will maintain a stable pace, feel more comfortable and have much more energy.
BEGINNER PADDLE BOARD MISTAKE #10: GETTING IN THE WAY
Be mindful of your surroundings. Most big bodies of water have designated surf, swim and boat zones. Of course you should always avoid swimming areas. No one wants to be hit in the head with a giant board. And paying attention in the surf zone is crucial, especially for a beginner. Don’t hog the waves, and steer clear of more experienced paddlers and surfers until you're sure not to get in the way. Make plenty of space for yourself as you learn to master the art of SUP boarding!