Stand up paddle boarding is such a great and accessible sport for everyone no matter age, size or ability, which is why it’s popularity has boomed over the past few years. In addition, the rate of progression is much faster than other board sports. This speed of progression all begins with balance, which is why we’ve broken down our top balancing tips for paddle boarding beginners below.
Choose The Right Equipment
As with any sport, using the correct equipment for your ability is paramount to progression. With paddle boards, whether it be an inflatable or solid, a wider board is more stable than a narrower one. It’s also important to note that the more you weigh and taller you are, the larger your board should be. To start off with, we recommend an all-round paddle board, which usually have a round nose and vary in length from 9’6” to 12’. These all-round boards work well in a variety of conditions and the stability will help you in getting to your feet. As you improve and progress, you may feel comfortable moving down to a smaller, more manoeuvrable board or something more specialised like a race or surf SUP.
After choosing the right equipment, you also want to choose the right location and conditions for your level. Ideally, when beginning, calm waist deep water is best. This will make it much easier to get onto your board whilst allowing you to walk back to shore if you have any difficulties. The flat water means the board will stay still in the water so it will be far easier to retain your balance. It’s best to avoid choppy and turbulent waters as these conditions will be very tricky to maintain your balance in. We also advice against areas with strong currents and winds, as you can find yourself in trouble surprisingly quickly.
Check Your Positioning
Once you’ve found the ideal location with perfect conditions, the next step is positioning yourself on the board. As a beginner, it’s best to start kneeling down and once you feel balanced, you can progress to standing. You’ll want to position yourself in the centre of the board, with your feet or knees equally distanced from the centre handle, to evenly distribute your weight across the board. When you’re ready to transition from kneeling to standing, keep your knees bent to keep your centre of gravity low and try not to look down. If you find this difficult, you can put the paddle in front of you on the board and use it as a support to help you to your feet. Once you’re up, maintain an equal weight distribution with knees slightly bent and upper body in line with the hips and feet.
When you’re moving in the water, you’ll find yourself much more stable compared to when you are stationary. To get moving, place your top hand on the paddle handle and your bottom hand on the paddle shaft, a little wider than shoulder width apart. When you are kneeling, your top hand will move down from the handle and to the shaft of the paddle. With knees slightly bent, reach the paddle forward into the water and bring the stroke in line with the edge of the board, all the way back to your feet. To check your paddle is the right way round, make sure the blade is angled towards the nose of the board. Try to keep your paddle in the water at all times unless you are bringing it forward for another stroke. In case you do begin to wobble, bend your knees and put the paddle back in the water.
The best way to improve your balance is to practice. It’s something we all struggle with at the start but, with regular practice, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly your balance can improve!