starboard 2022 inflatable sup paddle boards

5 Mistakes Every Beginner Paddle Boarder makes

Ethan, certified SUP coach, gives us a few tips for the 5 most common mistakes a beginner paddle boarder makes. Have you been trying paddle boarding but can’t seem to find your balance, paddle in a straight line or simply getting into the water properly? Then this video is for you. Ethan be sharing five tips to help you master paddle boarding. Let’s dive into it.

All right, nobody likes to look like a newbie, so this tip is to help you to avoid just that. Most people forget that there’s actually a fin below their paddle board, which allows you to track more straight as you’re paddling in the water. But unfortunately, most people forget that it’s there, so when they go to get into the water for the first time with their paddle board, they walk a little bit into the water, they put their board down, they get on, they try to paddle and oh, they’re stuck on the beach because their fin is on the beach behind them still in shallow water. To avoid making this simple mistake, be sure to simply walk into the water towards at least up to your knees, then you can put your board in the water and then you get on your board and start paddling away. This simply ensures that there’s enough depth in the water for your fin below your paddle board.

All paddles have a curve to their blade, and with this curve you always want to make sure it’s facing in the direction you want to paddle, never in reverse. This is the big mistake that most beginner paddlers make as they enter the water with their blade in reverse allowing them to paddle less efficiently. The reason the blade has a curve and the reason you want to have the curve facing in the direction you want to paddle is, because it allows the blade to enter more efficiently into the water and allows you to pull yourself to the blade more easily. This allows you to paddle more forward and less down. By paddling in the correct position you’re going to save yourself more energy, you’re going to paddle faster, and you’re going to help protect your body by causing less harm to your shoulders as you’re pulling yourself through the water in a more efficient manner. So remember the curve of the blade always faces in the direction you want to go, never in reverse.

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to balance on your paddle board, why you can’t seem to paddle in a straight line? Well the first thing you do is look down at where your feet are on the paddle board. So every stand up paddleboard actually comes with a carry handle. This handle acts as a reference point to the center part of the board. What you want to do is make sure you’re standing on either side of this handle, about shoulder width apart. This will ensure that you’re always standing in the center most stable part of the stand up paddle board. Too far forward or too far back behind this handle, you’re going to have less stability and you’re not going to paddle very straight as you paddle along.

Now obviously you’re all at different heights and that’s exactly why your paddle is actually made to adjust to your correct height. Unfortunately most beginner paddlers don’t know what that correct height is, so they either have their paddle way too tall or way too short and they have a really hard time trying to paddle efficiently in the water. The best rule of thumb when it comes to adjusting your paddle to the correct height for just casual paddling, is actually raising it to be one shakka above your head, or more or less to where your arm is almost straight but still has some bend to it. Having your paddle set to the correct height will allow you to paddle more efficiently and feel more stable while paddling on your paddle board.

Obviously the biggest learning curve when it comes to stand-up paddling is how to let your body naturally balance on the board. Unfortunately the biggest mistake that most beginner paddlers make, is they’re always looking down at their feet when they’re trying to balance on their paddle board. The reason why you don’t want to be looking down at your feet or paddle board, because you’re seeing all the movement or the motion of the water over your feet and just so you’re naturally going to feel more motion and less stability in your body as well. The better thing to be looking at is the horizon in front of you. By fixing your eyes on the horizon, you naturally feel more stable because the horizon itself is more stable than the feet below you. Simple rule of thumb as well, look where you want to go. If you’re looking down, you’re naturally going to fall down. If you’re looking forward, you’re naturally going to go forward. So look where you want to go.

More tips for beginner inflatable paddle boards, can be found in our how-to section.

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About the author: Julian Kidd
I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from a decade of professional kiteboarding to focus on SUP. Green Water Sports grew from this love of all things SUP. As well as being a keen paddle boarder, I'm a football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.