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5 Common Paddle Boarding Mistakes – Plus Helpful Tips

If you’re new to paddle boarding and looking to learn and improve, then this video is for you. Here are five common beginner mistakes and how to avoid them:

Mistake 1: Holding the Paddle Backwards

The first and most common mistake beginners make is holding the paddle incorrectly. Many intuitively hold the paddle with the blade angle facing towards them, thinking it will grab more water and propel them forward faster. However, this actually scoops and pushes the water up, instead of efficiently powering you forward. The correct way to hold the paddle is with the blade angle facing forward or away from you. This allows you to push the water straight back, conserving energy, going faster, and preventing any shoulder or arm injuries. To help you remember which way to hold your paddle, note that some paddle handles have grooves for your fingers, making it feel awkward if held incorrectly. Also, some paddle designs have a logo or spine on the blade, typically placed on the forward-facing side of the paddle, and should be pointed away from you.

Mistake 2: Struggling to Paddle Straight

Another common mistake is struggling to paddle in a straight line. To improve your technique, place the entire blade of the paddle in the water as close to your board as possible and keep the paddle as vertical as possible as you pull it back towards you. Avoid angling your paddle and creating a “C” shape in the water with your blade. Remember to keep your bottom arm straight, and your top arm over your head and across your body. Adjust the length of your paddle if you’re having difficulty vertically planting your paddle with the blade fully submerged. Avoid shifting your weight and putting pressure on the foot of the side you’re paddling on. Center your weight with each paddle stroke to keep your board level in the water. An angle on the board will slowly turn it to the side you’re paddling on.

Mistake 3: Not Having Proper Safety Equipment or Knowledge of Local Laws

Ensure you have the proper safety equipment and knowledge of local laws and regulations. For example, there are specific requirements when paddle boarding in different states in the USA. At a minimum, you’ll need a leash to keep your paddle board with you at all times, a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD), a fully charged communication device like a cell phone in a waterproof secure case, and a sound signaling device like a whistle. Safety should always be the top priority regardless of your local area’s rules and regulations.

Mistake 4: Neglecting to Check Weather Conditions

Always check and understand the weather conditions before heading out on your paddle adventure. Use dedicated apps or websites like Windy or Windfinder to determine the wind speed and direction, swell, and, where applicable, the currents and tides. Assess the risks of the area you’re paddling in, taking into account the weather forecast for the duration of your paddle, water temperatures, and boating traffic. Stay informed and prepared to ensure a safe and enjoyable paddling experience.

Mistake 5: Assuming You Have to Stand Up

Remember, paddle boarding can be whatever you want it to be. It should be fun and not stressful. You can sit on your paddle board to enjoy a sunset, a sunrise, or take in the beautiful surroundings. If you are looking to stand, check out the video on how to paddle board for beginners for useful tips to stand up and balance.

That’s a wrap! Ensure your safety, have fun, and enjoy your paddle boarding adventures.

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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.