Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, is much more than paddling along calm water. Yoga, rapids, waves all add some extra fun to your paddle. Originating in Hawaii, where it’s called hoe he’e nalu, SUP has been around for nearly two decades and has been one of the fastest growing sports in recent years according to the Outdoor Foundation.
With an easy learning curve, paddleboarders stand on a large boards (many resemble surfboards, some are inflatable) using a paddle to travel across lakes, rivers, oceans, and more. It might not seem like it, but paddleboarding is a fantastic low-impact workout for the arms, legs and core. You’ll be amazed by how physical SUP can be.
With the summer on the horizon, it’s a perfect time to start planning your SUP adventures. If you’re not near the ocean, that’s no problem. The majority of paddlers never ride waves. Lakes and rivers are just as fun to explore on a paddle board.
Helpful tips for first time paddleboarders.
Selecting your board: Having the correct size board is very important. You want a board that is large enough to keep you steady with each paddle. For most adults a 10’6” board is a great place to start. If you trend on the heavier side, then step up board size a few feet to make sure there is enough buoyancy.
Paddle Length: The easiest way to find your optimum paddle length is to stand with your paddle in front of you, blade touching the ground, and reach your arm up as high as you can. The handle of the paddle should rest in your palm. For surfers, you’ll want a shorter paddle to speed up your cadence.
Learn The Ideal Paddle Stroke: Learning to paddle efficiently will increase your enjoyment and help you paddle longer. Find an instructor for help or watch a tutorial online. Ideally, you keep both arms as straight as possible and stand in the middle of your board, with your feet just about a little more than shoulder-width apart. Imagine pulling your body to the paddle. Once the stroke reaches your leg / foot, the most powerful part of the stroke is done.
Focus On Where You Want To Go: Beginners often look down at the board or feet when paddling, decreasing stability. Once you get your paddle stroke down, keep your head and eyes forwarding, focused on where you want to go.
Enjoy Yourself: One of the best things about paddleboarding is you can go at your own pace. Everyone was a beginner when they started, don’t worry about looking silly.