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SUPing Basics


Rule number 1 - plan on getting wet and, based on your swimming ability and the conditions, you should plan on wearing a PFD or life jacket.  Rule number two - never leave your board.  If you lose your paddle you can paddle back to retrieve it with your hands. If you let go of you paddle board, even a light breeze or boat wake wind can push it away faster than most people can swim. You can also use a an ankle or waist leash to keep in contact with your board.
Start by paddling upwind rather than down wind. Paddling into the wind can be strenuous so pace yourself and stay aware of the conditions.


Paddle boards will tend to tip from side to side depending on the type of paddle board you are using. When starting SUPing we recommend a stable inflatable like the Surftech iSUP or the NRS Big Earl, or a specialized board like the Liquid Logic Versa Board.  Stand facing straight forward with a wide stanceand you feet parallel to your shoulders. To reposition your feet take little steps - nothing dramatic. Keep your knees bent and relaxed, and keep your hips loose. Your paddle is your source for balance, as well as propulsion.  Push the paddle blade forward or backward to keep from falling, and even lean on it or pull up on it as needed for balance. Keep your paddle in the water as much as possible and never let go of it.

Foot Position

Stand in the middle of the board. Too far forward will sink the nose. Too far back will drag the tail and slow you down. You generally want to maintain a wide centered parallel stance for long-distance paddling on flat water because itís more stable and gives you easier, even paddle transitions from side to side. But when the surface is choppy or youíre in waves, youíll want to adopt a more fore and aft stance with your dominant foot forward just as in surfing. Attach your safety leash to your back foot.


Start by reaching forward with your paddle blade near the front of your paddle board.  Keep the paddle close to your board with the paddle's shaft above the top edge or rail with your top hand directly above your bottom hand.  Stroke backwards. Visualize pulling the board forward in the water. Donít try to extend the stroke too far past your legs - that angles the blade too much and pulls the edge of the board down. There are two main reasons the blade is bent forward. The bend makes the blade more stable in the water and it improves the release of the blade as you pull it up and start a new stroke.  Stroking too far back defeats that smooth release.  Paddle from side to side to control the direction of your boardand to keep it on course. As your skills develop you will be able to track straight uo to 18 or more paddles before switching sides.

Happy Feet

At first you keep your feet still so you arenít tipping the board. As your balance improves you can move around the board more. In flat water you need to initiate this learning by forcing yourself to move your feet around. Shift from centered to fore and aft stance. Move your back foot more towards the tail then back centered again.
Get comfortable using your feet for balance and manuevering and have fun!
Want to do more, learn more?  Check out the calendar for SUP intro lessons - click here.

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Tags: sup basics  safety  intro 

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