So, you’ve seen stand up paddleboarding on Instagram, in magazines, or maybe at your nearest beach or lake. And you think it looks wonderful! You’re right about that. However, there are a few things you should know before you give it a go yourself.
In this post, we’ll give you some essential information about stand up paddleboarding. It includes a brief overview of this hugely popular board sport, what you need to pack, and some top tips for getting started among other things. Let’s take a closer look!
What is stand up paddleboarding?
Stand up paddleboarding is now one of the world’s most popular water sports, but it hasn’t always been that way. The modern incarnation of SUP was invented in Hawaii in the 1940s, with some saying it was a way to get out on a board when the winds or waves weren’t big enough to surf.
As well as using paddle boards as a way of getting from A to B, you can enjoy SUP yoga, SUP surfing, and professionals even do SUP touring.
SUP can be done anywhere that there’s a large enough body of water. So, if you don’t live near the beach, don’t worry. You can do it on rivers and lakes too!
What to pack for stand up paddleboarding
There are a few essentials that you’ll need to pack for stand up paddleboarding, and a few things that will just make your session a little more comfortable. Let’s start with the key equipment first.
- Stand up paddleboard: Probably the most obvious piece of kit you’d need for this sport. It’s important to choose the right paddle board though. The first choice to make is if you want a hard board or an iSUP. Inflatable boards are good for beginners, but a hardboard may be a sensible investment should you be hoping to surf or tour in the future.
- Paddle: You can’t have a paddleboard without a paddle! These should be around 8 – 9 inches longer than your total height (that’s about 25cm). If you’re planning on multiple uses for your SUP, it’s best to get a height-adjustable one – paddles for surf SUP shouldn’t be as long as when regular paddling. They’re available from several different materials – from aluminium to carbon fiber.
- Personal Floatation Device: While a SUP and paddle are obvious requirements for the sport, a PFD is less so. However, it is no less important. A PFD will keep you afloat should you fall from your board, but hopefully it will be something that you hardly notice the more you paddle. Also consider a good PFD for your dog, if you’re bringing him or her!
- Leash: The other key piece of safety equipment that you’ll need for paddleboarding is a leash. While a PFD will keep you afloat, a leash will ensure that you remain attached to your board. It most commonly fits around your ankle. SUP leashes are thicker and longer than surf leashes – so don’t expect a surf leash to do the job if you already have one.
Other equipment that is good to have when stand up paddle boarding would be sunscreen, a swimsuit (wetsuit if in cold waters), and a dry bag to carry your belongings in.
Tips for stand up paddle boarding beginners
Start somewhere calm and with plenty of space
When learning the basics of stand up paddleboarding, you’ll need to have lots of space – just in case you fall over.
You may not be able to stand up straight away, but that’s nothing to worry about. Distribute your weight evenly across the board and if needs be, get up by one knee at a time. It’s best to practice on calm and flat water to begin with too. If paddleboarding at a beach, try to find a spot with small and soft waves!
Learn to take a fall
We mentioned early how important it is to have a leash and PFD to protect you from falling. Another secret of SUP is how to fall. Be sure not to fall into the board, but away from it.
If you fall into the board, you won’t hurt your face – as you can get a broken nose even from an iSUP if you hit it head-on. Don’t be discouraged if you fall off your board early on – even the best paddlers will have fallen off in their early days!
Know your limits
This rule doesn’t just apply to paddleboarding, but any sport. There are two reasons not to do this and the first is your enjoyment.
If you don’t know your own limits, you may try and take too much on with paddleboarding, leading to frustration and the possibility you may give up the sport.
The second is safety. Both your own and that of others. If your paddleboarding in a group, be sure to respect those around you so that everyone can enjoy it!
Health Benefits of Stand up Paddleboarding
Great core workout
Many people start stand up paddleboarding for its obvious health benefits – both physical and mental. The core is constantly engaged during stand up paddleboarding, developing muscle tone and aiding stability and balance. The twisting and turning will even help you to build up abs of steel.
It’s not just the core that’s engaged though – SUP is a low impact sport that works muscles throughout the body. Your legs will be working with you core to keep you upright on the board, while your arms and shoulders will be propelling you through the water when paddling.
Good for mental health
Last but not least, few sports are so good for your mental health. SUP is a mental and physical challenge, in which our brain releases endorphins and serotonin – chemicals that make us happy. Add in that you’re surrounded by calming water and nature in most instances, and it’s the ideal escape from the stresses of everyday life!