How to Paddle Board: 7 Tips for Beginners

how to paddle boardSummer is on its way and with it comes paddle boarding.

Paddle boarding has jumped in popularity over the past few years. In 2014, 21.7 million Americans took to the water on their paddle boards, and that number continues to grow.

If you want to join in on the fun but don’t know where to start, don’t worry. Keep reading to learn how to paddle board with our top 7 tips for beginners.

Top 7 Beginner Tips to Learn How to Paddle Board

1. Choose the right equipment.

Paddleboards come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and price points, so choosing the best board for you can seem like a daunting task.

To narrow your search, you should decide whether you have the storage space and transportation method necessary for a solid board, which can easily hit 10 feet in length and a few hundred pounds in weight.

If that doesn’t suit you, consider an inflatable board instead. They offer the same stability and speed as solid boards for a fraction of the weight. And, when you’re done paddling, you can simply deflate them and stow them away.

To choose the right size for your paddle, reach your up over your head and keep it slightly bent. That’s how long your paddle should be—roughly 6-8 inches taller than you.

Next, be sure you have some kind of personal flotation device. The U.S. Coast Guard classifies a paddle board as a vessel, which means you’re legally required to wear a life jacket or other flotation device while in the water with one.

A personal flotation device has the added bonus of keeping you safe while you’re paddle boarding, so don’t forget it.

You may also want to invest in a leash for your paddle board. This tethers you to your board so, if you fall off, your board stays with you.

Always be sure to wear appropriate clothing and bring along sun protection, too. If you’re planning to paddle in cold waters, invest in a wetsuit for optimal insulation against low temperatures.

2. Start out on dry land.

You may feel silly at first, but when you’re learning how to paddle board, having some steady land beneath your feet can build your confidence and improve your sense of balance.

Choose a quiet spot with enough space to set up your board and practice. Set your board down and get your paddle ready. Practice standing up and making paddling motions here first before taking your skills out to sea.

3. Practice standing up on your paddleboard.

Since you’re starting out on dry land, you’ll have to kneel down in the dirt for this step. Things will get more comfortable once you move out into the water, but for now, it’s ok to get a little sandy.

Climb on your paddle board in a kneeling position with both knees facing the nose of your board. Hold your paddle horizontally in front of you as a balance tool. Then place one foot on your board, followed by the other, and stand up slowly.

For the perfect paddle boarding stance, keep your feet parallel and about hip distance apart. Stand toward the front of your board mat, but not too far forward. Practice keeping your knees a little bent and your back straight.

4. Learn how to paddle.

To practice paddling, stand up on your board and hold your paddle to one side.

Be sure it’s facing front—it should curve slightly inward—and grip the middle of your paddle. Anchor your other hand on the top and start paddling.

As you’re paddling, practice making five to seven strokes on each side of your board before switching. When you’re on the water, this will help you stay stable and keep you gliding straight forward instead of turning to one side.

During a normal paddle, you should stand close the front center of your board. When you’re turning, however, move a few steps backward. This will let the nose of your board lift up a little bit, making it easy for you to maneuver.

Then paddle forward—meaning your strokes lead away from you—to make your turn.

5. Take your board out to sea.

Choose your starting spot carefully. You want it to be relatively clear of people and shallow enough that you can stand next to your board, but not so shallow that a fall will send you flying into the sand.

Pay attention to the water’s conditions. If the waves are particularly choppy, it may not be the best day for you to learn how to paddle board. Pick a mild day with calm waves when you’re just starting out.

Stand beside your board and practice climbing on using the method you perfected on the beach. Once you’re up and stable, start paddling! Keep your eyes forward—not on your feet—and head out.

6. Don’t be afraid of falling off.

You will probably take a few tumbles off of your board when you’re just starting out. That’s ok—in fact, it’s expected.

The great thing about paddle boarding is the effects of falling off are pretty minimal. If you do fall, try to do it as safely as possible, then climb back on your board and start again.

If you’re having trouble staying upright, try moving faster. It may seem counterintuitive, but the extra momentum actually improves your stability and keeps you standing longer.

With practice, you’ll be able to hold your footing, even over that next wave.

7. Bring a friend along.

Paddle boarding with buddies can, of course, make it a more enjoyable experience, but the added manpower has another benefit, too. Having another hand or two can be a big help when you’re still learning how to paddle board.

Your paddle boarding team can help you steady your board in the water when you’re learning to stand and can help you retrieve it if you do fall.

And, as with any water sport, the more people on deck to help you stay safe, the better.

For more tips on how to paddle board and the latest reviews on new paddle boarding products, contact Paddleboard Thrills.

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