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How to Stand-Up Paddle Board

Matt Gibson —  August 24, 2012 — 1 Comment

Why would you want to know how to stand-up paddle boardThere are lots of reasons.

1. The picture above. Doesn’t that look nice?

2. It’s easy.

3. It’s kind of like walking on water which, historically, very few people have been able to do.

4. It’s a good workout for your whole body, especially your core.

5. You can do it pretty much any place that has more than six inches of water.

6. After you’ve paid for the board and paddle, it’s basically free.

How to Stand-Up Paddle Board

Stand-up paddle boarding is one of the easiest board sports to learn. Even the most uncoordinated person should be able to hop on a board and be paddling in a matter of minutes.  In this post I cover the basic behind learning to stand-up paddle board so that you’ll know what to expect when you get on the water.

Before you get to the water, however, you’re going to have to carry one of these enormous beasts. So, here are two ways to carry your stand-up paddle board.

How to Carry a Stand-Up Paddle Board Under Your Arm

A lot of stand-up paddle boards have a narrow hole in the top of the board near the centre for you to use as a handle when so that you can carry the board under your arm. If you are carrying the board a short distance under your arm using the handle, no instruction is necessary. The act is self-explanatory.

There is, however, one caveat: be careful of the wind. When being carried this way the large flat board catches wind like a sail. Try to keep the tip of the board pointed into the wind as much as possible.

How to Carry a Stand-Up Paddle Board on Your Head

If your board doesn’t have a handle or you’re planning to carry it a long distance, then you’ll want to carry it on your head.

How to do it:

1. Place the board upside down on the ground and put your paddle beside it.

2. Walk to the rear of the board, grasp the rails (sides), and lift it over your head.

3. Slowly walk forward and walk your hands up the rail of the board.

4. When your head is just shy of the centre of the board, lower the board onto your head. Grasp the rails of the board 30 – 60 cm in front of your head.

5. Keeping your back straight, kneel down and carefully pick up your paddle with one hand.

6. Place the paddle on top of the rail and hold it in place while holding the rail with your hand.

7. Stand-up and start walking.

How to Stand-Up on Your Paddle Board

Stand-up paddle boards are very stable and most people will feel comfortable standing up on their paddle board right away. The basic motions begin with laying on the paddle board, then kneeling, and then standing up. If you feel a little wobbly, you may prefer to practice paddling around on your knees first before standing all the way up. What’s most important is that you feel comfortable and enjoy yourself.

How to do it:

1. Stand beside your paddle board in thigh-deep water. If there is somebody with you, hand them your paddle. If not, place the paddle between the middle and front of the board perpendicular (sideways) to the direction of the board.

2. Grasp both the rails of the board in your hands about 30-60 cm in front of the centre of the board.

3. Move lower your chest toward the centre of the board and swing the leg nearest the board up and onto it. Then swing the other leg up onto it. Presto, you’re laying on the board.

4. Now grasp the rails of the board beside your shoulders and push your upper body up off of the board.

5. Bring on knee up under your chest and then the other.

6. Straighten your back and let go of the rails. Now you’re kneeling.

Note: If you don’t feel comfortable standing quite yet, grab your paddle and start paddling. 

7. Grab you paddle in one hand. Place one foot flat on the board in front of you so that you’re only on one knee.
Lift yourself up. Now you’re standing.

Paddling Your Stand-Up Paddle Board

Paddling the paddle board an intuitive motion and doesn’t really require much instruction. Although it may feel awkward at first, it will get better with time.

How to do it:

1. Stand in the middle of the paddle board facing the front with your feet shoulder width apart,  your knees slightly bent, and your toes pointing forward.

2. Look forwards, not at your feet.

3. Hold the paddle with both hands. If you’re going to paddle on your right side, then your right hand will hold the middle of the shaft and your left hand will hold the top. If the blade of the paddle is on an angle, then it should be angled toward the direction you want to go.

4. Push the blade into the water near the side of the board as far in front of you as feels comfortable. Pull the paddle toward you propelling the board forwards. As you pull the paddle, rotate your upper body moving the shoulder on the paddle side of the board toward the rear of the board. As you become more comfortable paddling, you’ll find that it’s your core, and not your arms, that provide the power for paddling.

5. Once the paddle has passed behind you, repeat.
When you paddle on the right, the board will veer left and vice-versa. Keep yourself going straight by switching sides every stroke or two.

6. If you want to turn, paddle continuously on one side. If you want to turn even more sharply, as you cruise forwards, paddle backward (or simply hold the paddle up and down in the water) on the side of the direction in which you’d like to turn.

Conclusion

That’s it. You’ve now done your part to ensure that stand up paddle boarding remains the fastest growing sport in the US. Keep it up, and perhaps one day you will fall into glorious paddle boarding love, like my girlfriend Emilie and I.

stand up paddle board couple kissing

Aww. Isn’t that sweet?

Lead image by Simonds

About Matt Gibson

Matt Gibson is three-time Canadian expat who splits his time between Tainan, Taiwan and Cranbrook, British Columbia, and traveling, all the while working as the About.com Snowboarding Guide and freelancing as an inbound marketing consultant and travel writer and photographer.

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