If you’re entering the world of stand up paddleboarding, or SUP, there’s a lot to consider. Different boards, different types of water environments to traverse, choices of paddles — all are important factors to consider, and which could determine the quality of your experience. Here are five mistakes beginning stand up paddleboarders make, and how to make the right call.
Beginners should stick to flat, calmer waters. Heading out into the surf, even a gentle ocean surf, when you are first trying to learn how to stand up and balance on the board will almost guarantee you getting dunked time and time again. Instead of the ocean, take your first step into SUP on a lake or inlet. The smoother waters will give you a better chance at mastering what is probably the most important paddling skill: balance.
Being out amongst a large group of paddlers may sound like fun, but not for a beginner. There will paddlers of varying skill levels to contend with. More people in the water equals more wake, potentially leading to your getting dumped off your board to a frustrating degree. For these same reasons stay away from areas that are popular with boaters.
Conversely, paddling is best done with a partner. As with any water sport, there is some risk for injury with paddleboarding so going alone is a chance no one — even an experienced paddler — should take. There’s safety and more fun in numbers! Go along with some of your more experienced friends to pick up helpful tips and techniques.
Choose the right board for your needs. Beginners should go for stability first and foremost. Learning how to balance will be your primary obstacle. Having the right length paddle is essential as well. This will eliminate unnecessary stopping or bending, which is tiring and can interfere with your stability on the board.
Probably the principal error beginners make is holding their paddle incorrectly. The proper technique is to hold the paddle so that the blade is facing at an angle away from you, not toward you.
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