Everyone wants to learn how to stand up paddleboard as they watch others out in the water. In reality, we love to watch them go in the water. When they don’t and seem to glide through the water, we think to ourselves that it must be fairly easy to do – that is, until we actually get up on one. Suddenly, we’re the ones losing our balance and going in the water…not once, not twice, but over and over again.
There’s a trick to being able to stand and paddle. It takes a few times but most people figure it out and end up having the best time. Here are some tips to help you learn how to paddleboard:
Get the Size Right
The size of the board is very important. The longer and wider the board, the easier it is to paddle. Shorter boards are faster; thinner boards require more balance. If you are a beginner, be sure to get a nice long, flat board so you can learn how to balance and paddle correctly without constantly going into the water.
Be Sure the Water is Smooth Enough
If you want to learn how to stand up paddleboard, be sure the conditions are right: little to no wind and smooth water. Anna Maria Island is an excellent place to learn this popular beach activity because you have a choice between the Bay, canals, or the Gulf. Typically, one of them is smooth. Once you get the hang of it, you can challenge yourself a bit more.
When you look at the paddle, it is logical to think the bend at the throat of the paddle points back. If you hold it that way, you are a dead giveaway as a green pea to paddle boarding. Flip the paddle around so the bend faces in your direction. No questions – just turn it that way. Once you have it facing correctly, put one hand on the top at the handle — the opposite hand from the side on which you paddle — with the other one about half way down the shaft. Keep your arms straight and put the paddle in the water out in front of you and push/pull back. It is much the same motion as canoing or kayaking — you’re just standing up.
Start on Your Knees
We see this all the time. A family rents a paddleboard for the week then spends a lot of their time trying to stand up on it. But, a little known secret to getting up faster is to start paddling on your knees to get some momentum. Once you get going, stand up and paddle. Not only is it easier, you get to spend more time on the board than in the water.
How to Stand Up Paddleboard
The trick with paddle boarding is all in the balance. Once you’re up, you need to stay up and paddle. When you stand, make sure your feet are about hip distance apart and your feet face forward. You can bend your knees a little but not too much. When you are paddling, be sure not to put all the weight on your toes and balls of your feet. You’ll have much more balance if you spread the weight throughout your whole foot. Also, when you stand up, you want to be just behind the halfway spot of the board so it can move more easily through the water. You have to find your sweet spot.
Wear a Leash
Another thing we see is that people who are not familiar with the sport spend a decent amount of time swimming after the board when they fall off. The current can grab hold of the board and off it goes so wear a leash so you can keep up with it. Plus, you look cool with the leash around our ankle.
Just Go In
If you feel like you are losing your balance, don’t fight it – just go in the water. Lots of people get banged up when they try to fight to stay up. It’s easier and safer to go in the water then get back up on it and start again (remember, on your knees).
For most people, getting started is 90 percent of the battle. Once you learn how to stand up paddleboard, you are going to love it. It is the only sport that is as relaxing as it is vigorous. Kind of an oxymoron, don’t you think? If you’ve never done it, beware that your muscles feel it the next day but don’t let that stop you. Get right back out there and enjoy another day.
If you want to learn from the pros, there are paddleboard rental companies that provide lessons for beginners and rent paddleboards for a day or the full week. They can take you on eco tours or just get out with you to explore the island’s beautiful waterways. Stand up paddleboarding is fun for the whole family — it’s definitely a must-have on your Anna Maria Island vacation!