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Top Tips for Your First Expedition with a SUP Board

The Stand Up Paddle Board is a remarkably lightweight and navigable watercraft suitable for hours of fun water play and an excellent workout. It is easy to learn and a highly addictive pastime you will never get enough of.

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But, before you can head out onto the open water and begin making headway, you will need a suitable craft. Selecting your very first SUP board is a topic in itself and should be done with specific considerations to your needs.

In the following article, we will assume you have already selected the board for you and are getting ready to head out onto the water for the first time. It is essential to master a few very basic techniques that can make you a better paddler. So without further ado, here is what you need to know when heading out on your SUP board for the first time.

1. Boarding and Standing

The first thing to know is how to get on your board and maintain balance. Place the board in shallow water, but not too shallow that the delicate fins are touching the bottom. With a firm grasp on the sides of your SUP board, you will crawl onboard into a kneeling position.

The sturdiest section is just behind the center of gravity indicated by the presence of handles on either side. Keep the board stable with your hands as you move from your knees to your feet – placing your feet directly below where your knees were.

At this point, don’t stand too quickly. Begin by raising your chest and torso and then moving from a squatting position to the standing position.

Keeping Balance:

Once standing, there are still some things to keep in mind while you are developing your “sea legs.”

Keep your eyes level with the horizon and avoid looking down at your feet. When you are going to adjust your position, do so by shifting weight with your hips. Always keep your toes pointed forward, and your knees slightly bent. The proper standing technique will help you move with the movement of the board.

2. The Basics of Movement

Stand Up Paddle Board

Once you have your feet and body well-balanced on your board, it’s time to begin moving about. The most common mistake a rookie paddler will make is in the positioning of their paddle. Most assume that the paddle curves toward the paddler, so as to scoop and dig through the water, but not so.

The correct way to hold the paddle is with the bent tip pointing into the direction you are moving. This makes for less splashing and more fluid motions. Check your hand placement as well. If your hands are too close together, you may be missing out on some of the leverage that makes paddling hours much easier.

To get hand positioning just right, raise the paddle over your head and rest the bar on the top of your head parallel to your shoulders. Now grip the paddle on the grip with one hand and ensure that your arm and elbow are bent at perfect 90° angles. Now slide the other hand across the paddle until it is also at a 90° angle. This is the correct positioning for your hands.

Engage Your Core

Learning the technique is not hard, and will come quite intuitively with regular practice. Another important technique that you must learn is not paddling with your arms. Your arms will tire quickly and will not have the strength to propel the SUP board for very long, either. It is far more efficient and effective to apply the awesome strength of your core and upper body strength to moving around.

Furthermore, applying the core muscles to your effort will engage one of the body’s most powerful and sexy muscle systems. SUP paddling is the perfect way to develop core strength that protects the organs, maintains good posture, and generally makes the physical function easier and more efficient.

Check Wind Direction

Don’t tire yourself out unnecessarily; there are ways to use the elements at your disposal to your advantage. For example, you standing on your SUP board work something like a sail – try holding a t-shirt spread out between your up-stretched arms and see for yourself. As you develop your skills, you will be able to use the wind to your advantage and learn to tack into the wind to get where you are going.

But, if this will be your first time, do yourself a favor and choose a nice calm day with mild wind and smooth water. Of course, if you should ever feel the wind is too strong for you to manage, simply lie on the board face down, paddle tucked under your body, and begin paddling with your arms – just like a surfboard.

3. Use a Leash

Your SUP board allows you to travel farther and faster than you can while swimming. This means that essentially, your SUP board is your floatation device and refuge on the open water. This also means that a leash and proper leash discipline is highly important to stay connected to your SUP board in rough water and windy conditions.

It is not so important to choose the coiled over the straight or attach to the ankle or calf. These things are a matter of preference. The important thing is to keep your leash on at all times. Furthermore, you will need a leash that can be disconnected easily if your SUP board becomes a hazard itself. If your Board is getting sucked into a current or gets entangled in underwater plants, it will be important to make an easy escape.

Furthermore, you should consider the advantages of having a proper paddle leash as well. This will avoid you having to swim out for it every so often.

4. Face the Right Direction

Please don’t laugh; not every land-lubber differentiates their bows and sterns or ports and starboards immediately. Facing the wrong direction can make it difficult to maneuver. This can be especially confusing on the all-rounder SUP, which has a rounder nose and looks basically the same at both ends.

The easiest way to tell which end is the bow (front) and the stern (back) is that the fins are located toward the craft’s back to keep the craft stable in the water.

5. Keeping Your Head Up

Beginners will often instinctually look at their toes when they are starting out on the board. This is only natural; after all, we assume that we can avoid falling into the water by looking at our feet. But, the truth is that keeping an eye on the horizon is actually a better way to allow the body to balance itself fully and stay straight on the board.

Standing on the board is tough enough as it is, and keeping balance is the next difficult step. Looking down may feel like the right thing to do, but this will actually make it harder for the body to keep regular balance.

6. Maintain a Safe distance

You can bring riders and fellow paddlers to make the experience even more fun and adventurous. But, always consider the dynamics of the craft in the water as you set out. Side by side paddling is nice for taking photos but doesn’t really make sense for propulsion purposes. You could be too close to give either paddler their full range of motion and increases the chances that someone will be bumped into the water.

For this reason, make sure you have selected a craft and paddling dynamic that suits your cargo and passenger list. This will make your experience more enjoyable and save your energy.

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1. Boarding and Standing

7. Fall “Away” From The Board

Practice falling right away! No matter how much time and practice you have placed on your SUP board, you will always run the risk of falling off and having to get back on, so learn to do this and practice regularly, so it becomes faster. This will also teach you how to fall to minimize the chances of injury.

As a rule, try to fall away from the big heavy board as there is always a chance of hitting it wrong and hurting something. This is going to be even more important when you begin cruising rougher water where the board can be thrown about easily and end up hitting you in the face.

8. Be Safe

The SUP Board is a great way to explore even deep water safely, but safety should always be your No. 1 priority. Never go out on the water if you doubt your capacity to navigate the waters and have an enjoyable experience. Always bring a buddy with you to ensure that help can be reached in case of an emergency. Finally, make sure you let somebody know where you will be going and when you will be getting back.

When out on the water, keep your tether securely fastened and never get too far from your gear. Avoid approaching sunken objects as these can cause your craft to become entangled. Steering clear of other water traffic is also advised. 
Also look for sites that have Stand Up Paddle Board Reviews in google. A lot of these sites put many hours into testing SUP’s and its a great source of information.

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