Paddleboarding, like anything else, takes practice to get better. Improving your stroke technique will result in faster and more efficient paddling. Learning how to read the water and the wind will help you catch bumps and avoid making bad decisions.
Improving your balance will give you better control over your paddleboard in rough conditions and will open up a whole new skill level that you can use in racing, surfing, downwinding, and more. Practice these 5 things and watch your paddleboard balance improve.
Riding in rough water is the easiest way to test out your balancing skills. Set off across your pond or lake when it’s windy so the water is crashing into the side of your paddleboard. Cross chop from wind will force you to shift your weight from side to side to keep your board from tipping too far. This is also a great workout for your legs. You can step back on your paddleboard to partially lift it out of the water and this will make it a little easier to maintain control.
Boat wakes can also provide good opportunities to test your balance. Heading straight into them is the easiest method. But then try paddling parallel to them. The wake will roll under your board making it very unstable. This is a good time to bend your knees more and spread your feet more apart to absorb the wakes.
Nothing is more fun than practicing pivot turns and trying to get your board as far out of the water as you can. Pivot turns involve stepping back towards the tail of your board and sinking it in the water as you use your paddle to spin around in place. Use your paddle as a brace when stepping back and then make a wide arc with the blade from the rail all the around to the tail to spin 180 and again 360 degrees.
Step back further and further until your balance is so challenged you can barely stay on the board. Don’t worry about falling in- this is what will make you better at it. You can even practice these off the nose of your paddleboard by sinking it and lifting the tails out of the water- but with that fin out of the water turning will feel different.
Moving around on your paddleboard can be by cross-stepping, shuffling, or hopping. When cross-stepping you move into the sideways surf stance and then you move your front foot behind your back foot and place it in the center of the board. Then your front foot goes over your back and so on and so forth. You can move in both directions up and down your board.
This is a great balance training exercise because every time you cross step you only have one foot down on the board, if only for a second. Plus, by moving around you’re making the board unstable, further challenging your balance.
Balance boards like Indo Board and Vew Do give you a great work out. They are simple to use but can be very challenging once you start moving around on them and doing tricks. These boards rock back and forth off a center balance point and give you a feeling very similar to being on a paddleboard that is tipping from side to side.
You can also grab a broom handle or the like and pretend it’s your paddle. Practice your paddle stroke technique as you’re balancing on the board. This will get you even closer to how you will be reacting to rough water and boat wakes when you’re out on the water.
Stay Active – Paddleboard More!
A big part of getting better balance is having a strong core and leg muscles. Squats, pull ups, running (especially trail running where you are jumping up on and over stuff all the time), skateboarding, etc will all help you balance more effectively while your paddleboarding.
But the best strategy to get your balance up to speed is to just do more paddleboarding! Get out and catch some waves, ride bumps in the ocean, try yoga on your board, or try running some small river rapids. Ride in the wind and in boat wakes- just be on your paddleboard more and move around, challenge yourself! It will make you a stronger paddler and you’ll have more fun!
Tags: paddleboarding in rough water, balance boards, vew do boards, pivot turn, indo board ri,tips to improve your paddleboarding, improve your paddleboarding balance, moving around on your paddleboard, paddleboard balance, improve your paddleboarding