Your first time paddleboarding is really exciting. That initial experience will color your view of the sport tremendously. And learning how to use your paddleboard correctly makes the experience that much more fun. Having an experienced instructor show you the basics allows you to do them efficiently and safely- saving your energy for the actual paddling experience. But here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re learning how to stand up on your paddleboard.
Where To Position Yourself
You’ll notice the carry handle that you used to bring your board in the water located right in the middle of the deck. That is the center and balance point of the paddleboard. When you get on your board, you will put your knees directly on either side of the handle and when you stand, your feet will be on either side of the handle at about shoulder width apart.
How To Get On The Paddleboard
To get on, first place your paddle perpendicular across the front section of the paddleboard. Then place your knees on either side of the carry handle. Choke down on the shaft of the paddle and start paddling out. As you go, try rocking backing and forth and from side to side to get the feel of the water and how it interacts with your board.
Standing Up One Foot At A Time
Once you feel comfortable and you are ready to stand up, place your paddle across the front of the board with both hands on it about shoulder width apart. Shift your weight forward onto the paddle so that you have 4 points of contact with the board- 2 hands and 2 knees. Now, slowly move one foot forward and underneath you and put it where your knee was. Do the same for the other foot and slowly rise while holding your paddle. Keep your heels down when you plant them at the handle area. You will be much more stable than if you try to stand using only your toes.
Standing Up Both Feet At Once
Another way to stand up on your paddleboard is with both feet at once. This way offers the advantage of being less wobbly as you stand because both feet are coming forward at once and balance out the side-to-side motion you get with one foot at a time. Start by putting the paddle across the board and as you shift your weight forward raise your hips with heels up and toes down. Now hop forward to the spots where your knees were and stand up holding the paddle.
Once You Are Standing Up
Paddle in the water: Once you are standing up on you board quickly put your paddle in the water even if you are not ready to start paddling yet. When your paddle is in the water it acts like a brace that helps support your weight if you are bobbing back and forth, and it offers better stability.
Eyes and head up: Try not to look down at your feet or the water when you are trying to stand up. You will tend to go where you look. If you are looking down guess where you are likely to end up? The water will be moving, as well as your board, and this will throw off your balance if you are looking down. Instead, keep your head up and your eyes on a fixed point of land, or the horizon where land and water meet or where the sky and water meets. This will help not only your balance and stability but also your paddling technique.
Start moving: The best way to keep your balance is to paddle! Your board will naturally feel more stable the faster you are travelling. So don’t hesitate to start paddling as soon as you are up and ready to go. Like riding a bike, you’ll fall over unless you start pedaling.
Recovery: Finally, if you do feel a sense of impending doom and you lose balance the first thing to do is squat down as low as you can go, or kneel down. Pull your paddle out of the water, or just drop it (it floats, don’t worry) and get back to the 4 points of contact position we talked about earlier- hands and knees or hands and feet. Your board will flatten right out and stabilize. The lower you get down the better. But if you are going to fall you want to fall away from the board and not on it. You can get hurt or damage the board if you fall on it.
It’s always best to take a lesson the first time you go paddleboarding. Instructors are there to make your first experience fun and safe. And hopefully it will leave you wanting to come back for more. Your local paddleboard shop should have trained and certified instructors ready to show you the ropes.
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