Cruising around on your standup paddleboarding is a lot of fun, but eventually you may start wondering what it is like moving around on your board and making use of all that real estate in front of and behind you. So here is a some paddleboarding tips on cross stepping is part of the long board surfing bag of tricks and it is used to get riders out on the nose of the board where they can… wait for it… nose ride! But for our purposes it is also a fun way to get wet AND hone our paddleboarding skills.
Moving around on your board is the goal but we have to work up to it. One of the first ways to work up to it is to learn pivot turning. This will get you moving towards the back of your board and utilizing the tail end. Another way is practicing paddling into the wind with one foot behind you so that you are turned sideways, like a snowboarder, reducing the amount of wind pushing against you. Both of these maneuvers get you out of your routine paddle stance and begin to get you used to moving around on the board. The next logical step is to actually start walking up and down your paddleboard and this where the cross step comes in.
Before you get right into the cross stepping maneuver, get used to moving on the board in a couple of different ways. Some folks will hop when changing foot positions on their board. Both feet will spring up a little bit off the board and move to the new area where they want to be. Other people shuffle their feet when changing stances and positions. One way may be easier than the other for you. Try working on both, but concentrate on the shuffle as this way is more closely related to the actually cross stepping you will be doing later on.
To begin your cross step, step back with one foot and turn sideways on your board (remember the sideways wind stance?). Now your toes and heels are pointing toward the rails (sides of the board). Bend your knees slightly, keeping your back straight and head up. Do not look down at your feet. Keep your chin up with eyes looking forward at all times. The idea is to keep your weight completely centered over the middle of your board. Slowly twist your torso so that your hips begin to open up towards the front of the board and at the same lift your back foot up and over your front foot. Turning your hips, shoulders and head forward will really allow you to keep your body centered over the middle of the board, which is essential for cross stepping. If your weight moves out over either rail, the board will tip and dump you over the side. Once your back foot is firmly planted in front of the other foot slide it out and move it up about three or four inches then repeat the cross over with the back foot again. Try making short steps until you get to the nose of your board then try it in reverse back to the middle and keep going towards the tail of the board and back to the middle.
Keep your arms tucked in (no flailing) and hold the paddle close to your body so that all of your weight is over the middle of the board. Remember to keep your head up and turn your hips, which will consequently turn your shoulders and head toward the front of the board as you lift your back foot up and over your front.
One more paddleboarding tip, the nose of most standup paddleboards is wrapped in a glassy smooth layer of epoxy resin. It is very slippery when wet. Keep that in mind, you may want to apply some board wax, or less messy Monster Paint to make life easier on yourself. The main thing as always is to have fun and stay safe.