Stand up paddling has been around for thousands of years, originating in ancient cultures from Africa to South America with boards, canoes, and other watercraft propelled with a long stick. And, through the ages, it has slowly evolved into what we know today as paddleboarding.
Paddleboarding is one of the fastest-growing watersports out there. Anyone can learn it, and, once mastered, it can also be a lot of fun riding the waves! Not only that, but you will build up strength in your arms, core and legs through regular practice. You don’t even need to be overly fit, and many find it relaxing, whether with friends, family or on their own.
But what do beginners need to understand when looking to start? Here are some of our favourite Top Tips for Beginner Paddleboarding:
Learn how to swim
First and foremost, it’s important to know how to swim as you will be spending a lot of time in the water and not on your board. This will ensure safety from drowning, so please take lessons! Plus, you’ll be more confident around the water and, therefore, in your paddleboarding abilities as a result. Just ask any other experienced paddleboarder!
You can find your nearest swimming lessons here.
Practice techniques on land
Before jumping straight into the water, aim to get the basics sorted out first. You can practice on land, so you know what to do when getting started. Again, this is good for building confidence. Although the ground isn’t as wobbly as being on the water, if you take this step first, you will end up spending far more time on the board and less time splashing around when you do get out there!
Focus on balance
When starting out, it’s important to focus on your balance. The knees technique helps with your centre of balance as it’ll be low. Then, when standing, keep a wide stance and know where to stand on the board – in the centre, straddling the handle. Of course, you will fall, but finding that balance now helps in the long term when it is needed.
Then start small
Find a body of water that isn’t so menacing, one with smaller waves for you to get used to, and make sure it’s a calm day. Get used to the board by starting on your knees. Take it a few small steps at a time, and you will be flying in no time! No one takes to it easily. You’ll need all the advantages possible.
Know your weather
When it comes to any sort of watersport, the weather is a massive factor in how well you can practice. That’s no different with paddleboarding, either. The tide, wind direction and speed will determine how easy or difficult it will be for you to paddle. Check the weather forecast before setting out. Then decide where it would be best to go.
Generally, make sure the tide is coming in, not out. The wind is blowing you in a direction back to shore, not away. And the wind speed has to be less than 10mph so you can paddle against it.
Practice techniques on the water
Remember those techniques you learned on land before? Now it’s time to do so on the water. Attempt to push yourself but know your limits. One bad experience may ruin any other ones you plan on having. Get used to the paddle, practice falling and also climbing back up, as this is bound to happen throughout your future paddleboarding experiences.
Dress for the occasion
For colder temperatures, it’s important to wear a wetsuit to keep your body warm. The opposite can be said for hotter temperatures, where you may not need one. However, you will want it most when falling into the water. In general, for very cold weather, a 5mm Full Wetsuit with 7mm Boots is recommended. For hot weather, choose a thinner 3mm Wetsuit instead.
As well as the wetsuit, you should also wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) such as a buoyancy aid. You may think this is more geared towards people on bigger bodies of water than those at a small cabin lake. But, either way, this could end up saving your life. A quick-release leash is also required as it will keep your board close to you after falling. This is how you can avoid that frantic swim to get your board back before it drifts away into the abyss! (Seriously, you don’t want to be left stranded in the water without your board!)
If you’re still unsure of your abilities, then having an experienced paddleboarder teach you the ropes can go a long way. You may not even need many lessons – perhaps one or two – but something is always better than nothing. Maybe a friend knows a thing or two, so ask them for their knowledge. Then, take into consideration any words of wisdom and practice.
You can find your nearest standup paddleboarding lessons here.
Practice and perfect
All that’s left to do now is practice, practice, practice! With regular paddleboarding sessions, you can become a pro yourself in no time. Build up from smaller bodies of water to larger ones and see where the board takes you. Confidence will build gradually and, with all the right equipment, you should have amazing fun out there on the water!
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