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7 Things You Need To Know About Paddleboarding (Beginner Guide)

 Everything you need to know about paddleboarding so that when you start doing it yourself, you won’t look like a dweeb.


Terms You Should Know

Whether you are in the surf shop, out on the waves, or chatting up a bikini-clad babe in the coffee shop, you need to sound as if you know what you are talking about. Frauds are usually quite easy to spot just from a few minutes of conversation. So, here are three key words that will help you to fit in even if you are still learning how to balance on your board.


This is how you stand on your paddleboard. An ideal stance is with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing at the nose of the board. You need to be light on your feet with your weight evenly distributed.

The staggered stance is a variation where you would have one foot back on the side you are paddling from. This stance is used for speed and is considered an intermediate foot position. In other words, not for newbies.


Okay, but where on the board do you stand? Strive for standing where the handle of the board is as that would be the approximate center of the board. Now, this will change under certain circumstances. For example, when paddling into the wind, stand just behind the center to raise the board’s nose higher.

A racing stance (again, not for newbies) is a variation of your standard stance with feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart to reduce weight distribution.


A stroke contains three basic elements. They are the Catch, Power, and Release. If you canoe or kayak, the mechanics behind a stroke is similar only you are standing above the water and holding your paddle downward. Here is a closer look at each part of the stroke.


Part 1 – The Catch

The catch is when your paddle enters the water.


Part 2 – The Power

The power is the smooth transition from the catch where you are pushing the paddle through the water. This is the part of the stroke that enables you to move forward.


Part 3 – The Release

When the blade of your paddle reaches the location in the water that matches where your feet are on the board, you will pull your paddle out of the water. That releases it from the stroke. After you release, you repeat the stroke steps from the beginning.


Spoiler Alert: Although it sounds painfully simple, mastering the paddleboard stroke can take quite some time. In some cases, it may be years before you properly execute the perfect stroke. Up to that point, you are just practicing. Plus, it is important to remember that your arms are not to be used for power in the stroke. The key to the perfect stroke is to use your entire body to create motion.


We are not talking miles per hour here so don’t worry about someone onshore aiming a radar gun at you to track your progress. In paddleboarding, speed is measured as the distance traveled per stroke. It is the basis of what is called a stroke rate.

For example, an average stroke rate is in the 30 to 40 strokes per minute range. A racing stroke rate would be 50 to 60+ strokes per minute. 


The Equipment

Now that you have a grasp of the language of paddleboarding, you should also learn a bit about the sporting equipment required to perform the stance, stroke, and speed parts of the sport. Lucky for you, you only need two things outside of your swimwear, sunscreen, and shades.


SUP Boards

There are a few different SUP boards out there ranging from recreational to inflatable and displacement hull (racing) boards. For a complete newbie, your smartest move in this sport would be to opt for a recreational board for your first time on the water.

You don’t even have to buy one, either. Where available, just rent a board to try out and see if it is all you hoped it would be without the expense right away. There are two sizes for recreational boards – 10’6 or 11’6.

Once you get the hang of things and want to move up because your skill level has improved, you could try the displacement hull variety. They are different in designs to recreational boards and are available in two different sizes – 12’6 and 14’.

See this site for more info: SUP Boards Review



After learning all the science behind the stroke, you will need paddles to put that knowledge to good use. There are a few things to consider about paddles. Your goal is to get a lightweight one, that feels good in your hands and has a soft grip for comfort.

If you are a big person (tall or stocky) you will require a different paddle than a shorter and lighter person. Each paddle has three parts – the blade, the shaft, and the grip. The larger the rider, the larger the blade you will need to produce motion.

For newbs, it is a good idea to start with an adjustable paddle to find the right fit and length that works best for you.

Gili Sports https://www.gilisports.com/blogs/sup-expert-advice/how-to-paddle-board-the-beginners-guide-to-sup-basics

Tips https://www.leisurepro.com/blog/scuba-guides/10-paddle-boarding-tips-for-beginners/

How to with pictures https://www.islesurfandsup.com/sup-101/sup-beginners-guide/

The Safety Part

When you are out in the water with your paddleboard, try to stay within the areas where swimmers, surfers, or sunbathers hang out.

In other words, try to avoid open water where the waterskiers and power boaters play. Not only will you save yourself from getting in an accident or some other incident but you become a vessel in the eyes of the USCG once you get out past the swimmers and surfers.

What this means is you will be expected to have the correct safety devices on you as you paddle. They will include a PDF Type III life jacket, a whistle, and a flashlight. 

Lessons Or Go Solo?

It is a lot like learning how to swim through correspondence if you try paddleboarding just from what you have read here. Yes, it’s not all that complicated but there are tricks to getting on your board and special maneuvers (like a pivot turn) that are best learned through lessons on the beach.

Plus, in a lesson-on-the-beach situation, you will be surrounded by others with the same skill level (newbie = zilch) as you so if you get intimidated by crowds, this won’t be such a bad way to pick up how to get that board to move under your feet.



One thing we have yet to have mentioned here is that it is good for your health. There are five very good health benefits you can get from just a little time on the water. Here is a look at what they are.


1 – Core Strength Increaser

SUP engages your core muscles. That means your abs are going to feel it in the morning. Oh, and your arms, legs, back, and shoulders will, too.


2 – Stamina Builder

Considered a low impact workout, you can spend hours without knowing it. This will help build your stamina.

3 – Joint Stability Enhancer

The motions that your feet and lower legs will experience are much the same as those used in physical therapy exercises. Balance muscles will also get a workout that all work together to stabilize your joints.


4 – Stress Reducers

Enjoying nature, being outdoors, getting a low impact workout, and many other aspects of paddleboarding work to calm the mind. Have a particularly rough day in the office? Hopping on the lake and paddling around will put that to rest.

5 – Dose Up On Vitamin D

You can’t ignore the fact that when you are outside, you will be feeling sunlight and that crazy burning light in the sky delivers Vitamin D. If it is the only thing you do that gets you outside, that’s a good thing.


Standup paddleboarding, or SUP, has been part of the Hawaiian surf culture for hundreds of years. It is technically an offshoot of surfing and it was converted into what was known as paddle surfing in 2005 with roots in Texas.

Two years later, the first SUP race was held but it was not in Texas. This race was on Lake Tahoe which straddles the California-Nevada border. Since then, it has become one of the most popular water sports. 


Paddleboarding is a sport that can be enjoyed by all ages. It doesn’t require a lot of equipment nor does it need a special arena to enjoy it. All you need is a body of water. Oh, and a board and paddle.

Several health benefits come from paddleboarding and since it is a low impact activity, it is suitable for anyone regardless of fitness level.

We hope that we have given you enough information here to interest you to investigate further. Check out your local sporting goods store or board shop to find out more.

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