12 Stand Up Paddle Board Tips for Beginners

stand up paddle boarding

When you start off with a stand up paddle board, the sport can feel daunting. There’s so much information you need to absorb before you even pick up a paddle and inflate your board.

In our guide, we’ll break down our top 12 tips for beginner stand-up paddle boarders. By the time you get to the end, you’ll know things like:

  • What to do if the weather changes and the winds are too strong for you to paddle against.

  • How to choose equipment that’s right for your skill level

  • How to hold your paddle and stand on your board correctly

  • Why you need to wash your board after every session


Ready to jump in and upskill your SUP knowledge? Here are some of the best stand-up paddle board tips that will have you riding waves like a legend in no time!

1. Buy a Leash

Whether you’re a beginner or a stand-up paddle board pro, you need to buy a leash. 

Why?

  • It will save you from having to swim after your board.

  • You won’t lose it in windy or stormy conditions.

  • It will stop you from hitting other surfers with your board by mistake.


There are different kinds of leashes to suit your paddling style. You can choose from straight or coiled, and ankle or calf attachments.

When buying your SUP leash, one of the most important things to consider is its length.  If you’re going to spend a lot of time SUPing in choppy conditions, you’ll need a longer leash to stop the board from hitting you if you fall off.

Another thing to consider is how easy the leash is to detach. If you get stuck in some underwater plants, you need a leash that you can get out of as quickly as possible.

2. Invest in Your Stand-Up Paddle Board Gear

If you want to get the most out of your stand-up paddle board experience, you need to invest in quality gear from the get-go that is right for your skill level.

Beginners should start with an all-around SUP board that is thick, long and wide. It will help you learn how to balance in different water conditions.

Another board option for beginners is a touring SUP. It’s a board that can grow with your skill level, and you can use it to go out further and faster when you feel ready.

When it comes to choosing the right paddle, you want one that is 10 inches longer than you for good grip and traction.

[Shop our all-around and touring boards for beginners]

3. Check the Weather and Wind Reports

One of the quickest ways to exhaust yourself on the water is trying to paddle against strong winds. While you’re learning how to stand-up paddle board, you want to practice without strong winds and big waves.

Gusty winds will make it harder for you to find your balance and paddle to where you want to go.

Before getting in the water, you want to look up the weather forecast for the day. Some of the best apps and websites you can use are Windy, Magic Seaweed and Swellnet. These will give you accurate wind and swell predictions.

If you’re out on the water and the wind starts to pick up, you can use a pro paddling technique to get safely back to shore. Lie belly down on your board with your paddle underneath you and use your arms to paddle back to the beach.

4. Learn How to Hold The Paddle Correctly

One of the biggest rookie mistakes that paddle boarders make is incorrect paddle technique.

If you’ve never had a stand-up paddle board lesson, you won’t know how to hold the paddle for efficient strokes or which way to hold the blade.

Here are some tips on how to use your SUP paddle correctly:

  • Hold your paddle so that the bent part of the blade is facing away from you.

  • Your paddle should always be perpendicular to your board when it’s in the water.

  • Always hold the paddle with your hand gripping the top of the handle and the other on the shaft.

  • Make sure your grip is shoulder-width apart, so you get more power out of your strokes.

  • Don’t only rely on your arms to paddle. When you dip the blade fully into the water to take a stroke, let your back muscles and core do most of the work.


[Shop our range of paddles for beginners]

5. Learn the Proper Technique for Standing on the Paddle Board

When you first start paddle boarding, finding your balance will be the biggest challenge. However, there are a few things you can do it make things easier and spend more time on the board instead of in the water.

Don’t use a surf stance on your paddle board: It will make it that much harder to paddle in any water condition. Instead, keep your feet parallel, shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed towards the nose of your board.

Don’t look down when you paddle: If you do, you’ll struggle to keep your balance. A trick to get around this is to stare at the horizon or find an object in the distance and paddle towards it.

Don’t stand too far back or forward: It will make it difficult to control your board. Use the carry handles as markers for where you should stand.

stand up paddle board

6. Face The Right Direction

It can be hard for beginners with all-around boards to know which is the front end. If you’re ever unsure, find the fins and make sure they are at the back of the board.

The fins help with keeping your board straight when you paddle and give you grip when you’re surfing waves.

Another sign that your board is facing the wrong direction could be if you’re struggling to keep your board straight and you constantly have to switch paddle sides. If you’re experiencing this, it’s probably because your fins are at the front.

While you’re out on the water, you also want to avoid paddling into direct sunlight for long periods of time. The heat can delaminate your hardboard and cause damage to the seams of your iSup.

7. Use Your Core Strength

Stand-up paddle boarding isn’t only about your arms and back muscles. It’s a full-body workout and requires a lot of core strength.

While you’re paddling, you’ll need to engage your core for powerful strokes and to improve your balance.

Plus, over time, you’ll start to build muscle definition in your midsection!

8. Fall Off Your Board The Right Way

You never stop falling off your paddle board. It’s a learning experience that helps you improve your balance, and it’s something that even the pros have to deal with.

Learning how to fall safely is a vital stand up paddle board skill. You want to fall away from your board to avoid hitting any body parts on the board or fins. 

We recommend practising falling off your board so you can avoid cutting your session short with an injury.

And don’t worry about your board. As long as you’ve invested in a leash, you don’t need to stress about losing your board in the water.

9. Take Care of Your SUP Equipment

SUPing is not a cheap sport. When you buy your equipment, it’s an investment, and it’s important to look after your board to make it last as long as possible.

Here are some tips for looking after your equipment:

  • Avoid direct sunlight: Whether you’re buying an inflatable or epoxy SUP, keep it out of direct sunlight. One of the best places to store your board is in a garage, where it’s dry and cool.

  • Transportation: When you’re transporting your board, always use the protective board bag. It will help you avoid any unwanted scratches, cracks and dings.

  • Aftercare: If you’re going paddle boarding in the ocean, always clean your board with fresh water and mild soap after your session. The salt can dry out your board and force you to buy a new board much sooner than you would need to.

  • Usage: Only invest in a stand-up paddle board if you’re going to use it frequently. If you leave your board in storage for a long time, it can damage it and cause glue bonds to fall apart.

  • Air Compressor: If you’re using an iSUP, it’s not a good idea to use an air compressor. You can accidentally over-inflate the board and doing so will void your warranty.

  • Personal Flotation Devices: Rinse your PFD with fresh water and hang it to dry outside but not in direct sunlight. You should also apply a UV Protectant to avoid sun damage and fading.


stand up paddle board

10. Use the Correct PSI When Inflating Your iSup

If you’re using an iSUP, it’s important to inflate your board to the recommended PSI. If you don’t, you won’t have the rigidity you need, and your performance in the water will suffer.

What is a PSI?

PSI stands for pounds per square inch. It tells you how much air your iSUP can take and what it needs for optimal performance.

We recommend inflating your iSUP to 12 PSI. If you’re riding in cold or choppy water and you need more stability, you can increase the PSI of your board.

However, don’t inflate your board over 15 PSI. You don’t see much of a difference in the board’s rigidity after that point.

11. Check Your Ego: Choose Waves You Can Handle

Whether you’re out riding waves in the ocean or tackling white water paddle boarding, you need to respect Mother Nature.

While it can be tempting to take on challenging waves, you need to keep your ego in check. It’s safer and wiser to choose conditions that match your skill level.

As a beginner, you want to look for smaller waves that will allow you to gain experience, improve your balance and help you to understand the flow and power of the water.

As you gain experience and confidence, you can start moving onto bigger waves. Before you know it, you’ll be hanging ten with the best of them.

12. Learn How to Strap Your Board to Your Car

One of the most common questions we get from beginners is: “How do I strap my stand up paddle board to the roof of my car?”

It’s something you need to know whether you’re buying an epoxy or an inflatable SUP.

Here are the two methods that you can use to make sure your board won’t fly off on your way to your paddle destination:

Roof Rack System

To use the roof rack method, you’ll need to install a roof rack system on your car. You can expect to pay around $200-300, and you’ll definitely need it if you’re planning long road trips or going on the high way with your board.

Some other accessories you’ll need to buy include soft surf pads, tie-down straps and towels to prevent damage if you’re stacking SUP boards on top of each other.

Soft Racks System

The soft racks system is only recommended if you plan on transporting your stand up paddle board over short distances.

This method is not okay for highway travel unless it’s under 10 minutes and you keep a good following distance between you and other cards.

You can buy soft racks that come with straps from surf shops, and most will fit on small sedans and large SUVs. However, you’ll struggle to use this method if you have a minivan.

Conclusion

Are you ready to buy your first stand up paddle board and catch some glassy water and waves in Florida? 

Hopefully, these paddle boarding tips have answered some of your top questions, and you feel more confident about getting into the water and riding some waves.

Need some extra stand up paddle board advice? Not sure what gear to buy or have a question we didn’t answer in this post?

Feel free to contact our team on +1 941 218 9095, or email us at info@vanhunksboarding.com with questions you might have.