How Difficult Is Stand Up Paddle Boarding?

How hard is stand up paddle boarding or “SUPing”?

That is a good question that I think a lot of people ask. First, let me give it some things to compare it to that might help. Lets just go with and “easier than” as well as a “harder than” list to help give you perspective.

Easier Than:

  • Surfing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Snowboarding
  • Skateboarding
  • Riding a bike for the first time
  • Asking a girl or guy on a date
  • Eating Food you hate
  • Doing the laundry

Harder Than:

  • Sitting on the couch
  • Playing video games
  • Eating food

Some of this was in fun yes, but the point is that paddle boarding is really easy on the sports side of things. Even if you don’t have the greatest of balance, you can sit or kneel on the board and still have just as much fun.

To keep it easy starting off, make sure you stick to flat calm water like in a lake with little to no wind.

Now that you feel a little more comfortable about giving it a shot, here are 10 great tips to use to get started.

10 Tips for Better A Paddle Boarding Experience

Paddle boarding is a great sport to enjoy a day on the water. If you’re new to boarding—renting or owning then you’ll be off to a great start with a few tips to get you thinking and boarding like an expert. If you’re already a paddle boarder you may already know a few tricks, but it never hurts to get a few tips to help make your time on the board easier, safer, and more fun.

These 10 tips will have you looking like an experienced paddle boarder whether it’s your first or 50th time out on the water.

1. Staying Horizontal

The first thing you’re going to do on a paddle board is freeze. You’re going to tighten up your core and try to remain completely still. Relax, you’re going to fall and it’s going to be ok. If you want to be more stable on your board; keep your head up. Stand up tall and keep your weight over your toes. If you watch your feet while paddling, your body will rock back and forth until you’re in the water. Look towards the horizon and stand tall for a great day on the water.

2. Use the Core

If you depend on your arms to do all the work, it will be a short time spent on the water. Don’t mistake the paddle as an extension of your arms. Use your core. Your core muscles are some of the strongest on your body, and believe it or not, paddle boarding is a killer ab workout. Using your core to help you paddle will not only give you more power, but you’ll also be able to last longer, stay more stabilized on your board, and enjoy your time with less arm and backache.

3. Know the Conditions

Before you paddle out, be sure to check the weather forecast. If a storm is rolling in during the afternoon, you need to know so that you can be out of the water by then. The wind can carry on the water with a fury and when you’re standing atop the board your body acts as a sail. If the wind becomes too much to handle, simply lie down like you were surfing. Paddling prone allows you to get out of harm’s way safely and quickly when the weather changes.

4. Be Alert

Typically, paddle boards can be rented or you can launch your own near public spaces. Whether a lake, river, or ocean make sure that you remain alert. Paddle boards are large and hard and definitely hurt when they hit you. Remember when falling you fall away from the board to avoid it from hitting you in the water. Being alert when other people are around allows you to focus on your own activity. Swimmers, divers, and snorkelers all make for targets in the water. Avoiding the targets is key to having a terrific experience on the water.

5. Board Position

If you’re not familiar with boards it can be tricky to identify the nose from the back. If you find yourself using a beginner board—the nose and tail will be large and round and easier to stabilize. Beginner boards will also have a larger deck area which makes for more comfortable falling. Check where the fins are on your board; you should have them positioned in the back. This will keep the board straight when upwards paddling.

6. Paddle Position

As basic as it seems, the position of your paddle is the key to ease and function while paddling and standing on your board. Don’t fall for using your paddle to scoop water, this will not only make you really exhausted from upper arm work, but you’ll also be working harder to keep your balance. Instead, glide the shaft in the water with a trailing motion which will keep you more stable. The SUP (stand-up) stroke allows you to exert more power with the blade in a vertical position.

7. Leash Up

The leash is an essential element to safe paddle boarding. Using the leash helps keep you and your board safe as well as other boarders around you. The most common excuse to not wear one is for reasons of comfort, but this is no excuse. There are a number of different style and positions you can have the leash attached that will allow you to be both comfortable and safe while paddle boarding on open water.

8. Falling – The Right Way

No matter your experience, everyone falls off their boards…even the professionals. Getting a feel for your equipment usually involves taking a few spills. Don’t worry about falling, it’s essential to the learning experience. Knowing how to fall is one of the most important lessons that you learn. The last thing you want is to be hit by your board when you fall off into the water. When you fall, fall as far away from the board as possible. This will allow you to fall cleaner into the water and not worry about the board swinging back at you and causing damage.

9. Taking Risks

You’re finally getting paddle boarding. It’s coming easier and you’re staying up longer on the board. A great time is being had by all! Now you’re ready to take some risks. What about waves? Can we ride waves on these things? Yes and it can be extra enjoyment to your experience. Take on the things that you feel you can handle. The more you practice and the more you step out of your comfort zone–the more you benefit. Being careful may seem to be a contradiction to taking risks but make sure you’re comfortable with the situation. Remember that the water has no sympathy and can become dangerous in an instant. Stay safe and know your limits.

10. Have Fun

Paddle boarding is ridiculously fun whether you’re an expert or a novice. If you spend the entire time worried that you’re going to fall off, do you know what’s going to happen? You’re going to fall off. Do you know what happens when you know you’re going to fall off? When you do, you are prepared…just pick yourself back up onto the board and try again. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone but yourself.

Paddle boarding doesn’t have to be difficult, it just takes practice. Picking up a new hobby can be stressful when you have no idea what you’re doing. Just remember that you can never get worse–only better. Know your equipment, have fun, and use your best judgment in order to have a successful day on the water.


We hope you enjoyed our article. Be sure to read some of our other paddle board reviews as well.

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