Learn to Stand Up Paddle Board A Beginners Guide

Jimmy Blakeney | How To

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Learn to Stand Up Paddle Board A Beginners Guide

As an ACA instructor trainer, I've trained tens of thousands of paddlers through my YouTube videos and in-person sessions. I particularly like teaching people how to stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), as it is an accessible and enjoyable water sport that offers a fantastic workout and a unique way to explore the water. In this guide, I will walk you through the process of learning to stand up paddle board in under 5 minutes, based on my expertise and experience in the sport. By following these simple steps, you'll be able to get started and build your confidence on the water, enjoying all the benefits SUP has to offer.

Step 1: Safety First

Safety is a crucial aspect of any water sport, including stand-up paddle boarding. Ensuring you take the necessary precautions will help you avoid accidents and injuries, making your SUP experience enjoyable and worry-free. Keep these safety tips in mind as you prepare for your paddle-boarding session:

  • Always stay in calm, protected waters.
  • Wear a life jacket and leash at all times.
  • Avoid areas with boat traffic.
  • Paddle with a friend for extra safety.

Step 2: Proper Paddle Sizing

Choosing the right paddle size is essential for an efficient and comfortable paddling experience. A properly sized paddle will allow you to maintain good posture, reduce the risk of strain or injury, and optimize your paddling technique. To find the perfect paddle size for you, follow these steps:

  • Placing it in front of your foot.
  • Opening the adjustment mechanism.
  • Raising your arm until it is comfortably extended.
  • Checking that your elbows are bent at about 90 degrees when holding the paddle.

Step 3: Entering the Water

Entering the water safely and correctly is vital for protecting both yourself and your equipment. By taking a few precautions, you can ensure a smooth start to your stand up paddle boarding adventure. Prepare to enter the water by:

  • Putting on your leash around your ankle or calf.
  • Finding a spot with deep water to avoid the fin catching.
  • Turning the board parallel to the shore.
  • Wading out until the water is deeper than your fin.

Step 4: Starting on Your Knees

Beginning your SUP journey on your knees allows you to familiarize yourself with the board, paddle, and basic techniques before transitioning to a standing position. This approach will help you develop a strong foundation and boost your confidence as you progress. Start by paddling on your knees as follows:

  • Place your paddle across the board in front of the carry handle.
  • Put your knees on either side of the handle.
  • Push away from the shore.
  • Focus on placing the paddle fully in the water, switching sides, and holding the paddle correctly (blade caned forward).

Step 5: Standing Up

Transitioning from kneeling to standing is a crucial step in your stand-up paddle boarding journey. Mastering this skill will enable you to fully enjoy the benefits and excitement of SUP. To smoothly and confidently make the transition, follow these steps:

  • Take a stroke or two for momentum.
  • Place the paddle across the board.
  • Look ahead, get your feet flat in a squat position, and keep your back straight.
  • Stand up and quickly get the paddle in the water to maintain stability.

Step 6: Paddling Efficiently

Efficient paddling is key to a rewarding stand up paddle boarding experience. By developing proper technique, you can minimize fatigue, cover greater distances, and enhance your overall enjoyment of the sport. Keep these tips in mind to improve your paddling efficiency:

  • Keep the paddle shaft vertical for straight strokes.
  • Use a 45-degree angle for turning strokes (sweep stroke).
  • Rotate your hips and shoulders, and engage your core when paddling.

Step 7: Returning to Shore

Safely returning to shore is just as important as your initial entry into the water. Properly concluding your stand-up paddle boarding session will protect your equipment and ensure your safety.

Follow these steps to return to shore with ease:

  • Squat and drop down to your knees before reaching the shoreline.
  • Paddle on your knees until you are close to the shore.
  • Lift the board by the handle and walk out of the water.


By following these steps and tips, you can learn to stand up paddle board in under 5 minutes. Remember to prioritize safety, practice your technique, and enjoy the experience as you build your confidence on the water. As you become more comfortable with paddle boarding, you'll be able to explore new environments and challenges, making the most of this exciting and rewarding sport. Happy paddling!

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