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SUP basics 101

Sup with stingrays

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More and more people are coming up to me and asking what’s the deal with SUP or standup paddling?

The sport is really gaining momentum in Australia after following the lead from out northern hemisphere counterparts where the sport is absolutely exploding. Spring is only just around the corner and I have a feeling it’s going to busy time out on the water with more and more people discovering that gliding feeling of SUP.

I wrote about what SUP is and why you need to try it which runs through the benefits of this unique sport if you wanted to start there.  But, I guess if we are going to talk SUP 101 basics then we need to start at the bottom and work our way up on how to SUP.  There is definitely a right and wrong way of paddling a SUP board and it all begins with your stance and paddle technique.

I remember going for my first paddle on a standup board and felt like such a gumby..everything felt awkward and like one big ab crunch session. But I loved it went back for more…

But anyways, let’s get one thing out of the way first and that is the correct way to hold a paddle...yes believe it or not I see more people holding it around the wrong way out on the water. Here is a diagram to explain it better. Notice how the blade angle is facing forward for the best efficiency.

how to hold sup paddle

 The next step is to look at stroke technique…Here is a great video to properly explain (and it’s easier to watch something rather than read it)


This is a lot to take in if you’re a beginner but soon enough it will all come easy enough just like riding a bike. You will find that one side of your body will probably be stronger than the other and you will tend to veer more on one side but it that’s the beauty of this sport..it creates a great body awareness and helps you discover muscle imbalances.

As the video describes there is a technique to aim for down the track once you have mastered the whole balance thing, which is surprisingly easy on flatwater boards. Don’t ever feel you can’t kneel down either..this is the safest way to stop yourself or regain your balance when that mad dingy driver goes past!

In regards to safety if you are venturing out into the ocean on a calm day it’s always advisable to wear a surfing leash. That way if you do become separated from your board it is always close by.  Remember to always wear one in the surf also to protect others from what direction your board may take!

fdec20ce2d5c61d583bcd2a84514f952 And to finish off the most important step is to have fun! This is such a beautiful sport and really connects you with nature seeing your little part of the world from a different perspective, don’t get too carried away with the whole deal of technique, stance and speed and remember to look around and admire this amazing world! pic1 tumblr, pic2 via paddleboard factory, pic3 via

Is standup paddle boarding something you are keen to give a go?  I’m interested to know…What’s been holding you back?

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  • Kirsty Russell

    I love it and usually just do the creek thing. On the weekend I tried what I thought was flat surf ahem it’s not flat ever!! lol My legs were in full work out mode just to stay on the board because of those humps in the ocean. I’m sure with more practise out there it will be more fun!

    • Karla

      Ha ha yes there is always a ump in the ocean which makes it fun but I’m sure you are ready to take the next step.. It might just take a few go’s;)

  • Burleigh was flat all week (absolutely stunning) and I had too many kids to look after to get out there – boo! We are moving to the Whitsundays in the next few months and the thought of all that flat, aqua water has gotten me excited!

    • Karla

      How gorgeous has the weather been!! Easily compete against the whitsundays;) sounds beautiful and not at all envying that move with your tribe. Good on you it’s beautiful up there! Look out airlie beach!! Ha ha

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