The sport of SUP (standup paddling) is really gaining momentum in Australia after following the lead from our northern hemisphere counterparts where the sport is absolutely exploding. Summer is only just around the corner and once again it’s going to be a busy time out on the water with more and more people discovering that gliding feeling of SUP is very addictive.
I wrote about what is SUP 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 anyway, 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.
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 easily enough just like riding a bike. You may find that one side of your body will is stronger than the other and you could find it difficult to stay straight .. SUP is great for this reason as it allows greater 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!
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!
Is standup paddle boarding something you are keen to give a go? I love sharing my passion for the sport and run regular SUP clinics or SUP parties – if you are interested in furthering your skills or basic technique.