Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a great way to stay fit and enjoy the water. However, with a giant board and lengthy paddle at your command, it can be a little intimidating. Here are our tips for paddling with confidence!
Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is a fantastic way to explore Ireland’s waterways and one that is really easy to pick up. You’ll be confident in no time but getting started can be a challenge. Whether you’re taking lessons, renting kit, or have taken the plunge and bought your first SUP, these tips will get you paddling like a pro in no time.
1. Use a leash
If you’ve ever been surfing than this one should be no surprise to you. A leash serves a couple of key purposes: Firstly, when you fall off, your board won’t go that far and it’ll be much easier to retrieve. Secondly, and most importantly, you reduce the risk of your board flying away and causing someone else injury. Even as you get more experienced you should always use a leash in the sea, it can be left at home on stiller waters.
2. Get familiar with your paddle
You’re going to be spending plenty of time with your paddle when you’re out on the water so it’s key that it’s the right one for you and you know how to use it correctly. The paddle should be taller than you but not by too much and you ensure that you have a handle that suits you. In the wrong hands a paddle can be a clumsy weapon so make sure you’re comfortable wielding it on and off dry land.
3. Use your core
This is the crux of SUP. Rather than just using your arms, engaging your core will make each paddle more powerful. The core is the largest group of muscles in the body so by using them you’ll glide along quicker and more efficiently. This two-minute tutorial by paddle boarder Sam Ross is a great little explainer.
4. Learn how to fall
Falling off is a natural part of SUP and something you’ll quickly get used to when you’re starting out. There is a right way to fall off your board, especially when you’re out in the surf. The key is to fall away from the board and put some distance between you and it. Because you’re using a leash it won’t get too far but it’s best to avoid getting hit in the head by the board or fins.
5. Keep your eyes on the horizon
When you start out paddle boarding it’s easy to have your head locked down constantly making sure that your stroke is right, your feet are in the right place, and you’re still afloat. The sooner you break this habit the better. Keep your head up, back straight, and your bodyweight over your toes. This will keep you much more stable and make your strokes stronger.
6. Start on flat water
Ease your way in during your first few outings on your SUP. While it may be tempting to head to sea and start tackling waves you’ll find it easier to nail the fundamentals on a calmer, flatter lake or river. Once you’ve mastered these then start working your way up to the rougher stuff.
7. Learn how to handle the wind
Stand up paddle boards are a lot like a windsurfing board. Atop a SUP you are a lot like the windsurf sail. When the winds get up you’ll notice that you will get blown off course and that is down to you. Know the conditions before you head out and if you get caught in a gale then get prone and paddle with your arms as you would on a surfboard.
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