Standup Paddling, 101

paddleAside from swimming, rafting, and kayaking/canoeing, most people consider their options to be pretty limited when it comes to water recreation. This is not so, however. For those of you looking to spice things up on the lake this summer, you may want to consider giving standup paddling a try. Yes, it’s a little difficult at first, but today we’ll take a look at some tips that will have you looking like a pro in no time.

For the majority of beginners, the hardest part of standup paddling is also the first step: standing up. It isn’t as hard as people make it out to be, though, and requires only a few tips to store in your mind. When you’re first learning, it’s best to practice on a more stable board, such as one that’s at least 30 inches wide and ten feet long. You’ll also want to be sure to find calm water that’s about knee-deep. First, get on the board with your knees on the deckpad and the paddle resting across the front of the board. Make sure you’re on the middle of the board and space your hands evenly beneath your shoulders on the paddle. Next, slowly put one foot on the board, followed by the other, about shoulder-width apart. Keep your knees bent with one foot on either side of the hand-hold. Once you’re up, get a few paddle strokes in to stabilize yourself and plane the board.

Your paddle stroke is important. You’ll need to make sure your stance and power are ideal in order to stay upright. Staying loose, keep your feet parallel and your knees bent. When it comes to your reach, you’ll want to place the paddle’s blade next to the board, about four feet from your foot, using your top hand as a guide. Pull the paddle smoothly through the water, bending at your waist, and end the stroke at your feet. Your core will provide nearly all the power for each stroke, not your arms, with each twist of your torso.

You’ll most likely need to turn your board now and then, as well, and pivoting it on the tail is the quickest way to do this. First, step back onto the tail, which will bring the board to a near-stop. Get lower to the board and bend your knees so you lower your center of gravity and create more balance. Now, the farther your back foot is on the tail, the quicker you’ll pivot. However, there is a balance to be maintained as standing too far back will completely flip the board, like a seesaw with too much weight on one side. Once you’ve placed your feet properly to pivot, simply employ a normal paddle stroke. The board should turn on its tail with no trouble.

Standup paddling can be a great, new way to enjoy the water this summer. Furthermore, one of the best things about standup paddling is that anyone can do it with some practice. I’d suggest practicing before running out and buying your own board, though.