Like anything, when you first try SUP it can be intimidating. If you are comfortable around water or have spent any time in kayaks, canoes or just about any floating device then you should find SUP very approachable. If you’re not comfortable, I highly suggest going with friends who are, or take lessons from professionals. For your first time, try to go on a lake, river or any body of water that is fairly calm so you’re not fighting waves or big wakes from passing boats. I can almost guarantee you will fall in the water your first time, but that’s okay just be prepared to get wet. Here are my 5 tips to successfully get started paddle boarding.

  1. What to wear – Plan on wearing your swimsuit or clothes you don’t mind getting wet and can swim in if needed. Depending on the weather put on sunglasses, hat, and always wear sunscreen. Last but not least, wear a life jacket or life belt. Police will often ticket you if you are not carrying a life jacket and to state the obvious… It can save your life.
  1. Board and Paddle – Choose a large board for your first time. I’m 5’11” and use a 10’6”-10’8” board because it’s just easier to cruise around on. Most paddles are adjustable, so extend your arm vertically as high as it can reach and that is how high your paddle handle should go when standing on the ground.
  1. Start Paddling – Put the board in the water, leash around your ankle and sit on your knees in the middle of the board, typically over the carrying handle of the board. Paddle out like a canoe or kayak to an area that you are comfortable.
  1. Standing up – Here’s where the fun begins. Slowly, being careful to hold on to your paddle in one hand, and hands down on the board for balance, put one foot down then carefully the other down about shoulders-width apart. You should be in a kneeling position at this point. Put your paddle vertically (blade down) in front of you in the middle of your board and slowly rise the rest of the way up, keeping your knees slightly bent.


  1. Paddle – You now should feel like you have your balance. Look forward to where you want to paddle (Try not to look at the board or your feet as this may throw off your balance), grab the top of the paddle handle, other hand in the middle of the pole and place the blade in the water and row. Alternate sides left or right and you are successfully paddling! If you ever feel like you are about to lose your balance, place the paddle vertically in front of you blade down on the board (Remember do not lock your knees, keep them slightly bent). Take a seat or lie down on the board when you are tired. Have fun and enjoy!
man and woman boat rowing in sea during golden hour

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on