How Do You SUP (Launching, Standing, Balancing, Paddling, and Getting Back)?

Stand-up paddle boarding is definitely one of the most straightforward and effortless water board sports to learn. With a considerable sense of balance and moderate fitness, almost all can learn to stand on a paddle board in less than an hour. Unlike surfing which is wave-dependent, flat water is the ideal scenario for a beginner to practice SUP with the use of a wide board and a paddle to propel through the water.
How Do You SUP

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Depending on your location and access to lakes and rivers, you can begin your exciting SUP journey by launching on a shore or a nearby dock. Keep in mind that it is always safe to stay low by kneeling or lying on board to maintain balance when in shallow water before fully standing up. Maximize your paddling efficiency by fully planting the blade in the water before every single stroke. Stand-up paddling is surely one of the water sports used for various activities, making it more fun to learn and explore.

How Do You Ride a SUP?

For beginner stand-up paddlers, it is best to practice in calm, flat water or on the ocean with small waves. To make it easier to stand on a paddle board, choose a board that is wide and long enough for your size. We recommend using a board size of around 30-31 inches long and 10-11 inches wide for starters. Don’t worry if it looks too big, as you can downsize your board when you get more comfortable in paddling.

Riding a SUP is very simple and straightforward. You just need to put your board in the water and get on your paddle board, starting with the kneeling position. Then, slowly stand up and be mindful to stay in the middle of the board to keep your balance. It is common to fall off the water sometimes when starting to learn. Remember that practice is the key to gaining more balance and more board control.

How Do I Launch a SUP?

There are different ways to launch in SUP. This variation depends on your starting location. You can start launching from shore, deck, or on waves. Although the general idea is to get into the board, some fundamental techniques are worth noting to successful launch in different situations. Read on to know how to launch properly in different scenarios.

Launch SUP from Shore:

  • Get into knee-deep water: Carry your board and paddle into knee-deep water. Pick a spot that is not too shallow so that your board fins don’t get dented. On the other hand, you also do not want to go too deep, so you can easily get on top of your board.
  • Place your paddle: Hold your paddle using one hand and lay it across the deck; let the paddle blade rest on the water to give you additional balance.
  • Ride with your knees: Before getting up, the board stabilizes by holding both edges of your board. Try to get into the center of the board, starting with your knees.
  • Lie down if needed: If it is hard for you to use your knees to get on top of the board, you can start by lying down your board as most surfers do. Then, paddle with your hand to move to a position where you can comfortably stand.
  • Paddle away from danger: Move to the position deep enough where you feel safe to stand and fall in the water. Be careful of rocks and other obstructions that you may hit when you fall.

Launch SUP from Dock:

  • Put your board in water: Slowly put your board in the water along the dock, starting with the board’s nose using the carry handle. You can also hold the leash on the tail to completely lay your board. Make sure not to damage your board and fins from the concrete or rocks below the dock.
  • Get on your board: With your board along the dock, start by sitting on the dock while putting your feet near the carry handle of your board.
  • Stand or Kneel: You can either go straight to a standing position as it is pretty easy if the dock is deep enough or start on kneeling position by slowly working your way down the board.
  • Paddle away slowly: Get away from the dock and remember that you are avoiding hitting the dock with your board and paddle.

Launch directly to surf:

  • Wade into the water: Hold your board with your hand and your paddle with your other hand. Get into the water that is deep enough that your fin won’t hit the sand.
  • Place your board: When you are deep enough, place your board on the water. Next, place your hand on the tail of the board. This will let you control your board through the incoming waves.
  • Wait for the right timing: The perfect timing to hop on your board is when there are no more incoming waves or if there are only small incoming waves.
  • Ride your board: Unlike riding from calm water, you may want to position yourself a little further back on the board. Doing this will help you in paddling and pushing through the wave.
  • Paddle out of the surf zone: It is advisable to stay on your knees while paddling out of the surf zone. This will help you gain more balance and avoid falling into the water.

How Do I Get the SUP Off My Dock?

Returning to the dock requires cautiousness and careful observation of your surroundings. However, you most likely don’t one to get your paddle board damaged when returning to the dock. Below are the steps to safely get out of water:

  • Slowly paddle to the dock: Go to dock very slowly. Make sure you do not hit the dock with your board or paddle.
  • Put a foot up the dock: After getting close enough to the dock, put one foot up the dock, then slowly put to other foot off the board. You can control the SUP from the deck using your paddle.
  • Or sit down: Another option after getting close to the deck is to sit down on the deck simply.
  • Grab your SUP: To get your SUP out of the water, grab the leash from the end tail and put your board onto the dock. Be careful not to damage the bottom part of your board or the fins.

How Do You Stand Up on a SUP?

Standing on SUP is quite a challenge, whether starting from the shore or a dock. Learning the fundamental steps for standing in SUP will significantly help you stand confidently on your paddle board. Here’s a quick guide to standing up on your board successfully.

  • Put the board into the water: To safely ride your paddle board, ensure that the water is deep enough and your board fins are not hitting the bottom.
  • Start in kneeling position: Get in your board one knee at a time. You may want to get in the middle part of the SUP to maintain board equilibrium.
  • Move deep enough: Paddle a little farther from the shore before you stand. Make sure you are positioned deep enough so you won’t hit the bottom when you fall. Keep clear of rocks and other obstacles that may harm you when you fall on the water.
  • Slowly stand: As you begin to stand up, you can bend your knees slightly before fully standing up. Give your feet sufficient distance from each other for more balance.

Where Do You Stand on a SUP?

To keep your SUP board stable, always stand on the middle part of your board. You may notice that when you put more weight at the tail of your board, the nose will begin to rise, and the tail part will sink. This makes the center of the board the most stable and ideal part to stand on a SUP board, especially on calm water.

While standing on the board, your feet should also be adequately apart from each other. Maintaining this position will surely help you stand in your SUP boards steadily. If you are still having a hard time maintaining balance on your board, you may want to consider using a larger SUP board.

Can You Sit on a SUP?

It is absolutely safe to sit on your paddleboard on calm and stable waters. But remember to make sure that you are perfectly balanced before sitting on your board. Most paddlers doing other activities on SUP usually sit and lie on their boards like for those doing yoga, fishing, or just eating and drinking while enjoying the scenery.

It is also advisable to sit on your board when you feel exhausted from paddling for many hours—paddling while sitting is also very calming if you are into a slow and relax ride. Slowing down a bit releases stress and anxiety while being surrounded by water and enthralling nature. SUP is indeed an effective full-body workout and an effective way to destress.

How Do I Keep My Balance in SUP?

Balancing is unquestionably the most challenging part when starting paddle boarding. Most board-related sports need a good sense of balance and core strength. Although stand-up paddling is relatively easier than other board sports, you still need some degree of fitness to balance on your paddle board successfully. Below are a few pieces of advice to keep your balance in SUP:

  • Have the right gear: This is probably the most important advice for beginners. You may want to have a paddle board that is adequate for your weight and a paddle that fits your height. In addition, you may want to have a broader board than the suggested size for easier balance. It is evident that it is easier to balance on a wider board and much harder for a smaller board.
  • Start on kneeling position: Slowly get on top of your board one knee at a time, and you do not need to rush yourself when getting on board. Kneeling on your board gives your more control than directly standing on SUP. You can also start by lying on a paddle board like surfers do if you find kneeling challenging.
  • Stand in the middle: Always position yourself at the middle part of the board when standing on flat water. Standing in the middle part will steady your board and will give you more balance to prevent you from falling. You can also keep your knees bend before fully standing up.
  • Use the paddle: Start paddling while looking forward to your destination. Avoid staring down on your feet and board while SUPing. If you feel like you are going out of balance, bend your knees and put your paddle on the water to gain stability. Then, continue paddling and enjoy nature!

How Do You Paddle a SUP?

Balancing and paddling is a struggle for those new at stand-up paddling and usually takes some time to master. However, learning the proper paddling techniques and disciplines is applicable in any SUP activities. Here are a few tricks to help you paddle effortlessly:

  • Have the right paddle size: The general rule to know the optimal size of a paddle is the paddler’s height plus 9 to 10 inches. For instance, you are 6 feet tall; you may want to get a paddle size of 6 feet 9 or 6 feet 10 paddles.
  • Look forward: Always keep your eyes on the horizon and avoid staring down at your board and looking at your paddle.
  • Avoid switching sides: To paddle faster and continuously, you should avoid paddling on different sides. Switching will make you slower and lost momentum.
  • Hold the paddle correctly: To paddle straight, hold your paddle perpendicular to the water. Diagonally holding your paddle will turn your board and takes more effort. Instead, paddle using both of your hands; place one hand on the paddle handle and the other hand on the paddle shaft.
  • Paddle towards SUP: Start digging away from your board and paddle towards yourself. Make sure that the blade angle turns toward the rail if you want to go forward.
  • Use your body: Slightly bend your knees as you dig and utilize your abdominal muscles aside from your arm and shoulder while paddling.

What Is the Correct Way to Use a SUP Paddle?

To use the paddle more effectively, make sure you got the correct length for your paddle. To know the proper paddle for your height, simply add 8 to 12 inches to your height. To make a perfect grip width, start paddling, hold the paddle above your head, then bend your elbows 90 degrees, one hand lightly grasping the T-grip while the other hand on the shaft.

The blade angle should face forward while the power face is going to the tail. Make it a practice to fully plant the blade on the water when making a stroke. Reach far forward to cover more water, then pull up the blade as it reaches the tail of the board. Remember to engage your core muscles, not just your arms, to be more efficient and do not tire quickly.

Which Way Should a SUP Paddle Face?

It is common for most beginner paddlers to hold the blade towards you, like scooping water. While this seems to be the obvious way to hold the paddle, it is actually wrong. This way, holding the paddle creates more drag, much strenuous, reduces your reach, and scoop up water at the exit.

The more efficient placement of the paddle and the correct way is that the blade should face away from you. This positioning will catch more water, produce more power while exerting less effort, have a clean and neutral release at the exit. Mastering proper paddling disciplines takes practice and consistent observance. Performing this correct paddling technique will surely make you an efficient paddler.

How Do I Make My SUP Paddle Faster?

Before learning to get quicker on SUP, make sure you master the basics of stand-up paddling like balancing, turning, and paddling if you are preparing to get into your first-ever SUP race. In addition, you would need to have a decent paddling speed and board control to be competitive. Here are some tips to get faster in SUP without tiring yourself out.

  • Increase efficiency: Like other physical sports, you can improve your efficiency by removing unnecessary actions and reducing your movements while generating more power in each stroke. You may try to record the number of strokes you make to cover a certain distance. This will help you indicate your paddling efficiency.
  • Paddle straight: It is common knowledge in paddling that changing the paddle side will make you go slower. You can avoid changing sides if you paddle straightly.
  • Use your core: It is exhausting for your arms and shoulder to do all the work when paddling. Instead, practice getting strength from your core and body in each stroke. Keeping a straight back will help you utilize your core muscles.
  • Proper posture: Stand up straight but not very rigid. You can bend your knees or hips a little when digging through the water. Keep your spine straight to avoid back injury.
  • Reach farther: Reach as far forward with your paddle to get the most of each row. A longer stroke makes more work done and much more energy efficient. Remember to reach only to the best of your capacity.
  • Get the right timing: You would make the most of each stroke when perfectly timing your catch and release. Make sure your dig is enough before exerting energy to row. And do not lift your paddle prematurely to gain more speed. The correct timing to exit your paddle is before it reaches your feet.

How Do You Steer a SUP?

Turning your paddle board is a vital skill for stand-up paddling. Coordination between your body weight, feet, and paddle are essential to smoothly steer in SUP. There are numerous ways to steer and turn a paddle board like forward sweep, crossbow turn, and reserve sweep stroke. Here’s a detailed guide on how to successfully navigate a SUP board:

Forward sweep stroke: This steering technique is the easiest to learn and inarguably best for beginners. Forward sweep provides a stand-up paddler a lot of board stability and control.

  • Stabilize SUP board: Before going to turn, make sure to have a stable board by widening your stance. You could also bend your knees and hips a little to gain more board balance.
  • Choose your direction: To move to your left, sweep on your right side while sweeping on your left side moves you to the right.
  • Reach forward: As you begin to paddle, reach forward near the nose like doing a regular stroke and submerge your blade entirely on water.
  • Perform a “sweep”: Instead of the regular rowing of your paddle from the nose to the tail, make a sweeping motion by making a wide sweep like drawing a half-circle from nose to tail to steer the SUP.

Crossbow turn: A crossbow or crossover turn is a great way to maintain your speed by steering the board without switching your hands that can cause you to slow down.

  • Twist your body: If you are planning to turn right, twist your body to the right side and place your paddle on the right side of the board. Then, you can mirror this position when going to the left.
  • Keep a low stance: Bend your knee and hips and keep a low stance before doing a turn. Like most turns, you would want to have a stable board before turning.
  • Sweep passing the nose: To steer the SUP board do a wide sweep from the nose to the tail. By sweeping pass through the nose to the tail, you will not lose a lot of momentum build up.

Reverse sweep stroke:

  • Start on the tail: Unlike regular strokes, reverse sweep starts by placing the paddle near the end of the tail.
  • Bend knees: Same as other turning techniques, you would want to bend your knees more to get more radius of the sweeping motion and have more balance.
  • Sweep from tail to nose: Make a wide arch sweeping motion from the tail to the nose. The wider you draw the arch, the more effective the turn.

How Do I Get Back on a SUP?

Falling off and getting back on a SUP board is a common occurrence for all stand-up paddlers. It is best always to have the board leash attach to you for your own safety and other people around you. Doing this will help you save time finding and get close to your board to get back on top of the board more quickly. Hold the carry handle with your less dominant hand while your dominant hand grabs onto the rails.

Once you have a firm grip on the carry handle and the rails, slowly raise both of your legs on the water surface and kick the water behind you. Let your stomach slide onto the center of your paddle board. You do not need to pull yourself up to the board, just let your body slide and lie on the board. Sit or kneel whenever you are ready, and there you are back on your SUP board!

How Do You Put the SUP Back in Deep Water?

Unlike in shallow waters, successfully getting back on SUP in deep water is much challenging. Knowing how to swim is a great advantage when in deep waters. Below is the step-by-step guide on getting back on SUP in deep water.

  • Hold the carry handle: Position body perpendicular to the board while your less dominant hand and grab the rails with your dominant hand.
  • Raise both legs: To prepare to mount back onto your SUP, raise both of your legs on the water surface. Then, kick the water behind you to move your body to the board.
  • Slide not pull: Most common mistake people do is pull themselves up using their hands and the board. Doing this will cause your paddle board to flip over. Sliding your stomach into the board is the most effective way to get yourself on top of the board.
  • Sit or Kneel: With your body on the board, you can either sit or kneel before standing up and continue enjoying stand-up paddling.

Additional tip: If you are not wearing a leash, locate your board first before getting your paddle.

What Are the Four Golden Rules of Getting on Your SUP?

Learning the proper way to SUP is a huge advantage to be effective in stand-up paddling. These four golden rules of stand-up paddling are the foundation to effective skill development. Here are the four golden rules to follow for correct SUP progression:

  • Rule no. 1: Plant your blade fully in the water before starting a stroke, and fully immersing the blade before paddling gives more stability. The bigger the blade’s surface area touches the water, the more power it generates and will make a single stroke much efficient.
  • Rule no. 2: Always assume the ‘ready position’ while paddling. A ready position is both knees slightly bent while keeping the back straight and having the feet away from each other. Bending the knees and feet apart provides balance and board control. And a straight back will let you engage your core muscles for paddling.
  • Rule no. 3: Engage your core muscles in each stroke. Beginner stand-up paddlers mainly use their arms for paddling, which results in tiring easily. Using your core muscles for paddling adds a more significant power source which will make paddling faster.
  • Rule no. 4: Keep your board as quiet as possible. Having a quiet board means a stable and efficient board. You will achieve a quiet board by consistently applying rule number 1 to rule number 3.

How Do You SUP in the Ocean?

To begin stand-up paddling in an open ocean, you need a certain level of skill and to first master the basics of SUP. In addition, stand-up paddling in the ocean can always be dangerous and life-threatening. Therefore, learning the safety measures for SUP in the ocean is a must if you plan to try it out. Below are the safety tips worth considering for ocean SUP:

  • Buy a life vest: The chance of falling off the water in the ocean is vast compared to calm waters as the ocean’s current, wave, and wind conditions are almost always rougher. Get a lightweight life vest to help you stay safe on deep ocean water.
  • Learn to swim: Most of the stand-up paddlers and water sports enthusiast knows how to swim. Swimming is a lifesaving skill that is a must-have for any ocean goer. Water condition changes fast in the ocean. Paddle back or swim to the shore when waves get coarser.
  • Check the weather forecast: Like paddling in the calm waters, it is a common practice for ocean paddling to know the tide, current, and wind conditions before heading out. Learn where is the best location to SUP and the perfect time to start.
  • Know your limit: For first-time ocean stand-up paddlers, it is best to paddle around the edge of the surf to get familiar with the ocean. Only SUP on an area where you can confidently swim back to the shore is a common safety practice to determine how far you should go.

Different bodies of water require a different set of techniques for stand-up paddling. SUP racing and SUP surfing are two of the popular activities on the ocean. Depending on the SUP activity you want to do in the ocean determines the skill you need to focus on improving. Always be mindful of your surrounding and stay safe as you enjoy paddle boarding in the ocean.

How Do You SUP in Choppy Water?

Almost all experienced surfers will give you the advice to bend your knees when paddling in choppy water. However, this simple gesture of bending knees creates a significant impact on your stability because this makes your knees act like a shock absorber. Always keep your back straight when in this position to avoid back injury and engage the core while paddling.

On other occasions, bending one’s knees is not enough to gain balance. On these very choppy water conditions, you could shift to a kneeling position. Some places with extreme choppy waters make standing on SUP not viable for few hours. Be patient and remain to kneel while paddling until you reach calmer water where it is safe to stand.

How Do You Paddle in Bigger Surf on a SUP?

The ride over or the pop over is the most effective and commonly used technique in getting out of big surf. Unlike in surfing, the duck dive technique does not usually work on stand-up paddle boarding. Facing head-on the wave and getting over it is the best option for SUP. Check out this step-by-step guide on paddling through a wave:

  • Approach wave directly: It is crucial to face the wave straight as possible. Doing this will help prevent the board from getting knocked over. It is also the fastest way to get out of the wave.
  • Increase speed: When approaching an incoming wave, generate as much speed as needed. You will gain resistance to the surf’s forward blow by increasing speed.
  • Put weight at tail: Lift the board nose depending on the size of the wave by putting more weight at the back. You can do this by stepping a little back to the tail part before approaching the wave.
  • Paddle forward: Time your paddle when you hit the wave to gain more stability and produce a forward movement to get out of the wave. Then, continue paddling to move forward.
  • Put weight forward: Make a two-step forward as you are going over the wave. This will prevent you from falling backward after hitting the wave.

How Do You SUP Through a Wave?

Stand-up paddling on incoming waves is a real challenge a needs a lot of practice. Most surfing techniques can also be used to get through the wave. Follow this guide to learn how to paddle well through a wave:

  • Advance directly: Your board position should be straight into the incoming wave. You are most likely to flip over if your board is perpendicular or at an angle to the wave.
  • Proper stance: To gain extra balance, keep your feet apart from each other. It is also best to stand a little bit backward near the tail part of the SUP when approaching waves and whitewater. Bend your knees and straighten your back as you paddle.
  • Continue Paddling: When approaching a wave, increase your speed by continually paddling. Breaking waves and white waters make the board unstable. To gain more control, put your paddle in water or paddle through it until you made it through.
  • Shift weight forward: The best time to put your weight forward is as you exit the whitewater or the wave. This will counterbalance the backward pull of a crashing wave.

Can You SUP in Wind?

Minimal wind speed traveling under 10 knots is primarily safe for a stand-up paddler of any skill level. In comparison, powerful winds generate choppy waves that make balancing more difficult. It is not advisable and dangerous to SUP in this kind of wind condition. Strong winds will also take you in a direction you didn’t plan to go and can keep you away from the shore.

Although some can easily paddle in 10 knots wind speed, make sure to only head out in wind condition that you can confidently SUP. One safety rule in stand-up paddling is never to paddle out farther than you can swim. Checking the weather forecast, planning routes, and learning wind conditions for the day before heading out is also common practice for SUP.

How Much Wind Is Too Much for SUP?

A wind speed of 10 to 12 knots is the wind limit for most kiteboarders on flat water. However, a wind speed of more than 12 knots or 22 kph is dangerous, especially for inexperienced riders. Although everyone has their own limit in SUP, a strong wind is the most hazardous factor for stand-up paddle boarding.

It is a good practice to check the weather forecast for incoming rain, wind speed, and temperature for the day before heading out to SUP. While weather forecast apps are mostly reliable, be mindful of a sudden change in wind power and direction. If you observe stronger wind than expected, more whitecaps forming, and larger waves than usual that could affect your balance, it will be best to postpone SUP activity and get to the shore for safety.