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Learn how to paddle onto the board with the correct SUP technique

by valwix support 17 Apr 2023 0 Comments

If you've been looking for something or a person to teach you how to paddle a board using proper SUP technique, this is what you've been looking for! Read on and I guarantee you will be a specialist in the making by the end of this article.

I cover here all the basics about paddling on the board and what it takes to be successful at it. So you'll be fully armed in terms of theory, and then all you have to do is put it into practice. Are you ready to start paddling mentally? Let's begin!

How to SUP for beginners

Before we get out our virtual boards and paddle into the sunset, there are a few essentials you should know about paddling gear that will make all later tips make more sense.

SUP Technique: Types of SUP boards

SUPs are of course made in all sizes and shapes, but there are two main categories. There are hard boards and inflatable boards. Both are equally good when it comes to specific uses and both have their place within the world of paddling.

Hard paddle boards are often made of regular plastic, which is the heaviest option (and also the cheapest on the market), fiberglass with epoxy, which is quite light, or carbon fiber.

The latter are the lightest boards of all (they also have the best performance and are usually the most expensive). You can read more about this in my in-depth article on choosing the right board for you personally.

As I won't go into much detail about these 3 types here, since you can find all the info in the link above, I'll just briefly say what would be the best choice for beginners here.

For anyone who has never tried paddling or up to 3 times and doesn't own a board, I would recommend a wider, longer and thicker than average board. This would most often be made of epoxy and fiberglass, or carbon fiber if not too expensive. I recommend SUP beginners to get a 30 inch board that is about 11 feet long.

The reason is that this will give you the most stability to learn the basics of SUP riding on flat water. Then, as you learn, you can eventually move on to smaller, more professional boards that will also glide faster and smoother through the water.

If you're still unsure before you spend all your money, you can also go to the nearest rental shop and try different types of boards one by one. Try each board more than once as it takes a little getting used to. This is how you make the right decision.

SUP technique: equipment and accessories for paddling on the board

As a trendy, popular sport that burns a lot of calories, you will find a lot of equipment and accessories for SUP paddling. Some things may not be that important at first, but some extra gear is actually important for safety and paddling fun. This is for example the following:

A Paddle: Oh no, really, you might say now. The purpose of paddling is to have a paddle?! Alright, sometimes I have to play Captain Obvious as I want all future pro paddlers to know and be well prepared. So, let's talk about paddles.

They come in a variety of materials, but it all comes down to personal preference, as long as the material doesn't make the paddle too heavy. You need something light, otherwise you won't be able to paddle as long. While there are many sizes, the general rule is that the paddle should reach 6 to 10 inches above the paddler's head.

If you plan to use the paddle in shallow water, get a longer paddle, and if you plan to surf, get a shorter one. Make sure the blade is curved at a slight angle towards the bar to give you more reach when you hit.

A Band: A What? A SUP ankle strap ties you to the board in case you fall off. Straps like this are pretty good at keeping your board close if you fall off. By the way, for more safety, boards are made to float so you can stay afloat no matter what the circumstances.

Board Bags: Remember, the better you treat your gear, the longer it will last. Inflatable boards already come with a bag, but if you have chosen a hard board you should also protect it with a suitable bag.

Life jacket/buoyancy aid: Wearing a buoyancy aid is a legal requirement if you intend to paddle outside of designated areas for paddling, surfing, or recreational on-water activities.

So, I hope it won't take you too much effort to master standing on a SUP. But if it does, don't lose heart. It's normal to fall during your first attempts to stand, even if you're already paddling. The first few weeks are the hardest, but then it starts to really get fun.

Posture is a key to good balance on the board.

Position your feet parallel, about the width of your hips, and centered on the edges of the board.

Keep your toes pointed forward, your knees slightly bent, and your back straight.

Also, keep your head and shoulders up and straight, and shift your weight with hip movements.

Your gaze should rest on the level of the horizon. Avoid staring at your feet as this can cause you to lose your balance.

SUP Technique: Paddle Techniques

This is where the real fun begins. There are basically three different types of strokes, all of which use your paddle as a pressure lever. The top hand will control the lever while the bottom hand will be the fulcrum.

The Forward Stroke

Captain Obvious is back. As the name suggests, this punch moves you forward. Extend the paddle forward about 1.5 to 2 feet and push the paddle completely underwater. Then, pull the paddle back through the water to your ankle, lift it out of the water, and repeat this movement.

For this movement, you should keep your arms straight and your core slightly contracted as you rotate your torso as you paddle. Focus on pushing down on the paddle handle with your top hand rather than pulling the paddle back with your bottom arm.

Another pretty logical point is that to stay in a straight line, you should do your paddling strokes evenly on both sides of the board. You can alternate hits, or you can do about three to four hits on one side and then switch to the other side.

The reverse punch

I'll continue with the tips for paddling. The main purpose of the reverse paddle stroke is to slow down or hold the board so you can float on the water and change direction. So, logically, it's pretty much the opposite of the forward punch.

If you're paddling on the right side, reach behind you and push the paddle into the water near the back of the board. Make sure the blade is completely below the surface of the water.

As with the forward stroke, you should keep your arms straight and rotate at torso level, rather than pulling the paddle forward with your arms.

If you do the backstroke on the right side of the board, it will cause the tip of the board to shift to the right, and vice versa.


You will use this type of shot to flip your board while stationary. A turning shot on the right side of the board will turn the board to the left, and the opposite is true the other way around.

Reach forward 1.5 to 2 feet with the paddle and sink it into the water. Then push the paddle away from the board in a large arc motion, following the direction from the front of the board to the back, rotating your torso and using your legs and hips for more leverage.

SUP technique: paddling tips for on the go

There are some quick paddle tips that will help you once you get on the SUP. Remember the following advice to avoid typical SUP mistakes.

  • Hold the paddle with one hand on top of the handle and the other hand underneath on the bar.
  • Keep your legs apart so that they're about shoulder height, while your feet are also parallel and your toes are pointing toward the tip of the board.
  • For a powerful stroke, your paddle grip should be a shoulder width away. Otherwise, with a grip that's too short, your shot will be too powerless, and won't propel your board as far forward as it should.
  • No matter what shots you throw, whether forwards, backwards or to turn, make sure you completely submerge your blade in the water. This needs to be done every time, and your shot should also be long. Use your muscles to pull.


  • Holding the paddle on the pole with both hands is wrong and will make it difficult to paddle properly. It might even cause you to lose balance.
  • Don't put yourself in a surfer position. This will make paddling on the flat water much, much harder. In addition, the chances that you will fall off are higher. So save your cool looking surfer pose for surfing.
  • Use your back, core, and pecs in addition to your arms when paddling. If you only paddle with your hands, you will get tired faster.

SUP technique: tips for transporting your board

Now that we've talked about how to stand up while paddling and how to hit different strokes, let's talk about the details of your precious board and all the accessories.

If you are an adventure lover like me, you will surely want to explore different lakes, coasts, rivers and other bodies of water once you have mastered your SUP skills. For this you have to transport your robust board over different types of terrain. If your board is inflatable, this will go naturally. Just carry it in the carry bag and inflate it on the spot before you start paddling.

But if you have a hard board that cannot be inflated, things are different. In that case, I have a few tips for you paddling buddy that will make transportation super easy, no matter where you are.

Shoulder Carry - Keep the front of the board on the ground while picking up the board from the back. Then, hold the board in the middle and shift your weight back to balance it on your head. Then you can shift the weight onto your shoulders and carry it away.

Carry by the handle - most boards have a small handle in the middle. Of course, this allows easy carrying.

Carrier system on the car - if you take your car far away it is best to install a carrier system on the roof to be able to transport the board on it. I would still recommend using a bag for the SUP to protect it during transport. Secure it with ratchet straps and you're safely on your way to your adventures.

Carrying it on flights – Well you've gotten to the point where you want to take your SUP on the plane, so my work is done there. I made you think paddling on the SUP is so great that you have to take it with you everywhere you go. Very nice!

But joking aside, if you're traveling by plane, you should use a padded bag for your SUP and be aware of any additional transport costs imposed by the airlines before booking your ticket.

SUP technique: when you fall off the board

Like I said before, in paddling you fall off 100 times and get back on the board 101 times and keep going. This is really the only way to effectively learn something new. While falling won't affect your morale, it could result in injury if you don't take the necessary precautions.

Since even the best of us fall off a board, it's useful to know the following techniques to get back on the SUP injury-free. Try to fall straight into the water every time and avoid aiming your fall onto the board. If you fall on the board, you are more likely to injure yourself.

If you fall, try to hold on to your paddle. It will float on the water just like the SUP, so you won't lose it even if you let go. If this happens, climb back on the board and paddle your hands to your paddle to retrieve it.

SUP technique: get back on the board

I talked about falling off, but how do you get back on the SUP? Well, you should know that this is similar to the situation when you get on the board for the first time - as if you never fell off. The only difference is your hurt ego, but I'm sure you can make up for that by paddling.

Move to the middle of the SUP and hold the board with one hand.

Let your legs float in the water and then slide your whole body onto the board. Then, like when you first stand on the SUP, take one leg at a time and stand up without keeping your knees completely straight.

SUP technique: additional tips

A few additional tips follow for your first adventure on the SUP. I wish someone would have given me these before I started learning to paddle. It would have saved me a lot of trouble, but well, at least I can teach you a lot now.

In the beginning, you shouldn't just pick any body of water type. Go to small, calm bodies of water, such as a lake or pond, that don't have any obstructions such as large plants, boats, or swimmers in the immediate vicinity.

Choose a day with little wind to improve your paddling in the beginning. However, if your activities on the SUP require wind, you should make sure to ride upwind so that you have the wind at your back when you come back. This will help you towards the end of your workout when you get tired.

Don't go out alone and don't paddle for more than 1.5 hours on your first SUP ride.

Hot deals

【Pre-sale】Valwix 12ft Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board 【Pre-sale】Valwix 12ft Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Vendor: Valwix
【Pre-sale】Valwix 12ft Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
ELECTRIC PUMP STANDING BY - Valwix stand up paddleboard comes with a dual stages inflation/deflation portable electric air pump. 8-min quick inflation which can blow up 2 SUPs in a row for family & friends. Do not let 20-min hand pumping kill your paddling...
【Pre-sale】Valwix 12ft Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board 【Pre-sale】Valwix 12ft Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Vendor: Valwix
【Pre-sale】Valwix 12ft Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
ELECTRIC PUMP STANDING BY - Valwix stand up paddleboard comes with a dual stages inflation/deflation portable electric air pump. 8-min quick inflation which can blow up 2 SUPs in a row for family & friends. Do not let 20-min hand pumping kill your paddling...
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