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The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Stand up Paddle Boarding


The Ultimate Beginner's Guide

Summers and the lift in restrictions due to the vaccine bring about a massive range of fun water-based activities that allow you to have fun in the sun. One of these activities takes shape in the form of paddleboarding. Like surfing, paddleboards combine the thrill of gliding on a water body and combines it with the relaxation of staying afloat with the tides of the water. 

A highly versatile, flexible, and accessible activity presents a safe platform for you and your family to share. This article will discuss all things that involve paddle boarding - everything from how to buy a paddleboard to riding it.  This article will also dive into some complications, insurance policies, and equipment that you need to get started.  

How to Choose Your First Paddle Board

Choosing the best board depends on your needs and requirements. More importantly, it should also reflect your size and purpose.  Before you pick out the best board for your need, make sure that you know about the different types of boards. 

When you browse across the different types of boards, you will find that each one differs in material and size.  In the broader context, you will find that there are two types of paddleboards — one that is solid and another that is inflatable. 

The differences between the two are very few, with both having almost the same performance and speed characteristics. However, inflatable paddle boards are more superior when it comes to portability, lightweight, and durability.   

Moreover, each board, whether inflatable or solid, comes in different shapes and sizes. The size and weight of each board determine the weight capacity that they carry. This means that you have to purchase a  board that will support your weight without any inconveniences, along with the weight of your children or dog together if you want to use it as a family board.

For all of these reasons, a paddleboard is clearly not a one-size-fits-all solution, and you have to consider many factors before you can select one.  In terms of the shape of the paddle board, you can invest either in the all-round boards, which are most famous for beginners, or in touring boards that have more of a pointy head. 

An all-rounded board provides more stability on unstable water bodies such as the ocean. On the other hand, touring boards can provide you with a better glide on flat-water bodies such as lakes. This is why people that paddleboard for long distances on lakes and rivers will often use touring boards with pointy edges. 

Therefore, before you invest in a paddle board, make sure that the particular board serves your purpose of the purchase and offers full functionality, whether you want to have fun at the beach with your family or go on long-distance adventures. 

Also keep in mind that a solid board can last you a much longer time, considering that you have a proper place to keep it, and that you can maintain it. Moreover, most people make the mistake of prioritizing the length of the board when looking at the dimensions.

When it comes to dimensions, the length of the board is not as important, instead, the width and the volume of the board is the more significant aspect to look at. For the board to comfortably support your weight, or the weight of the people that will use it, the volume should perfectly correspond with the maximum body weight. 

For example, if you are 200 pounds, then you should prefer getting a board that has roughly 170 to 200 liters of volume.  By getting the right volume board, the rails of the paddle board will be about half way in the water and the other half in air. 

This not only gives you stability but also allows you to plant your feet better.  If you purchase a board with too much volume, then the board will be slightly above the water, making for a very shaky and misbalanced ride. 

Therefore, when looking at dimensions, note that the increasing width gives you side-to-side stability. On the other hand, a narrower board will be faster because it encounters less drag against the water flow. 

Other small details also make a big difference in the performance and maneuverability of the paddleboard. However, beginners should not worry about that. It is always best to purchase a board that is not too short for someone starting out and has volume and size that corresponds to your weight and gives you maximum stability. 

A good advice when purchasing a paddleboard would be to invest in a second-hand beginner board. This will save you from making the high initial purchase on a beginner board that you will likely outgrow if you plan to use the board often.

 The more you use the board, the better you will get, and then, you will look for more demanding challenges. Thus, it is always better to make a heavy investment on a board when you are at an intermediate or advanced level of skill.

What are the Different Types of Paddle Board Equipments

The first and most obvious equipment that comes with a board is a paddle. Without a paddle, you will not be able to row board further. Choosing the right size of the paddle is easy, just make sure that you can rest your hand comfortably on the handle when you size it next to you. Another indication of a good paddle size would be to make sure that it covers your height and adds ten percent more. 

After that, you have equipment that can help your paddle boarding experience, such as the PFD or the portable floatation device. This safety equipment that is crucial for beginners that are not the best swimmers.

You can find it in a belt form that goes all around your waist. It comes with a yellow lever attached to it, and when you pull on the lever, the belt automatically inflates all around you. This activation of the belt happens because there is a CO2 cartridge inside the PFD. It also comes with a mouthpiece that allows you to inflate it by blowing on it manually. 

How to Find your Balance on the Paddle Board?

When you observe the board, you will find that all the paddle boards have a handle at the center of the board.  Now, the key secret to finding your balance on the board is to find the line that runs across the center handle. 

Once you identify this sweet spot, standing upright in full balance on the board will become much easier. Once you identify the line, make sure that your knees and feet are on both sides of the handle at all times, aligned with the centerline. 

The best position for a beginner to start with is the kneeling position.  This allows more stability and gives you a good idea of the flow of water.  Paddle boarding, in terms of mechanics and motion is very much like spearing.  Essentially, you to think of it as a spear, and thus, you want to be spearing into the water, and thrusting yourself forward.

Paddle Handling

Holding your paddle the right way can make a huge difference in how you leverage the paddle. Essentially, you want to make sure that you are grabbing the paddle from both your hands. The most common mistake that paddle boarders make is that they grab the paddle from the handle when they are on their knees. 

If you are in a kneeling position, you will not get the leverage that you want if your hands are on the handle of the paddle. The best hand positioning when you are on the kneeling position is to hold the paddle with both your hands partially close to each other, adjusted to get the best leverage. 

The best technique when paddling to go forward is to lead the paddle forward like your stabbing the water with a spear. Jam the spear right in front of you and make sure to paddle as close to the baord as possible. 

You want to make sure that you paddle about three to five times. It would help if you also were sure to keep your hands straight and switch sides. Another important step would be to submerge the head of the paddle completely inside the water when pulling back. 

The very reason why you must keep the paddle close to the board is that if you paddle too wide, you will likely start to zig zag and circle around in the same spot rather than moving straight forward.  Another beginner mistake that comes with paddling is that people will often not switch their hand positioning when switching paddling sides. 

Not switching your hands will make your job incredibly difficult since you will not be able to generate the thrust and leverage that you need to move the paddleboard forward. 

Stand Up Paddling Turning Technique

To turn your paddle board, you will use the help of your paddle.  It simply requires you to turn your paddle sideways once you submerge it in front of you. Once you have the paddleboard slanted diagonally, make a wide and big stroke on either the left or right side of the board. 

The physics of this technique works, simply because you are pushing yourself away from the water on either side of the board, which as a result, is either moving you on the right or left side of the board, away from the water. 

Beginners make the mistake of performing small sidestrokes instead of bigger and wider ones. This results in them not turning as quickly or effectively as they would’ve liked.  Big and wide strokes allow you to turn more efficiently. 

Braking Technique

Again, to efficiently stop, or brake the paddle board from moving at a direction, you need to ensure that the whole head of the paddle submerges into the water. If you do not do so, then it will completely defeat the purpose of putting your paddle against the flow, so that an opposing force results in the board stopping. 

Making a U-Turn

Making a U-turn is very important because if allows you to turn at a 360 degrees angle without having to take wide sideways strokes.  Even though it is possible to take sidestroke for U-turns, there is another energy-efficient and less time-consuming way to make u-turn. It involves doing a reverse stroke and as the board goes backwards, use your hips to rotate all the way around. 

Standing Up on a Paddle Board

Switching from the kneeling position to the standing position may be the hardest step for a beginner. However, mastering it will surely kick-start your paddle boarding journey. The way you want to initiate this is by putting both your hands on the board while holding the paddle. 

Once you place your hands in line with your knees, you want to put your weight on your hands. Putting your weight on your hands is very important because it allows you to control the board with your hands. This is the first step of your stand-up motion. The maneuver requires you to plant your feet on the board and sit in a squatted position. 

Once you secure the squatted position on the board, carefully lift yourself up in the upright position. Once standing, make sure that you are looking over your shoulders and not slouching forward.  Maintaining posture is incredibly important when it comes to standup paddling. 

A slight shift in posture can result in you falling off the board. Furthermore, once you are on your feet, it now makes sense to hold the paddle with the handle when rowing. 

What are the best Paddle Boarding Clothes to Wear?

Your clothing choice depends on the weather conditions around the water body you choose to paddle board on. If the temperature is hot, then you can wear summer clothes. Make sure that the material you wear protects you from the harmful rays of the sun.

Clothes that are loose, breathable and light-colored are the best options when the sunrays are scorching down on you. If the weather you are paddle boarding in is quite warm, a wet suite can be uncomfortable.  

In terms of footwear, many veteran paddle boarders will tell you that they feel the most comfortable paddle boarding bare feet. However, sometimes the water is too cold and you will be better off wearing shoes. Make sure that the shoes or trainers you have on give you the grip that you will need to stay on the board.

Basic Safety Instructions

Even though it looks like a fun and close shore activity, paddle boarding can also be the result of many incidents if you do not give importance to the safety tips. The first safety check that you have to do before you paddle board is the weather.  

This mostly involves checking the wind direction. If you feel the wind is too strong, then you must wait until the weather settles. As a beginner, you will not have the technique to paddleboard in windy conditions. If the wind is blowing away from the shore, it can drag towards the deep end of the ocean, causing all sorts of problems to you. 

Furthermore, if you are at the beach, make sure that the entry surface is sandy and soft. It would also help if you ensured that the water beneath you is deep enough so that you do not get hurt if you fall. 

Another thing that you must have with you at all times, especially as a beginner, is a nylon string that attaches the paddle board to your ankle.  This keeps your board attached to your body at all times. So, in case you fall, the board does not sway away from you. 

How to Discover New Routes for Paddle Boarding?

Paddle boarding allows you to explore the waters first hand and discover new places. Inflatable paddle boards are travel friendly, which means that you can easily deflate them, roll them up in a bag and travel to different places looking to paddle different waters. 

When discovering new locations to paddle board, there is not any single way to do it. The best way, however, would be an online search. Satellite images on Google are an excellent way to figure out the water trails and read some of the reviews to find out whether the place is paddle-board friendly. 

Another great way to locate great venues is by speaking to local paddling groups or finding communities online in your area that go on group paddleboarding adventures. All of this can be very useful, not only for discovering new areas close to your vicinity but also to make new friends. 

Beginners paddle boarders can gain immense benefits in the venue of paddle boarding by joining a club. Just purchasing a board and casually paddling is not recommendable because paddle boarding is not as easy as it may look. 

If you want a flat surface that allows you to relax on the water, then begi9nners can opt for solo paddles in a casual setting. However, if you wish to stand-up paddle board, then you must not fall for the misconception that paddle boarding is easy.

This mistake often leads to people quitting their paddle board journey, just because their first experience was bad. Much of this is due to the lack of formal training beforehand. This is why, it is imperative to seek guidance from experts and acquire proper training before you can casually paddleboard alone.

Can You Just Paddle Board Anywhere?

You cannot just paddleboard anywhere. Everybody of water, beach, riverside, or lake, has specific regulations towards paddle boarding, and you must follow that. Before you start paddling somewhere new, you must do your research online to decrease your chances of running into a sanction. 

Do Not Lose your Fin

Without a fin, paddleboarding is nearly impossible. If you were to enter the water without a fin, you would likely go around in circles. The fin is there to help you track and move in a straight line. It causes the drag at the back of your board so that the board can slow down. 

Fins come in different shapes and sizes. In a particular board, you add up to six fins. Generally, most boards will have a single fin attached in the center position. If you do invest in fins, make sure that they are sturdy and durable so that they do not damage when hit against the rocks.

To Conclude

Over the last couple of years,  paddleboarding is rising in popularity, and maybe people are willing to take up this sport for either leisure or working out.  Because the lockdown is starting to ease, people are looking to boost their health by taking up fun endurance challenges, and paddleboarding is the embodiment of both of these. 

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