Fundamental SUP Skills: Getting To Your Feet
Paddling for the first time can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. With these simple tips from our archives, you’ll have a great introductory experience.
When renting or borrowing board, make sure you have all the required gear like a leash and a PFD (the Coast Guard and local sheriffs can be sticklers). The paddle should be adjusted to your height—your hand should rest comfortably on the handle with a relaxed, nearly straight arm. Now it’s time to get started.
How to Find Your Feet
Relax and have fun. Pick a location with calm, flat water and a day where the wind is minimal. You’ll want to start with a board that’s at least 10 feet long and 32 inches wide.
Start shallow. Walk your board out from a beach, whether on a flat river, reservoir or coastline, until you’re knee deep (you don’t want your fin stuck in the sand). Place your paddle horizontally across the top of the deck pad. Notice the hand hold in the center, and climb on all fours with your knees on either side of the carry handle. With your shoulders over wrists—not holding the paddle—look up. Take a deep breath. Rock the board under you a little by shifting your weight from side to side—every board is different and you want to get a feel for the stability and how much play you’ve got. You’ll be fine, you’re on a large, stable platform.
Stand up. Bring your right foot up parallel with the hand-hold. Get your foot close to the outside edge or ‘rail,’ of the board. Keep your hand flat and pull your belly up and in. Get your eyes back on the horizon and set the other foot parallel and toward the outside rail. Keep your belly firm to support your lower back and grab your paddle. Shift your eyes up. Push through the balls of your feet and grab the handle of the paddle. Get the blade in the water as soon as possible. Forward movement will help with stability so take a few strokes on either side of your board. Remember to keep your head up and breathe. Have fun. If you’re still unstable to start, you can also take a few strokes from your knees and then try standing.