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SUP / Stand Up Paddle Board

Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) offers a fun way to play on the water, with the added benefit of a full-body workout. And, since you stand at full height on your board, it gives you a unique vantage point for viewing what’s down under the water and out on the horizon. Before you head out on the water for the first time, it’s helpful to know a little bit about SUP gear and basic technique. To get started paddle boarding, you’ll want to learn:

  • How to get geared up to SUP
  • Basic SUP paddling techniques; just a few skills will ensure you don’t end up paddling in circles.
  • A few helpful tips for your first SUP outing (hint: try to make wind your friend).
  • Proper clothing: During the summer months on a warm body of water, most people choose to wear some combination of a swimsuit, board shorts, and a short- or long-sleeved rash guard for sun protection.
  • Sun protection: Wear sunscreen, sunglasses and sun-protective clothing.
  • How to Stand Up on Your SUP

Practice this technique for standing up:

  1. Stand alongside the board in about knee-deep water (just deep enough that the fins on the board don’t hit the bottom).
  2. Hold the board by the edges and work your way onto the board in a kneeling position, just behind the center point of the board (you can quickly locate the center of the board by finding the carry handle).
  3. Keep your hands on the sides of the board to stabilize it and move one foot at a time to place your feet where your knees were.
  4. Rather than standing up in one motion, start by raising your chest up while keeping your knees bent. Once your chest is vertical, extend your legs to stand up.

Staying Balanced on a SUP
Once you’re standing, there are a handful of things you can do to maintain your balance on the board:

  • Position your feet so they are parallel, about hip-width distance apart, and centered between the edges of the board.
  • Keep your toes pointed forward, knees slightly bent and your back straight.
  • Keep your head and shoulders steady and upright, and shift your weight by moving your hips.
  • Your gaze should be level at the horizon. Avoid staring at your feet.

SUP Strokes
Here’s when the real fun begins. As a SUP beginner, there are three basics strokes that will help you get moving:

Forward Stroke
This basic stroke propels your board forward through the water.

  • Plant the paddle in the water by reaching about two feet forward, then push the blade all the way under the surface. Move the paddle back through the water to your ankle, then out of the water.
  • Keep your arms straight and twist from your torso as you paddle. Push down on the paddle grip with your top hand rather than pulling the paddle back with your lower arm. It’s helpful for some people to think of pulling the board past the paddle rather than pulling the paddle through the water.
  • To go in a reasonably straight line, you’ll need to alternate strokes on either side of the board. There’s no set number of strokes per side; try about three or four strokes on one side, then switch to the other.
  • The more vertical you keep the paddle, the straighter you will go.

Reverse Stroke
The reverse stroke is simple to perform and can be used for slowing down, stopping and turning. It is essentially the opposite of the forward stroke.

  • If you’re paddling on the right, reach back behind you and plant the paddle in the water near the tail of your board. Make sure the blade is all the way under the surface of the water.
  • Like with the forward stroke, keep your arms straight and twist from your torso rather than pulling the blade forward with your arms.
  • Doing the reverse stroke on the right side of your board will cause the nose of your board to turn to the right and vice versa.

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