If you’ve never been on an inflatable paddle board before, the first time you get on a paddle board it can be a bit of an uncomfortable experience. If there is no competent instructor in the area, we recommend that you read our instructions first.
As with any sport, a good basic technique increases the pleasure of stand up paddle. You move forward faster, encounter headwinds more easily and see more of the surroundings!
Placement of your feet and posture
The basis of paddleboarding is a good positioning of your feet on your board and your posture. A good position and posture gives you good control over your board and allows you to anticipate changing conditions such as wind and (fence) waves. Try to find the center of your paddleboard while sitting on your knees. You’ve found this when the nose ‘floats’ a few centimetres above the water, while the back of your board is equal to the water surface.
Then place your feet about shoulder width, parallel to the board, next to each other. In this way, both your shoulders and head point directly to the nose of your SUP-board. The optimal basic posture is then found by slightly bending your knees, keeping your hips above your heels. This position ensures that your centre of gravity is relatively low, which in turn ensures a good balance.
Holding on to your paddle and paddle technique
Just like with canoeing and kayaking (check out inflatable kayaks), with paddleboarding it is the intention that you keep your elbows reasonably stretched when paddling. This ensures that the force comes mainly from your upper body (your core) instead of from your arms and shoulders. Stretched elbows force your torso to turn slightly while paddling, which puts the larger muscles in the body to work instead of the ‘smaller’ arm muscles. To paddle on the left side of your board you place your right hand on top of the ‘grip’ of your paddle, while with your left hand you hold the shaft of the paddle about 60 to 75 cm below this (depending on your own length). To paddle on the right side of your board, turn it over of course.
To paddle forward, place the blade of the paddle in the water near the nose and about 10-20 cm from the side or ‘rail’ of your board. Make sure that the entire blade of the paddle disappears under water. When the blade of your paddle has disappeared under water, push your paddle in the direction of your feet while keeping your elbows practically stretched. When your paddle blade has arrived near your heels, take your paddle out of the water and bring it back towards the tip of your board in a circular motion, after which you start the next stroke. If you move your paddle a little further away from your board into the water, it is possible to paddle right forwards, so you don’t have to change sides as often.
Just straightforward paddling is of course not the intention. Various techniques are possible to turn your board; the easiest way is to combine forward and backward paddles. Start by putting the blade of your paddle near the nose of your board in the water and move it away from you through the water so that you form a semi-circle and take your paddle out of the water at the back of the board. Then repeat this movement exactly the other way around (from back to front and on the other side of the board).
Falling and getting up again
Sometimes falling into the water is simply not preventable, for example by a passing speedboat with accompanying fence waves. If you fall, it is very important that you fall off your board, so that you do not end up half on the board itself with possible injuries as a result. If you have lost your paddle during the fall, ‘swim’ while lying on your board with your arms towards your paddle.