Is there just one thing that is the hardest thing to learn about stand up paddle boarding? Or is there a few?
It’s always a little daunting learning a new skill but doing a little research before you start can help ease those nerves and get you a little more prepared! Reading articles like this is a great way to prepare yourself for your first paddle boarding adventures. You’ll feel more confident and in turn have more fun on the water knowing what to expect.
Depending on what kind of paddling you are doing there may be different aspects that are harder in comparison to other contexts. For example, what may be the hardest thing to learn in calm flat water conditions like lakes will be different to open ocean paddling!
Here’s our list of what we feel are valuable things to learn for your SUP adventures!
1. Get familiar with understanding the elements
Even if you are a pro paddle boarder if you try go for a paddle on a low tide and hit sandbank after sandbank, you won’t be having much fun! Depending on the area you want to paddle in becoming familiar with how tides or other elements like wind affect the area will ensure you have the best paddle you can.
If you are paddling near a river mouth, you want to be aware of currents with the rising and lowering of tides, these can be very strong! Same if it’s a tidal area, going on the low tide won’t be as nice and you may become beached. If you are away from anything like that, then knowing about the wind and the directions it hits and where you can find protection can also save you from fighting an up wind battle.
You can gather reports and forecasts on wind and tides from several websites but we recommend www.willyweather.com as a great resource.
Aside from the variable elements, before you go for your first paddle, scope where is easiest to get in and out, if there are noticeable spots you want to avoid eg boat ramps, fallen trees in the water etc.
2. Learning to balance and move with the water
The biggest challenge beginners face no matter where they are paddling is balance. Balance has a huge amount to do with feeling confident and comfortable, which is why we recommend becoming familiar with your environment first.
Outside of that, any kind of exercise you can do at home to improve balance will always help you out on the water too!
Like any sailor will also tell you, the key to being on the water is becoming comfortable to move with the water. The more you fight the wobbles, the more you will fall! Even if you have to fall in a few times to find the flow, being able to ebb and flow with the movement of water will have you seemingly walking on water in no time!
3. Establishing good paddle performance
This one takes time! Anyone can learn how to paddle efficiently enough to get around in a matter of hours but it can take a little while to master a stroke. Practice makes perfect!
Once you have an efficient paddle stroke down you can play with some tricky turns and start looking at doing some adventurous paddling too. One of the best ways is to get a lesson, if you can, go out a few times yourself and get comfortable with being on the board and then get an intermediate lesson to polish up your technique. You’ll get the most value this way!