Paddle Boarding Tips for Beginners

by | Feb 2, 2023 | Reviews

Paddle Boarding Tips for Beginners

New to Paddle Boarding?

Here are some of the best tips and tricks you should know about when getting into this trending sport. Before we get into the tips of actually standing up and making sure you don’t make a fool of yourself by falling in the water every paddle let’s first explain the equipment that you’ll need.

Proper Stand Up Paddle Board

Obviously the paddle board is where we start.

There are hundreds of different boards that you could choose from and a lot of different variations within each type, but to keep things simple the most common classic type you will see is epoxy and fiberglass wrapped around a foam core. The board also has several fins just like any other water board you come across. Like a wakeboard or surfboard. The fins purpose is to help you actually move through the water and not get stuck spinning in circles. You will also notice inflatable stand up paddle boards gaining a lot of traction, and for very good reason. They provide you almost everything a classic board does, but are also super portable!

If you’ve seen a paddle board before you’ve probably noticed they are much larger than a regular surfboard. That is because they are meant to be stood on facing forward and need a bigger diameter for your stance. Plus it provides additional stability.

On average they are about 10ft long about 30-32 inches wide, and 5-6 inches thick.

Tip #1 – Choose a Properly Sized Paddle Board

The first tip I wanted to throw at you is if you are fresh off the boat brand new to this, start off with a wider and longer board. This will help your stability as there is more board between you and the water. Less wobbling going on!

With the bigger board it will be a little harder to paddle and move, but if you can’t stay on the board then it won’t matter how fast you can go…

So start with the right size board for you. For help choosing the right board check out our selections for best paddle boards in 2017.

Tip #2 – Choose the Right Water for a Beginner Paddle Boarder

The next tip i’ll give you is to start out on flat water. If you’re thinking this is an obvious point, you’d be surprised at how often people don’t wait for the right water or try to start out on waves. It’s simple, but you’ll learn the fastest by being on flat water that isn’t throwing you around and messing even more with your stability.

Find the Best Paddle For You

The next item you’ll need is the paddle. This is how you get around. The paddle is very similar to a paddle you would use to row a boat, kayak, or canoe. The paddles like the actual paddle boards come with variations upon variations. You can change up the handles, the grips, the type of material that is used, the blades, the shapes of the shafts and more. 

The makeup of the paddles are generally plastic, wood, carbon fiber, and aluminum. Find out which paddle you like the most, but the most important part of it is the size.

Tip #3 – Choose the Right Paddle Length

One of the most important things to remember about the paddle is that you need to get the right length. The general rule of thumb is it’s length should always be 7-11 inches longer than the height of the person using it. If you choose the wrong paddle length, you could have a hard time maneuvering, or end up in some serious pain by the end of the day.

So if you were 6 ft tall you would want to purchase a paddle that is anywhere between 6’ 7”-6’11’.

The best paddles for paddle boarding also have a blade that is shaped with a slight curve in it to produce a bigger pull from each stroke you perform, resulting in a more efficient paddle.

Tips for Maneuvering Your Paddle Board

While choosing the right paddle board has a huge effect on your paddle boarding experience, technique is also extremely important. Here are a few tips for mastering the proper paddle boarding technique. 

Tip #4 – Use Proper Paddling Techniques

Before you get on the board in the water let’s make sure you can hold the paddle properly and get where you need to go. Your hand positioning will switch almost every paddle, but most of the time your dominant hand will be the hand in the middle of the paddle. The other hand will start out on top.

If I’m right handed then my left hand will start at the top of the paddle on the grip and my right hand will be in the middle of the shaft.

You’ll want to keep your hand in the middle about at a 90 degree as to be comfortable and be able to get as much leverage as possible.

Keep the paddle in front of you almost being able to reach the front of the board on the initial stroke. After your first stroke you’ll bring the paddle up and switch hands and perform the exact same movement with opposing hands.

Tip #5 – Learning to Stand Up on Your Paddle Board

First thing I want you to keep in mind is you’re probably going down. You’re going to fall, this water sport isn’t just a leisurely stroll as most pictures and videos promote it to be. It will take some strength and nimbleness on your end, but don’t be afraid to fall the first few times. Try to choose some warmer days if you are just starting out. It will definitely make falling into the water more enjoyable.

Once you’re on the water you’ll want to get on the board and sit on your knees. Take a few strokes to see how it feels paddling. From there you’ll get a feel for the buoyancy and water. Then you will slowly  stand up with one foot first.

Stay in the middle of the board and don’t stand up too fast. Once your first foot is stable stand up with the next. Focus on keeping your core tight as that is what will generate your balance. Be a little athletic and have a slight bend at the knees. This will allow you to be ready for any bumps or unbalanced foot work that might get you wet.

Tip # 6 – Mastering Your Paddling Stroke

The stroke is the final piece you’ll need to be able to be an official paddle boarder. Since this article is all about getting your the basics and quickest results this tip will also be driving that home. After you’ve gained your balance and feel comfortable, you’ll need to start paddling.

The first thing you’ll need to do is extend the paddle on the side of the board which has your middle positioned hand in the center of the shaft.

To make this movement as productive as possible you’ll actually bring your top hand close to your body with the paddle being extended out forward. As the top hand reaches your body you’ll then stretch your upper body forward until the bottom of the paddle reaches the water.

Once that happens you will then leverage the two hands in opposing directions. Your middle hand will be pulled toward you and at the exact same time your top hand will be slowly extending away from you.

Remember as you do this keep a slight bend at the knees so you’re allowing a flowing motion and being more agile in your strokes. This will produce faster and more productive paddling.

Other Paddle Boarding Accessories

There are a lot more accessories you could purchase like a leash or a bag, but I wanted to just show you the basics for you to get out on the water as quick as possible. 

Start with the basics to get yourself out on the water. Master the techniques and then start to upgrade as you go.

It’s time to Paddle

The information I’ve shared can help anyone who is just starting out. This water activity is actually a great way to be in the sun, get in some non invasive exercise and enjoy the water.

If you’re thinking about trying this out, which we definitely think you should, check out some of the other paddle boarding resources that we have here at The Small Boat Shop!

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