What SUP With You? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Are you a water baby? Do you feel most at home when you are in, on, under, or near a body of water? Do you love to get your heart pumping and feel adrenaline coursing through your veins? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to give standup paddle boarding a try! Whether you’ve never heard of this enjoyable outdoor activity, or you have seen people doing it and felt intrigued, read on for answers to all your questions.

What Exactly Is Stand Up Paddleboarding?

Sometimes referred to as SUP, stand up paddle boarding is a water sport that requires — and develops — balance, stability, core strength, and general fitness. It’s similar to surfing, with a few notable exceptions. For one, you’re not riding the waves, but instead propelling yourself over calm water. And unlike surfing, in which you use your arms to paddle and then stand up on the board, SUP involves the use of a long paddle and standing up right from the get-go.

What Are the Board and the Paddle Like?

There’s a wide variety of stand up paddle boards, but beginners to the sport should look for an all-around paddle board that is at least 10 feet long and 30 inches wide. The longer and wider a board, the more stability it offers, especially in choppy water. This will allow you to become accustomed to standing and balancing on the board and maneuvering the paddle so that it doesn’t bump into the board. 

Once you have acquired the basic skill set, you can look for a stand up paddle board for sale that is shorter and narrower. Specialty boards for paddle board yoga, paddle board fishing, and paddle board racing have different shapes to accommodate the needs of the athlete in those pursuits. Or cover all of your bases by opting for an adjustable board so its length can be customized as you develop expertise.

If you are new to paddle boarding, you would do well to choose a soft-top foam board to start with. Paddleboards, like surfboards, are traditionally made from fiberglass and epoxy, and can be a bit too fragile for novices. Inflatable versions that can be deflated and rolled up when not in use are also a popular option for casual paddle boarders, travelers, or anyone who doesn’t have a lot of storage space at their disposal. 

What Else Will I Need?

In addition to the board and the paddle, you will want to have a leash that connects the two, or a floatie to attach to the paddle. This will prevent it from sinking or being swept away if you should drop it into the water. Most experts recommend having a board leash that attaches to your person, as well. If you’ve capsized in high winds, they can carry a board away from you much faster than you might imagine. A personal floatation device is also a good idea. 

When suiting up for paddle boarding, it’s important to dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. This means that a wetsuit is necessary when the water is below 60° F. If you’re SUPing in a warmer body of water, a swimsuit or board shorts and a t-shirt will suffice.

Additional accessories include water shoes or neoprene booties, paddle gloves, a sun hat, sunglasses, a rescue whistle, and a headlamp if you will be out on the water after dark. Don’t forget the sunscreen and plenty of water to drink, as well!

Is It Hard to Learn How to Paddle?

There is a learning curve associated with paddle boarding, to be sure. Because you’re balancing on a relatively narrow board, every movement you make, no matter how minor, has the potential to upset that balance. A couple of general tips will help you find your footing, both literally and metaphorically, when you’re just starting out:

  • Lower your center of gravity by crouching or squatting rather than standing tall.
  • When paddling in shallower water, do so on your knees.
  • Give other paddlers a wide berth so that everyone has plenty of room.
  • Practice falling safely. Try to jump away from the board. When you surface from the water, hold your arms above your head to protect it in the event that the board has drifted over you.
  • Never paddle in stormy conditions, when there are strong offshore winds, or where there is a current. Newbies should only paddle in calm conditions, but as you gain experience, you’ll learn how to handle waves.
  • Choose a board that can accommodate your weight. 
  • Do not take your board further out into open water than you can confidently swim back.

Savvy would-be paddle boarders sign up for lessons, or at the very least enlist the help of an experienced friend to help them learn the ropes.

Final Thoughts

Stand up paddle boarding is a fun hobby to cultivate, and it will do wonders for your core strength and balance. Another one of its benefits is the beauty of nature. What could be better that going out on the water, soaking up some sun, and enjoying the scenery and wildlife you encounter? Just remember to choose a board wisely and read up on SUP safety before heading out!

Have you ever tried stand up paddle boarding? Do you have any tips to share with readers who are just getting started? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Sanath Pollemore

An Avid Music Lover, Sanath Mostly Busy in Listening Music and Upgrade His Collection.

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