How to Stand Up Paddle Board A Beginners Guide

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How to Use a Stand Up Paddle Board

How do you use a stand up paddle board? You just jump on and paddle off majestically into the distance right!? Well.. No.. There are a few things you have to do before you ride off into the most majestic of sunsets. Luckily we have summarised them for you in here.

Paddle Boarding is easily one of my favorite things to do during the summer. It is an excellent activity that you can include your friends, family and even combine with fishing. Being a somewhat competitive person I actually recommend trying paddle boarding for the first time with your friends. This promotes a safe environment and also puts added pressure on you not to be the first one to fall off!

In all seriousness though once you read this guide on how to use a stand up paddle board,  you will be the one leading the group and becoming the teacher. Should you get advanced enough you can even start Paddle Boarding with your Dog!

Below we go through tips and tricks and breifly talk about whats a good stand up paddle board for beginners

What you will Need to Wear

A PFD or (or personal flotation device) comes in a variety of different forms for Paddle Boarders. The most common PFDs are Belt PFD’s and Vest PFD’s. Both of these are more ideal than your typical bulkly life vests because they do not get in the way of your paddling motion . 

Unless you consider yourself a nudest this is pretty self explanatory.  If conditions are colder you will need a wet suit or a dry suit for winter like conditions

Be sure to get something that covers your whole head and not just part of it if you are paddling the entire day.

Ideal to get polarised sunglasses with a strap at the back. in case they fall off of your face.

SPF 30 is usually acceptable, go higher or lower depending on your preference and skin tan. 

What you will Need to Start

It can be Inflatable or fiberglass hard board. See the differences below  

Sometimes a paddle will come with the board! Many times though, they are not of great quality and not all of them float. such as this Paddle


A whistle is great to have if you are going in deeper water and are further away from shore. In fact in many places you have to have a whistle with you to go out paddling.


This is especially important if you are in the surf zone and you fall off your board. The board leash straps around your ankle and insures that your board will not stray too far away from you. This ankle leash is of good quality 

Renting vs Owning a Stand Up Paddle Board

There is no right or wrong in this answer it just mostly depends how often you are going to paddle and where you live. Starting off I went to a local rental shop close to where I live. Their price is around $20 an hour although their definition of an hour was pretty loose, especially getting close to dinner time. This allowed me to judge how I liked the sport and if I would do it again. You can probably guess that I did as I am currently writing this article about this subject!

how to use a stand up paddle board

I rented a paddle board from this shop almost every weekend which made me consider actually buying one. If you do the math $20 X 15 weekends is $300 spent on renting a board. I do not mean to knock rental shops by any means as they are a great way to try and learn the sport for cheap. It’s just that if you do decide to make it a weekly endevour you are better off buying.  At that price, you are about halfway to buying a pretty good quality inflatable paddle board that can easily last you over five years.  

I ended up buying my own paddle board after about a year of renting and I’m glad I did so. I’m not just limited to that one area but now I can paddle all over Vancouver and just about anywhere with a body of water.

I ended up buying a new inflatable paddle board from Craigslist and while I am happy with the board quality and performance I kind of wish I bought a more respectable brand. This is because many of them come with manufacturer warranties and the fact that their accessories are usually decent quality. Unfortunately for me my paddle locks into place and I cannot loosen it by hand while on the water. As a result I am usually left kneeling on the board when paddling. I’ll go into types of paddle board to buy below.

In the mean take a look at some of the inflatable paddle boards that I recommend for beginners.

Where to Stand Up Paddle Board

If you are a beginner like I once was I would recommend a calm lake or bay. I live next to the ocean and as we know, the seas are a particularly uncertain mistress. I would always have to check the tides and water conditions before heading out.

I remember the third time we went out paddle boarding it was particularly difficult paddling in windy conditions as there were a lot of waves and we could only kneel while we paddled. It was also pretty difficult to make any headway against the waves, but hey at least we got a learning experience and more cardio than we bargained for!

Ideally You want to start out launching off sand, grass or off of a dock.  When launching you want to place the paddle board in front of you and climb onto it. Watch the video below on exactly how to do this as they are great at explaining the process.

How to Get up on a Stand Up Paddle Board

The first thing you want to do is make sure you have a steady platform in which to stand. I bought an inflatable touring board as my first paddle board. The result it is a lot less steady and my learning curve is much steeper. So make sure to start off on a wider board such as a recreational type of paddle board that has a U shaped nose and is at least 30” Wide. This type of paddle board shape is called a Planing Hull.  

Your at the beach, you got your board and your ready to go paddle boarding! The only problem is how do you get on and stay on? Follow the steps or video above and you will become a pro in no time! The 10 Tips from Surfer Today also explain the process well

how to use a stand up paddle board
courtesy of
  1. First Wade in knee deep water with your board facing in front of you. Make sure that the water is deep enough so that the tracking fin does not scrape the bottom
  2. Place your paddle perpendicular onto the board for balance. You will then place your right knee a few inches to the right of the board, make sure you are holding the board steady when doing this. Next you will place your left knee onto the other side of the board handle and stabilize.
  3. Assuming this is your first time you will want to paddle along on your knees for a while. This is to get used to how the board handles while on the water.
how to use a stand up paddle board
Courtesy of PaddleTV
  1. To stand up (assuming you are in the kneeling position) simply place the paddle onto your board in front of you with your hands over it. Place your toes onto the board, then place one knee in front of you in front of you chest and let the other one follow. You will then be in a squat position so you simply straighten your back and rise up so that you are standing.
  2. Once you are up it is recommended that you place your paddle into the water quickly so that you get extra balance. This also gives you instant momentum moving forward and there for stabilising the board in the process.
  3. Once up you want to insure that you are on the “sweet spot” of the board. This sweet spot is where the board is perfectly balanced.  That is the front is not too much in the water and neither is the back. If you are not within the “Sweet Spot” place the blade of your paddle onto the board for stability and simply move up or down.

Just because you are on a stand up paddle board doesn’t mean you actually have to “stand up” on it. I find that you actually get better strokes from your paddle by kneeling as opposed to standing up. Still it is a good idea to at least attempt to stand at some point or another as it will work more more muscles and become a more compounded exercise.

How to Fall off a Stand Up Paddle Board (And Get back on)

At some point you may fall off of a stand up paddle board and that’s ok! When you get to the point of no return (when you are unbalanced and falling) simply fall feet first into the water avoiding landing on any part of the board. This will keep you from seriously injuring yourself. I also recommend that you have an ankle leash and PFD on so that you are not stuck stranded in the water. I especially reccomend this for people who are into SUP Yoga .

When in the water there is a good chance your paddle has gone overboard as well. First swim towards your board, get on and then retrieve your paddle. It is best to get onto the board first as you can always paddle your board but can’t paddle your paddle without a board! It is also a good idea to spend some money on a decent quality paddle that actually floats. I almost lost mine in lake Shuswap last summer!

To get back onto your paddle board go at it from the side, use the carry handle as leverage to haul yourself back up onto the board like how a seal would haul onto the rocks. If your paddle has gone overboard simply retrieve it.  The below video will show you how to do these steps properly.

How to Clean a Stand Up Paddle Board

If you own your own board there one step you have to do before packing it in. One of the most important things you can do for your board is to clean it by rinsing it in water. This will allow your board to last longer without having it’s material getting deteriorated. This is especiallys true when you paddle in salt water. One of the reasons I like boat launches is because they ususally have a hose that you can use to rinse your board. 

If you plan on spending the day out at the beach or lake it’s best to keep you board away from the sun. Too much exposure to the sun often ruins both inflatable and fiberglass boards alike deteriorating their structure and composition. Especially hard boards with EPS foam on the inside.

Inflatable Paddle Board vs Hard Board

You can see more details about the differences between an inflatable paddle board vs a hard board here.  In the meantime here is a round up on which you should choose for the the following reasons.

how to use a stand up paddle board

Inflatable Paddle Boards are great for

  • Portability
  • Storage
  • Durability
  • Beginners
  • Safety

Fiberglass Hard Boards are great for

  • On Water Performance
  • More Challenging Conditions
  • Being More Rigid
  • Having a Smoother Ride
  • Paddling at a greater speed

I chose a touring Inflatable paddle board model and I’m actually pretty happy with it’s speed and tracking. It is however, not as stable as the hard boards I have rented in the past. This is not a knock on all inflatable paddle boards mind you,  touring boards tend to be more narrow because they are built for speed. Starting out I would say that it is safer to be on an inflatable paddle board because if you fall chances are it will not cause as big of an impact as falling on a fiberglass paddle board.

A good quality inflatable paddle board is also less expensive as opposed to a good quality hard board. Good quality inflatable paddle boards will run you anywhere from $450- $800. Fiberglass (or Epoxy) paddle boards are in the $600 – $1500 range.

How to Transport a Stand Up Paddle Board

how to use a stand up paddle board

For people that do not have a lot of room to spare (such as me) an inflatable paddle board is your best bet for a couple of reasons. It’s easier to store and they’re easier to transport. When rolled up Inflatable boards are about the size of a hockey bag and often can be carried by backpack. As a result you can store them in a closet when you are done or simply place it in the trunk or back seat of your car. When the inflatable board is ready for your use you simply have to unroll it, inflate it and your set! The process usually takes 5- 10 minutes depending on the paddle board and the pump you are using.

If you do have the space and plan to get serious about stand up paddle boarding then a hard fibreglass board is a good option. For storage usually a garage or anywhere away from the sun is a good place to store it for the winter. For transportation you can simply tie it to the top of your car/ truck roof or in the bed of your truck if it is long enough.

Final Thoughts

Getting on a paddle board for the first time is not exactly the hardest thing to do in the world but it is also not the easiest. If you follow these above steps and watch the videos closely you will be well prepared for your maiden paddling journey and hopefully you pick up a new hobby or obsession that you enjoy doing during the spring and summer months.  

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