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Looking for some paddle boarding tips to make your adventures safer and more fun? Let’s cover some essential strategies and items you’ll want to consider before that next paddle.
When to Kneel on Your Paddle Board
There’s nothing wrong with kneeling and paddling. While it’s not a good long term paddle boarding strategy there is no shame in getting into a kneeling position to paddle once and awhile. Why would ever want to do this?
If you find yourself in rougher waves than you are comfortable with, kneeling will lower your center of gravity allowing you to stay on your board and continue paddling. Don’t let extreme waves knock you off your board. When in doubt, kneel and continue paddling. It’s that simple.
Kneeling also decreases your body’s surface area. This is a good thing to remember if you find yourself tired and paddling directly into a strong wind.
This paddle boarding tip is seldom talked about but should be. You don’t have to stand all the time.
I can remember being towards the end of a long 7 mile paddle and the weather turned against me. I was fighting an outgoing tide while going under a bridge where the wind was funneling through, directly against me of course! The only thing that got me through that phase of the journey was kneeling and paddling as if my life depended upon it. While standing and paddling, the wind was too strong, I was pretty much standing still.
Why You’ll Love a Dry Bag
Strapping a dry bag to the front of my paddle board allows me to get more creative with my trips. I’m not just limited to a water bottle. I can pack a lunch, my cell phone (good for emergencies). Heck, I’ve even packed a book.
You see, once you can be confident that you can bring stuff along on your SUP trip and it won’t get wet, that opens you up for longer more creative trips. Most dry bags are made of a rubber/plastic type of material and have to be rolled up a few times to prevent water from getting in.
When Kurt and I first started paddle boarding we only had my board. It didn’t take long for me to be sharing the board with him and any other guest we had in our company. Having an adjustable paddle was great for taking turns.
There is a major height difference between us so having the adjustable paddle allowed us both to paddle comfortably.
Even if it’s just you an adjustable paddle makes much sense, which is doubtful because one somebody sees you having fun on your SUP they want to try to.
When you are new to the sport, you will be unsure the precise length of paddle you require. You can consult a guide but the truth is, everyone has their own grip, stance and stroke. You’ll know what feels right after dozens of hours out on the water.
An adjustable paddle allows you to very easily, and inexpensively try different length paddles!
Don’t Forget Your Leash & PFD
No paddle boarding tips would be complete without mentioning YOUR safety….
You should always have a leash/cord on along with a coast guard approved PFD (personal flotation device). It’s rather obvious how a life jacket could save your life so I won’t belabor the point.
The leash keeps your board with you. This is super important because if the wind kicks up and you get separated from your board you can be in trouble. In fact, without you on the paddle board that thing can pick up a lot of speed when facing down wind.
There goes your paddle board.
Wear a leash!
Deep Water Practice
New to paddle boarding? You ought to practice before your venture far from safety. The best way to do this is to get into deep water but as close to safety as possible.
I’m recommending deep water that is at least over your head. 6 feet deep will do! The reason it’s important to practice your paddle boarding skills in deeper water is:
- You need to be able to get onto your board and into a standing position while swimming
- If you fall you won’t hit rocks, or whatever else is lurking underneath shallow water.
Trust me, uless you’re a teenagle,even falling on a sandy bottom hurts.
Stay near the shoreline, but far enough out so that if you do fall you land safely into water.
Paddle boarding should be fun not painful, right?
When talking to an old timer about canoes and kayaks he liked to say, “Get a decent kayak, but get the best, lightest paddle you can afford!” I think this is good advice and here’s why…
You only carry your paddle board to the shoreline once, but you have to hold and use your paddle all day long. A few ounces really does start to feel heavy after a while.
Buy a good enough paddle board if that’s all you can afford. But, buy the lightest, most comfortable paddle you can afford. This more than likely means you’ll be looking at some graphite or partial graphite paddles. They are super light and a joy to use.
Kurt has a 100% full graphite paddle. His paddle is so light it’s like holding a feather. But it also costs almost $400 for that paddle and is not adjustable. As you can see he keeps his prized paddle safely stored in a paddle case!
I’m sporting an adjustable partially graphite paddle. It’s a plastic / graphite hybrid. It has a graphite shaft and a plastic head. It’s a really cute paddle head by the way. I love it. My paddle is light enough for me… that graphite shaft really makes a difference.
Watch the Weather
Always keep an eye on the weather before you launch your paddle board. Getting caught in an electrical storm is serious business. Even if you are just tooling around on a small lake, weather can get ugly quick!
Always check the hourly weather forecast for the location you are paddling at. If you are traveling to a destination, make sure you check the weather for that particular location, not your home. Where we live in New England I’m always shocked at how different the weather can be inland vs. shoreline during our hot, humid summers.
Always, always, ALWAYS check the weather!
If you ever played sports in high school you probably remember your coach yelling at you to get into the “ready position”.
“Shoulders back, knees slightly bent Zoe!” Ok coach, I got it!
Seriously though, this is a human body’s strongest and most responsive stance. You have the best balance and strength with a posture like this.
Over the course of many paddling hours you can develop some serious back and neck paint. Practicing a good posture will ward off these pains which could turn into injuries.
- Make sure you are not reaching too far with your paddle
- Maintain slightly bent knees
- Keep your shoulders back and your head up
If you are used to slouching, this will be a quite an adjustment and an even bigger workout. But it’s worth it.
Practice a strong, but balanced posture while paddle boarding!
Experiment with your stance and positioning on the board. I prefer my feet to be approximately shoulder’s width apart. I also prefer standing slightly behind the center carry handly on the deck of the paddle board. My toes are usually inline with the center of the board, not my heels.