A Guide to Improving your SUP Skills

Stand Up Paddle Boarding is one of the most versatile watersports out there. Whether you prefer the thrilling adventure of SUP surfing, or the tranquillity of touring flatwater and even practising a bit of yoga, SUP truly is for everyone. And once you start, there's no stopping. Our devoted in-house SUP boarder, Meg, brings her board to the beach at every opportunity - be it fighting for space in the line-up in the crowded heatwaves of summer, or through the cold, gloomy days of winter. Thus, we've summoned her to help you improve your SUP skills. 

Meg's Top Tips

Don’t be afraid to fall in!

If you’re not falling in, you’re not trying hard enough. It’s as simple as that. The more comfortable you are with falling in, the less likely you are to stress yourself out thinking about it. Being relaxed and focused when on the water is one of the quickest and most simple ways to improve your SUP performance. Keep safe, especially if around other suppers or surfers (or SUP surfers!), but don’t be afraid to take a little dip in the water here and there. One must fall off a horse 21 times to become a jockey. And I think I’d rather take the softer landing of water, thanks.

Keep balanced

Make sure your feet are always hip-width apart and that you’re positioned comfortably on the board. Keep those knees with a slight bend in them - locking them straight will send you flying if the swell catches you out! Bending your knees is your suspension. My top tip is to always look where you’re going - keep that head up! Avoid looking down at your board as it tends to make you wobble and throw you off balance.

It’s all in the paddle

Paddle length is key! Stand your paddle up next to you out of the water and make sure it’s around hand height taller than you. It’s also good to check your adjustable paddle is nice and secure on the clasps, as if they are loose it can affect your performance.

Master your technique

Always start by entering the paddle as close to the front as you can reach, don’t be afraid to bend forward and put your weight into it! Then, using your weight, pull the paddle back, still keeping it close to the board. Do this in as straight of a line as you can to avoid swapping sides constantly in an attempt to keep the board straight. Keeping the paddle close to the board also maximise the number of strokes you can get in – a longer and narrower SUP board (like the Red Paddle Co Elite range) will also help this if you’re a serious long length straight-aiming supper!

Pump that board up properly

If you own an inflatable SUP board, always make sure you’ve pumped it up to the correct pressure. This is a must on all accounts. Don’t be lazy - a slightly uninflated board will not help you improve, trust me!

Check your leash

Always check if your leash is dragging in the water. This can collect some hefty seaweed (hopefully no plastic) if you’re not careful!

For SUP surfers…

Make sure you know all those surfer rules because they apply even more to a big old SUP board - you really don’t want to get in the way! You need to know that not all conditions suit a supper the same way they do a surfer, even more so depending on your type of SUP board – so check the weather and swell forecast before going out. It would be clever not to go out in mad waves with unpredicted break points. It’s good to look out for flat patches to make your way out, just make sure to keep those knees bent more than ever! Also, be aware of your surroundings and look where you are going. Your stance should imitate that of a surfer’s on the waves, rather than the still, steady-hip distance you’ll be standing in on your flat-water SUP. But most of all, just enjoy yourself! It’s a great way to get your balancing skills on track and perfect for small wave days. A top tip is to invest into buying a paddle leash because it can be pretty easy to lose your paddle if you get a wild knock out!


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Updated on 16th April 2019

Originally published on 28th February 2019 in SUP

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