No one likes looking clueless on the water, but we’ve all been there. There’s a learning curve with any new activity, especially one that involves balance, coordination and faith in Mother Nature. Paddle boarding is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, so we promise you’re not the only one out there faking it ’til you make it. To help you look like you know what you’re doing until you actually know what you’re doing, we’ve outlined what NOT to do as a beginner. You’re welcome.
- Using the Wrong Equipment
You don’t want to set yourself up for failure before you even step foot in the water. It’s important to find a board, like an iRocker, that’s suitable for your skill level. Unless you’re a freak athlete, balancing on the board will be a bit difficult at first. Find a board that’s sturdy, firm and stable. It’s common for beginners to start off on a board that’s too thin, too short or isn’t sturdy enough to hold their weight. Also, the length of the paddle needs to be adjusted to match your height. Using a paddle that’s too long or too short will make the sport difficult, and can cause injuries or aching muscles.
|Paddler Height||Paddle Length (includes handle and blade)|
- Going at it Alone
We don’t want you to be a horror story on the local news. Getting lost, drowning or injured will ruin a perfect day on the water, without a doubt. All of these tragedies can be easily prevented with the buddy system. Even better, bring a friend who has experience on the water and on a paddle board. If you must go alone, always tell someone where you’ll be and promise to check in at a certain time.
- Heading out in Rough Conditions
Going out on your inflatable stand up paddle board in bad weather is the worst thing you could do. Treacherous conditions like currents,wind and waves are extremely harmful for rookies. As a beginner, it’s understandable to not know about the many risks. There are tons of phone apps to download that’ll keep you up-to-date on conditions, or talk to a life guard if you’re not tech-savvy. We aren’t judging. It’s important to not overestimate your skill level and limits, so ease into it all.
Tip: If you’re ever caught in rough winds or unfavorable conditions, lie flat on your board with your paddle tucked under you. Paddle back to shore as if you’re on a regular surfboard to escape the weather, which is called “paddling prone.”
- Holding the Paddle Incorrectly
We’ve all done it. Holding the paddle wrong is the most typical mistake made by beginners. A surefire sign a person’s new to inflatable stand up paddle boarding is if their paddle blade is at an angle facing toward them. If you wanna do it like the pros, the blade should slope at an angle away from you. This way, you’ll get a smoother stroke and much less stress on your elbows and shoulders. Win, win.
- Paddle in Crowded Waters
Flailing in the water because you don’t know how to balance yet isn’t fun, especially if there are lots of people around. Learning how to handle yourself and the equipment is a learning process, and I’m sure random strangers don’t want to be the target of a swinging paddle. Besides, crowded waters aren’t fun anyway. The fun of inflatable stand up paddle boarding comes from exploring and relaxing, both of which aren’t possible in busy areas. There’s no fun in worrying about running into others the whole time you’re in the water!
- Falling Off the Board Wrong
Even the experts fall off, so don’t feel insulted by this one. Just like you practice balance and using your paddle, do a few test runs of falling off your board. The difference between falling correctly and incorrectly is the injury you’ll end up with. No bueno. Paddle boards are big and hurt like crazy when they hit you. When you fall, fall away from the board. You have a leash, so don’t panic.
Now you know what NOT to do. Congratulations, you’re ready to hit the water worry-free. Enjoy the sunshine and put your iRocker to good use. Happy paddling!