How to Stand Up Paddle Board: Beginner's Guide and Tips

How to Stand Up Paddle Board: Beginner's Guide and Tips

So you've decided to dip your toes into the wonderful world of paddle boarding. Bravo! Do you know where to start? Our ultimate guide will cover how to stand up paddle board for beginners is here to make your first steps, or in this case, strokes, as smooth as possible.

How to Choose Your First Paddle Board

Picking out your very first paddle board is like finding a soulmate—it'll be there with you through ups and downs, or in this case, falls and flips. Size, weight, stability, materials, and a few more factors matter. We'll unravel some stand up paddle board tips and tricks on how to your perfect board match, so you'll be ready to ride some waves.

Size & Weight

It's like picking the perfect pair of shoes—you want something that fits you just right in terms of size and weight. The thicker the board is, the more capable it is of handling more weight. Some boards can even hold multiple riders and/or pets, fishing gear, camping gear, and such. But in return, they might be a little too heavy to carry around.

Size & Weight

The key is to aim for a board that's not too heavy to carry but still has enough size and stability to fit your needs. Since you're new to learning how to paddle board, it's better to focus more on stability to keep you from taking an unplanned dip.


As a beginner, you want a board that forgives a wobble or two. Look for something wide and sturdy—it'll be your best buddy in those early days. If you can't tell by the look and the specs, most websites have either "stability" or "speed" listed. "Speed" boards tend to be slim and pointy, more appropriate for experienced paddlers.


The next decision on your plate is material. Solid or inflatable? Solid boards offer superb performance and longevity. Inflatable paddle boards, on the other hand, are portable and easy to store. Weigh up your needs and decide which suits you best for your how to paddle board journey.


You're not splashing out on the latest Gucci handbag here. Choose a board that won't break the bank but still offers quality. We're making a lifetime investment.


Industry-leading brands are the go-to choice for many reasons, but the main reason is that they've got the experience and the reviews to back up their products. Stick with the tried-and-true brands, and you can't go wrong on your way to learning how to paddle board.


Things to Prepare Before SUPing

To help you navigate your inaugural paddle boarding excursion with confidence, we've compiled a comprehensive list of first time paddle boarding tips and essential gear.

Stand up paddle board

Stand up paddle board is the foundation of your SUP experience before taking any lessons regarding how to stand on a paddle board. As a beginner, start by renting or borrowing a board to get a feel for the sport. Once hooked, consider investing in your board, tailored to your weight, skill level, and intended use. Different boards excel at various disciplines, such as recreational paddling, surfing, touring, racing, and SUP yoga. Don't worry; SUP store staff can guide you in choosing the right board for your needs.


A SUP paddle is an essential piece of equipment for anyone who is seeking methods on how to paddle a stand-up paddle board. It is designed with a teardrop-shaped blade angled forward for efficient paddling. If you get the right paddleboarding tips, the correct paddle length should reach your wrist when you stand the paddle in front of you with your arm raised above your head. Therefore, proper paddle sizing and handling can significantly improve your paddling experience.

PFD (Personal Flotation Device)

The U.S. Coast Guard classifies stand up paddle boards as vessels, so if you're learning how to paddle board outside a designated surf or swimming area, you must have a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) on board. While adults don't necessarily have to wear the PFD, children must adhere to age requirements set by your state's regulations. Choosing the proper PFD for your needs is crucial for safety.

Safety whistle and light

In addition to a PFD, the Coast Guard requires a safety whistle to warn other boaters of your presence. If you plan on being out practicing how to paddle board sessions after sunset, ensure you have a light on board for visibility.

Proper clothing

During warm summers, most paddlers opt for swimsuits, board shorts, and short—or long-sleeved rash guards for sun protection. A wetsuit or dry suit is recommended for more excellent conditions where hypothermia is a concern.


A leash tethers your SUP to you, ensuring it remains close by if you fall off. As a large flotation device, attaching to your board can be crucial for safety. Paddle board leashes are explicitly designed for surf, flatwater, and rivers, so choose the appropriate one for your intended use.

Sun protection

Prolonged exposure to the sun's rays can be harsh, so don't forget to wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing while paddle boarding.

Sun protection

The ABCs of Paddle Boarding

Congratulations, you've picked your perfect board! Now it's time to guide you how to paddle board and grip your SUP correctly with our 6 essential tips for effortless paddling.

Practice on Land

To start paddle boarding, it's best to begin on solid ground. Practice moving from your knees to your feet while holding the paddle. Once you can smoothly transition, give it a try on the water. It's important to feel confident with the technique before braving the wobbly water surface.

Begin Kneeling

Getting the hang of paddle boarding is smoother when you maintain a low center of gravity. As you venture onto the water, staying on your knees for a while can help. Experiment with one or two different paddle strokes to understand how the board moves and maneuvers. This way, you'll quickly become familiar with the board's feel and improve your paddling skills.

Begin Kneeling

Standing Up

The first rule of paddle board school? You gotta stand up. Sounds simple, right? It is! But it helps to know a few tips.

Start on your knees, then slowly rise to your feet one at a time, keeping your knees slightly bent. Try to stay in the middle of the board, and you're perfectly balanced.

Paddling Strokes and Turns

Alright, you're standing, but unless you want to just float aimlessly, you'll need to learn some basic paddling strokes.

First, here’s how to hold paddle board paddle the right way:

  • Positioning: Grip the top of the paddle with one hand and the shaft with the other. The blade should be angled away from you.
  • Motion-Control: When you paddle, your top hand should be driving downwards while your lower arm pulls the paddle towards you. Imagine it as a well-choreographed dance between your two hands.
  • Switching Sides: Just let go of the top grip, slide your bottom hand up, put it down the other side, and grab the top with the other hand. Voilà, you've just switched sides.

Next, use these strokes to navigate around:

Paddling Strokes and Turns
  • The Forward Stroke: Your bread and butter to move straight ahead. With your paddle angled forward, plunge it into the water by your toes and pull it towards your ankle. For straighter lines, keep your strokes as close to the board as possible.
  • The Backward Stroke: Also known as the moonwalk in paddle boarding. For this one, you do the exact opposite of the forward stroke: start at your ankles and push forward. It's not for show–use this when you're practicing your U-turns.
  • The Sweep Stroke: To steer clear of pesky rocks or greet fellow paddle boarders. To turn left, put your paddle on the right side and draw a big semi-circle from nose to tail. To go right? Draw the same thing on your left side.

And don't worry if you don't get these strokes right away. You're not trying to win any medal. Just take time, have fun, and you'll be swishing and swooshing around like a pro pretty soon.

Gaze Forward, Not at Your Feet

If you're learning how to stand up paddle board, you'll need to learn how to balance while using a paddle to move forward. In fact, many beginners tend to look down at their feet while paddling, which is natural when you're trying to manage multiple tasks at once. However, focusing on the water and horizon ahead of you will help you maintain better balance and stability.

Keep Balance

When you feel unstable while kayaking, you can use the face of the paddle blade on the water to help regain your balance. This technique is called "bracing". There are a few simple braces that you can practice until they become instinctive and help you stabilize yourself efficiently.

Keep Balance

Keep Practicing To Become Expert

Spend as much time as you can on a paddleboard, getting out onto the water regularly. Before you know these helpful stand up paddle boarding tips, you'll feel confident and ready to appreciate the beauty of the water and your surroundings. Additionally, vary your practice by trying out different boards. Experiment with both inflatable and solid boards to experience the contrast. Explore different types such as touring boards, all-around boards, and even those designed for yoga. This diversity will enhance your skills and broaden your paddle boarding experience.

How to Fall and Flip With Grace

When you’re learning how to paddle board, prepare to fall, but don't worry; here’s how to fall and flip confidently:

  • Embrace the Splash: When embarking on your SUP journey, expect to take a tumble. Anticipating this allows you to stay relaxed and go with the flow.
  • Safety First: Practice falling away from the board, especially if you're on a rigid paddle board. Cushioned landings are essential, even with inflatable boards. Falling clear of your board minimizes the risk of injury.
  • Hold on Tight: Don't let go of your paddle when you fall! While it may float, it could drift quite a distance away. Clinging onto it ensures you won't be left stranded without a paddle.

Handling Waves and Wind

Mother Nature has a sense of humor. Some days she'll gift you calm waters and a gentle breeze. Other days, well, she might decide to shake things up a little. When she does, stay calm, and apply these tricks:

  • Lean and Brace: If a strong wave is coming straight at you, bend your knees to lower your center of gravity and lean into it. This is called bracing, and you'll likely survive choppy waves with this technique.
  • Angle It: If you're caught broadside instead, angle your board so it points straight into the wave. This reduces the risk of being tipped over.
  • Paddle Strong: When dealing with wind, keep your strokes short and efficient, and use your core for power.
  • Read the Wind Direction: If you're paddling into the wind, you may want to kneel or even lay down on your board to reduce wind resistance.

If things are out of hand, try to stick close to the shoreline or behind a headland where it can be less gusty.

Handling Waves and Wind

Safety Rules

Always wear a leash to keep your board close and a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) to stay afloat. Also, check the weather forecast and let someone know where you're heading and when you expect to be back.


Last but not least, respect other water users and the environment. Wildlife also can be easily startled if approached, so admire them from a distance.

Tips Before You Hit The Water!

Planning your first paddle boarding outing? Here are some simple tips for paddle boarding to consider:

  • Opt for a calm, small water body like a lake or pond with minimal obstacles like boats and buoys.
  • Find a sandy beach or an area where you can quickly enter the water to start your SUP adventure.
  • Choose a sunny day with minimal wind for an enjoyable experience.
  • If you must paddle into the wind, do it initially. This way, the wind can help you when you might feel tired on your return.
  • Go paddle boarding with a friend for safety and fun.
  • Aim for about an hour of paddling on your first try.
Tips Before You Hit The Water!

Shop Your Beginner Board at iROCKER

Paddle boarding for beginners can be intimidating, but with the right board and the techniques for how to paddle board, you’ll ride effortlessly in no time. Ready to buy a board? iROCKER has all the lines (and accessories!) to fit all your needs. Grab one, head to your favorite waterway, and begin your paddling journey.

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