Paddle Boarding for Beginners: An All-in-one Guide
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 to paddle boarding 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 the secrets 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.
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, 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 boards, on the other hand, are portable and easy to store. Weigh up your needs and decide which suits you best.
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.
The ABCs of Paddle Boarding
Congratulations, you've picked your perfect board! Now it's time to get you standing upright and paddling like a pro.
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:
- 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.
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How to Fall and Flip With Grace
Despite all your best efforts, you'll fall off at a certain point, and that's fine. It's just a part of the game. Just fall safely (always fall flat, never dive) and get back on your board with grace.
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.
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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.
Shop Your Beginner Board at iROCKER
Paddle boarding for beginners can be intimidating, but with the right board and techniques 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.