Paddle Board Lessons

Paddle Board Lessons

Learn to SUP

One of the reasons I started Paddles By The Sea was because I really enjoy teaching SUP, or stand up paddle boarding. I usually call it paddle boarding, but whatever you want to call it, I like teaching it. I also wanted to create a paddle experience so good that it becomes your new favorite thing. So, I made this lesson for the people who work with me, that way I know they know how I want it taught. This is actually the lesson you get included with a paddle board rental! I know, its crazy to give this much instruction out for free, but I really want you to be a good paddler. I think the best way to achieve that is making sure you know how to be the best paddle boarder you can be. Hope you enjoy it.

Learn to SUP (or stand up paddle board)

Learn to SUP (or stand up paddle board)

I. Meet the board

• Today we will be using a plaining type SUP (stand up paddle board), similar to a long board surf board. Except, there are a few big differences;

• There is a large comfy pad on top; these are designed to be comfortable for long periods of standing. Surf boards use wax

• We have bungees with lifejackets on the nose, also a great place to store waters, or anything you want to bring that can get wet.

• You will notice the hole, or handle in the center; this will help us in many ways.
• First, this will be how we carry the board.

• Second, the handle will give us a reference of where to stand, kneel or sit. This is the center point of the board, and the most stabile place to stand. Too far forward or back and the board will be unstable and too easy to turn.

• Third, the handle is how you get back up after cooling off (or falling off). Don’t worry, if we hear a splash we’ll turn around, laugh, take some pictures, and then come help you back up.

• How to get back on the board after a cool off
1) Set paddle across board, or let it float, they float very well.
2) Place arms across board with one hand in handle.
3) Kick and Pull yourself up until your chest is on the board, and then place a leg or knee on the deck. All you have to do now is shimmy up until you on the board. Its similar to getting out of the pool. If you let the paddle float, you can paddle to it just like a surf board using your hands.

* If you are unable to get back on the board from the side, you can go to the back of the board and press down. The back of the board is much less buoyant and will sink under water, allowing you to shimmy back on the board.

• We will also be wearing a leash similar to surf boards. This really is our primary safety device, if you fall off the board stays with you. I don’t care if you’re Michael Phelps, on a windy day you won’t catch that board. You’re now a swimmer instead of a paddler.

• You’ll also notice there is a fin on the bottom of the board, this helps make the board track in a straight line, and it also helps with stability.
• It’s important to remember it’s there when in shallow water. If it hits bottom the board will usually stop, but you’ll keep going, hit board, and then hit water. It’s not as fun as it sounds. If you’re in shallow water its best to sit down, that way it’s harder to face plant.

Do you have any questions? Good, you’re off! Oops just kidding, still need to talk about the paddle, and how to stand up!

II. Meet the paddle

• First, you will notice the paddle blade is angled; this should always be angled forward. That will help us get a better reach on your stroke. The top (T-handle) is agronomical and will fit your hand better with the blade forward.

• For first time paddlers, I like to extend the paddle to be as tall as your first figure knuckle with your hand stretched out like you have a big question for the teacher. As you get more comfortable on the board, we may shorten that. We’ll go over why it’s so tall in the stroke technique section

• While holding the T-grip (top of paddle) place other there hand on shaft, then place the paddle on top of your head (gently). You should be forming 90 degree angels with your arms, they should form boxes. *This can be a more advanced position, so don’t worry if it’s too much. Although, it’s good to remember the wider your hands are the more power you’ll get.*

Side note; your paddle should float, and if it doesn’t you should take it back, If you can find it at the bottom. If it’s a rental and it doesn’t float, throw it in the water and go to a place that cares about the sport and you for that matter.

III. Forward Paddle stroke

• The SUP stroke is very complex; I’m more worried about you being comfortable and stabile. We’ll go over more advanced technique at another time. Here are a few things I would like to see.
• There are three parts: Catch, power and recover, also known as CPR.


– Paddle blade as far forward as possible.
– Blade must go all the way into the water. This is why we made the paddle so tall. It’s very important to get a full blade in the water. I’ve found first time paddlers have a hard time leaning and bending, so we make the paddle longer to help. We’re helpers!


– Blade must be straight up and down. Having a straight up and down blade will help you go straight. If you had an apple in your top hand (t-grip hand) and you dropped it, you should be able to catch it in your bottom hand
– Arms straight, pull with your hips and back
– With a blade all the way in the water it will not move, you will slide past it.
– Do not be afraid to pull hard, you won’t break it, don’t worry


– Stop the paddle stoke at your feet, if you do go past its ok, but stop applying power. I know you’re in beast mode at this point, but calm down.
– Drop your t-grip or top hand slightly; it will pivot the paddle on your bottom hand.
– As the paddle comes out of the water twist your top hand and wrist slightly. It helps to point your thumb in your direction of travel. His will feather your blade to help bring it back to the catch phase.
– It will also be necessary to switch sides from time to time to keep going in the desired direction. This is best done in the recovery portion.
– To switch sides you will be switching top hands, never cross your arms across your body on the forward stoke.
That’s basically it! Keep doing that until you hit something. Oh wait! We need to learn how to turn and stop. Ok Ok

IV. Turning

• The easiest way to turn is to sweep stroke.
• Paddle enters the water forward of your position, blade all the way into the water.
• Paddle blade flat against the board. Instead of the edge being close to the board on the forward stroke.
• Push off and away from the board and complete a wide arch, or sweeping motion.
• You’ve now been turned to the paddle side bwahaha

V. Stop!

• Now to stop
• Simply drag the paddle in the water. I prefer to drag is slightly behind me, that way I can lean on it more comfortably.
• This will also turn the board, it may be necessary to switch sides to keep straight or avoid other paddlers. Or, if you don’t like them, don’t switch side. Ramming speed!

VI. Stand Up For Yourself

• We will always start out from a kneeling position on the board. Test question: where are we kneeling on the board? Yup! We’re kneeling at the handle; it’s the most stabile place on the board.
• Place both hands on the paddle shaft, then while holding the paddle place your hands or knuckles on the deck in front of you.
• This a four post approach to keep you stabile your first time. You now have your knees and your hands on the deck.
• Place one foot level with the handle
• Place the other foot even with the first on the other side, the whole time your hands are still on the board keeping you stabile. At any time you can go back down to a knee, if you’re not comfortable.
• If you’re good to go, stand up with your feet flat on the board.
• Be sure to stand all the way up, stopping half way puts your weight forward and can result in a splash.
• Once standing rest your paddle in the water, or even better, start to forward paddle. The forward momentum will help.
• Now that you’re standing, be sure to relax your feet, they’ll get tingly its normal. Usually this is from death gripping with your feet, stop it. It doesn’t help.
• Best way to beat numb feet is to unlock your knees and hips, be in an active ready stance. Don’t do a squat, though. That would be super tiring, unlock the joints and relax.

Here is also a video that shows how to stand up on a paddle board. Sometimes its easier to see it.

That’s it! Your standing, you’re paddling, you’re turning, and you’re doing it! This is actually the exact lesson we give with every rental for free. The live version is a lot more fun, and has more jokes. You should come down for a rental and get your free lesson soon.