11 Legitimate Reasons Why You Should Take SUP Lessons


People that are interested in venturing into the realm of stand up paddle boarding always question whether or not lessons are needed. At first glance, it seems like an activity that someone could learn on their own.

It is highly recommended that novices partake in formal SUP lessons for their first outing. However, SUP lessons are not necessarily needed for an individual to grasp the basic fundamentals of this water activity. Trial and error is a sufficient means to learn SUP if formal lessons are unavailable.

Although individuals can learn SUP on their own, that does not mean it is the most effective way of mastering how to paddle board. There are a multitude of benefits that go along with participating in SUP lessons. This article highlights several notable reasons why you should seriously consider SUP lessons.

1.) Minimizes Risk of Possible Injury

The foremost reason why you should partake in SUP lessons is that it reduces the risk of injury. Although SUP is a relatively safe water activity, there is still room for potential harm if you do not exercise the appropriate caution.

For instance, it is a common mistake for beginners to attempt to catch themself on the board when they feel themselves falling. This is not a safe practice whatsoever.

Attempting to save yourself by trying to latch onto the board at the last second does more harm than good. With this method, there is a greater likelihood that you will accidentally smack yourself on the board and hurt yourself.

One of the very first practices that SUP lessons teach novices is to drop the paddle and fall away from the board. It is in the best interest of the participants and the instructors to keep everyone safe. This falling technique is the best way to reduce chances of potential injury.

Individuals that learn SUP on their own are typically ignorant of this falling technique. Trust me, there is no worse way to start off your stand up paddle boarding adventure than with an injury.

2.) Find Out How to Navigate through the Rough Surf

Another benefit to SUP lessons is that you learn how to efficiently navigate through the surf.

Even if you plan to stand up paddle board on flat water, you will still have to trudge through some waves before you can get out on the open water.

Sometimes it could be an extremely exhausting undertaking to battle through these waves to reach flat water. Maneuvering through the surf is an art that takes time and patience. For certain individuals, time and patience are not qualities for which they are known for.

Even once you battle through the waves and reach your desired destination on the water, you will still have to navigate through that same surf on the way back.

This is where SUP lessons would come in handy. Instructors teach participants the most effective techniques to move through the waves and gain access to flat water. It is to your benefit to learn these tips and tricks as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary frustration down the road. This way, you will be able to get the most out of your stand up paddle boarding experience.

3.) Discover Secret Balancing Techniques that Actually Work

In addition, SUP lessons teach you how to properly stabilize yourself when you feel like you are losing your balance.

Novices struggle to find their balance once they stand atop the board for the first time. This is standard since there is a bit of a learning curve to understanding how to equally distribute your body weight on the board surface.

The main problem comes when first timers feel like they are losing their balance. Rather than implementing practical stabilizing techniques, novices tend to flail their arms around in panic and shuffle their feet. Not only do these movements throw riders off the board faster, they also increase the chances of riders falling and hurting themselves on the board.

SUP lessons prep individuals for this specific situation. Instructors know that the majority of beginners will want to panic as soon as they start losing balance. It is for this reason that instructors teach first time participants to restrain from thrashing their arms around and to rely on their paddle for support instead.

Most novices paddle boarders are unaware that the paddle is a wonderful tool for negating loss of balance. The wider and farther out that the paddle is placed into the water, the greater degree of support that it will provide.

Moreover, instructors also teach participants that kneeling back down on the paddle board is a practical way of reestablishing equilibrium. Kneeling on the paddle board is the most stable position that you can be on a paddle board. It is far easier to appropriately reposition your center of gravity from the kneeling state relative to an upright stance.

These are just a couple subtle balancing techniques that SUP lessons can offer. These techniques will help you to maintain your balance much more quickly so you can focus on simply enjoying your ride.

4.) Learn the Appropriate Way to Hold the Paddle

Surprisingly, there is a particular way to hold the paddle to get the most power behind every paddle stroke.

The majority of first time stand up paddle boarders are unaware of this fact. They hold the paddle incorrectly and wonder why they are having such a hard time maneuvering through the water.

Many beginners mistakenly believe that the paddle blade is completely straight. In reality, the paddle blade is angled to allow smooth entry into the water and minimize shoulder strain.

The paddle should be held so that the paddle blade faces away from you when performing paddle strokes. When the paddle is held in this way, pushing the paddle board through the water is a great deal easier. This is because most of the raw force that you generate with each stroke translates directly into movement in one direction.

If the paddle blade is held with the paddle blade facing toward you, the paddle blade tends to flap in the water. This involuntary flapping causes the paddle to hit the side of the board, which detracts from your potential stroke power.

This tip may seem petty, but it will do you wonders when you are out on the water. It is small tricks like these that will help to make your SUP outing that much better.

5.) Learn About How Moving Through the Water Improves Board Stability

This is an insider tip that may not be so noticeable from the outside looking in. Moving through the water actually helps to improve board stability rather than take away from it.

Stand up paddle boarding is much like riding a bike in this respect. Trying to ride a bike from a dead stationary position is a laborious affair. Attempting to ride the bike once it has a little bit of movement, however, is a much easier task to take on.

This exact same concept applies to stand up paddle boarding. It is practical to paddle on your knees to fuel the momentum of the board prior to trying to stand in the upright position. It is also imperative that you put your paddle back in the water as soon as you establish yourself in the upright position to keep the board moving.

SUP lessons would teach all of these basic concepts from the beginning. It seems counterintuitive to think that more board movement in the water would equate to more stability, but it is the truth. SUP lessons help to clear up misconceptions such as these so you can master the fundamentals faster than you would on your own.

6.) Correctly Position Your Feet Right Away

A major component of maintaining stability on a paddle board is correctly positioning your feet on the board.

Although this seems like a simple task on paper, it does present some complications when first timers physically have to do it.

If the feet are positioned too close to the nose end of the paddle board, the front end of the board will dip into the water. This also applies to the other end of the board. The tail will sink into the water if the feet are positioned too far back.

Even if you are able to appropriately identify the problem, it is challenging to make the necessary adjustments to regain stability.

Many novices make the common error of lifting one foot up and stepping forward or backward to find the center of the board. Unfortunately, lifting one foot up will offset the weight distribution on the deck of the board and cause the board to rock in the water. Rather than supporting your balance, stepping one foot at a time actually detracts from it.

SUP instructors instead teach a so called “hopping method” where a rider lightly jumps on the board two feet at a time to reposition themselves on the board. This way, the weight distribution is not offset since both feet are losing contact with the board at the same time and reconnecting with the board at the same time.

SUP lessons would help you to refine this strategy so that you could find your balance in no time!

7.) Ease the Transition to Standing Upright

Furthermore, SUP lessons help tremendously with the delicate transition from the kneeling position to the standing position.

Preserving board stability throughout this transition process is a common problem area for novices. Since this is usually their first experience on a board, beginners are a bit hesitant when attempting to execute this movement.

There is definitely a happy medium between how quickly riders should perform this movement.

Riders that execute this transition too slowly may find that their balance is compromised because of it. On the other hand, paddle boarders that carry out this movement too rapidly will find that the board will shoot out from under them.

SUP instructors talk beginners throughout this entire transition procedure. They provide first timers with examples of themselves performing the movement to provide these eager students with a proper model to follow.

Instructors can also administer individualized constructive criticism to a rider that is having problems with standing up on the board. It helps to have a reliable third party to lend a helping hand when needed.

8.) Get Fitted with a Board Suited to Your Individualized Needs

An improperly sized paddle board can make or break your SUP outing. It is THAT important to the overall quality of your experience.

Contrary to popular opinion, the paddle board is not the same as a surfboard. The paddle board is slightly wider and lengthier than the average surfboard. Often times, first timers end up choosing a board that is not large enough to adequately support their weight because of this misconception. They only realize this fact when they are out on the open water.

To emphasize, board size is a substantial factor in determining how easy of a time a rider will have finding their stability out on the water.

Many novices are ignorant of this fact and automatically blame themselves if they fall in to the water multiple times. The problem may not be the balancing skills of the rider, it may be just be that the board is not large enough to adequately support their weight.

SUP instructors fit riders with boards on a case by case basis. Smaller individuals tend to receive smaller boards so that they are not so sluggish in the water. Larger individuals, or riders who lack confidence, receive bigger boards to lay a firm foundation for these participants to stand up and enjoy the ride.

9.) Don’t Want to Spend Most of Your Time in the Water

Moreover, you probably do not want to spend most of your time taking involuntary spills into the water every five minutes.

Although stand up paddle boarding is one of the simpler water activities to learn, it is not intuitive. It is likely that you will fall the first several times you attempt to make the transition from the kneeling position to the upright position. This is to be expected.

First time paddle boarders need not concern themselves with the prospect of failing. Rather, they should focus on learning from their failures so they will be better equipped to pick themselves up the next time they hop back up on the board.

SUP instructors guarantee that novices learn from their mistakes every time they fall. This is extremely helpful because many beginners have a difficult time identifying their own personal mistakes. It is much more favorable to have a seasoned veteran there to specifically identify where they are going wrong and how to fix these problem areas.

They also ensure that there is no underlying issue with the paddle boarding equipment, such as a buoyancy problem with the board.

Underlying issues often go unnoticed by first time riders. As a result, they grow frustrated with their inability to paddle board consistently. They end up blaming themselves when the real problem lies with faulty equipment.

It is much more convenient to skip that mess and ensure a solid paddle boarding experience by signing up for an SUP lesson.

10.) Familiarize Yourself with Proper Surf Etiquette

Another subtle piece of knowledge that you learn through SUP lessons is proper surf etiquette. This is helpful information to keep in the back of your mind when out on the water to avoid unnecessarily angering other people.

For one, it is important to take note of the individuals around you so as not to paddle in the way of other surfers.

With so much information flowing through your mind already, this sort of etiquette can easily get lost in the shuffle. Following the lead of an SUP instructor will help you to be weary of nearby riders.

In addition, it is easy for novices to lose track of nearby people when their concentration is completely is centered on standing up for the first time. Just having an instructor present provides another set of eyes and ears that can help to remind you of your surroundings.

If you venture too close to another paddle boarder or another surfer, instructors are right there to provide everyone with ample space to operate.

11.) Uncover the Secret as to Why Paddle Boarders Always Ride Barefoot

Have you ever noticed that most paddle boarders ride barefoot? Well, if you haven’t… they do! And there is actually a method to the madness!

The quality of your paddle boarding is based around board stability. The better you are able to balance on the board, the better your overall SUP experience.

Riding barefoot helps to promote further stability. It is a little known fact that your toes play an integral part of maintaining balance on the board. Your toes assist with weight distribution and placing pressure on certain board areas when necessary.

In addition, riding with footwear tends to result in cramping in the feet much more frequently compared to riding barefoot. Even wet suit boots do not counteract this cramping effect.

Many SUP instructors tell first timers to take off any footwear they may have on prior to wading out on the water. This subtle tip may afford you the slight advantage needed to stand up during your first SUP experience.

Reasons Why Stand Up Paddle Boarding Is Doable Without Lessons

All of these tips culminate into one final question. Can you can learn SUP on your own?

The answer is an emphatic yes!

Although learning on your own does present a fresh set of complications, certain individuals welcome the challenge. Those that are not afraid to get a bit more wet during the learning process may find that SUP is rather easy once you get the hang of it.

If you have an eager willingness to try something new and learn from your mistakes, you will certainly be able to paddle board in due time. It is all about the attitude. Formal lessons will not make much of a difference for individuals that have a stubbornly pessimistic outlook on the experience.

Teaching yourself how to stand up paddle board is certainly more troublesome than signing up for formal instruction. But at the end of the day, it is you who is learning the ropes and not the instructor.

Austin Carmody

I am the owner of HydroPursuit. I enjoy kicking back and getting out on the water as much as I can in my free time.

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