18 Tips for SUP (Stand Up Paddle) Beginners

SUP is a water sport which finds its earliest origins thousands of years ago on the African (warriors) and South America (fishermen) continents. Later on the contemporary form of SUP was developed in Tel Aviv (lifeguards), then Polynesia (surfers). 

SUP is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. The first Standup World Series Championship races only took place 5 years ago.

SUP is used for various purposes besides Racing: Surfing, Yoga, Fishing, Fitness, or Touring awesome locations.

My first time on a SUP was last year in Guadeloupe, at a 2-hour long Introductory course set in different type of waters: river, swamp and ocean. As the type of water varied, I had to adjust my balance accordingly. LOVED IT!! And i’ve done some more of that since.

I hope the TIPS below will enlighten you and encourage you to give SUP a try!

SUP (Stand Up Paddle)

Before Your SUP Session

  • It’s better to have decent swimming abilities, but it isn’t compulsory.
  • Learn how to hold, switch and maneuver the paddle (to move forward, stop, turn, reverse). Somewhat similar to Kayaking.
  • Stand in the middle of the board and place your feet parallel and facing the tip of the board. 
  • Ensure the paddle is set at a suitable height for you (fingertips should reach the top of the handle, with a slightly bent elbow).
  • Learn the fastest way to get back on your board, should you fall off, to reduce chance of injuries
  • Learn the proper way to fall in the water, to reduce injuries.

Videos are readily available online on the learning process. However, I’d  recommend that you sign up for an Introductory Class, for a more in-depth knowledge of the practice.

SUP (Stand Up Paddle)

It's Time to Paddle Away

  • Wear a Life Jacket, if you’re not a good swimmer and if your board doesn’t have a leash.
  • Chose what to wear based on the air & water temperature (Bikinis/Shortboards for Tropical Climates, Wetsuits otherwise).
  • Have a whistle with you (to ask for help or warn boats).
  • To remain balanced on the board DO NOT stand up totally straight. Slight bent in the knees instead.
  • Use your core & body to power you through your session (to avoid hurting your arms and getting tired fast) and sink the paddle fully into the water at each stroke.
  • Look ahead of you (do not look down at your board).
  • Adapt your balance to the type of water (differs between lakes, rivers & ocean).
  • Observe your surroundings (for weather/wind change) and keep a safe distance with swimmers, boats and others practicing a water sport.
  • If you fall, try not to let go of your paddle.
  • If you fall and you aren’t wearing a leash, get back to your board first, then paddle (with your hands while on the board) or swim (while holding your board) to retrieve your paddle.

When Your Session is Over

  • Hydrate yourself if you didn’t take water with you
  • This is a Full Body Workout. Stretch your muscles accordingly.


SUP (Stand Up Paddle)


SUP (Stand Up Paddle)

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6 Replies to “18 Tips for SUP (Stand Up Paddle) Beginners”

  1. All very good tips and advice for Supping! I actually love to Sup and live very close to one of the popular lakes in Austin for supping. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Oh, I’ve always wanted to try this! You make it sound doable, maybe I will. I wouldn’t have thought to have a whistle, that’s a good idea.

  3. Interesting post 🙂 I love to swim but I’ve never been à huge watersports girl, however I do want to try some out so I might try this sometime 🙂 thanks for all the info and advice X

    1. Thanks Sophia, if you’re not into watersports, maybe you’ll get a taste of it by going on a kayak for 2, to have an idea. And because you’ll be in the kayak with someone else, it should give you some reinsurance. You’ll see how easy it is to paddle and cruise through the water. After a few kayak sessions, you might feel more encouraged to try SUP. Let me know if you try any of these 2 🙂

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