Beginner's Blunders: Avoid Early-on SUP Mistakes

Posted: Nov 25 2013

So you’re ready to start standup paddling? Got your board, got your paddle, got your buddy? Laird Hamilton team rider Chuck Glynn drops knowledge with six first time blunders he sees regularly from new paddlers. That way, you can avoid them. 
  • People usually have their paddle the wrong way. Make sure the paddle is facing the right direction.  For beginners, it feels like the blade curve should be towards you but it’s the opposite. Generally the logo—and thus, the blade angle—is facing away from you. Your stroke will be a lot smoother if your paddle is facing the correct direction. 
  • Most first time paddlers are all arms and don’t engage the core. That only comes as you grow into your stroke. First timers can help engage the core right away by making sure the paddle blade is all the way in the water before pulling back on the stroke. Also, try and reach the paddle blade out as far as you can before placing the blade in the water for your stroke. This way, your shoulders and core will naturally twist a little, engaging your whole body as you pull back on your stroke. 
  • When you switch paddle hands, your top hand has to switch too: Paddling on your left side, your right hand goes on top and when you switch to your right, your left hand goes on top. Seems simple but people mess it up. 
  • That knobby grip on top of your paddle is there for a reason. Keep your hand at the very top of the paddle handle. This helps with leverage during your stroke.
  • Lots of people want to surf. But you can be a danger to yourself and to others. At least learn to turn on your board and be comfortable moving around on it before you approach surf breaks. That’s the one spot where people usually get hurt standup paddling. Know your limitations and know how to control equipment.
  • Many paddlers forget that knee high waves are just as much fun on paddleboards because there is so much foam in the board, making them more floaty. So you can avoid crowded spots. Don’t go crowd into a lineup when you can have your own private break down the beach that is just as much fun, even if it is a little smaller.

Written By Joe Carberry
for LairdHamilton.com