How to Get Started in Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding is a fun and accessible water sport that offers numerous physical and mental benefits. Whether you're looking for a new way to enjoy the outdoors, improve your fitness, or find a peaceful escape, paddleboarding is an excellent choice. At Wittering SUP, we are committed to helping beginners get started with confidence. Here’s a comprehensive guide to getting started in paddleboarding.

Choose the Right Equipment

Board Selection: Choosing the right paddleboard is crucial for a positive experience. For beginners, wider and longer boards are ideal as they offer more stability. Inflatable boards are also a good option because they are durable, portable, and versatile.

Paddle: Your paddle should be approximately 6-10 inches taller than you. Adjustable paddles are great for finding the perfect length and can be shared with family and friends.

Learn the Basics

Positioning on the Board: Finding the correct position on the board is key to maintaining balance. Stand in the middle of the board with your feet parallel and about shoulder-width apart. Your toes should be facing forward, and your knees should be slightly bent. Look straight ahead rather than down at your feet to help with balance.

Posture for Back Health: Maintaining proper posture is essential for back health and effective paddling. Keep your back straight and engage your core muscles to hinge from your hips. This posture not only supports your back but also enhances your stability on the board. Avoid hunching over or arching your back, as these positions can lead to discomfort and inefficiency.

Paddle Stroke Technique: A good stroke technique is vital for efficient paddling and reducing the risk of injury. Start by reaching forward with your paddle, planting the blade fully in the water. Use your core muscles to to hinge at the hips and drive the paddle back towards your feet, rather than relying solely on your arms. This will provide more power and protect your shoulders from strain. Finish the stroke at your hip and lift the paddle out of the water, then repeat on the other side.

Practice Balance

Starting on Your Knees: If you’re new to paddleboarding, it’s a good idea to start on your knees. This position lowers your centre of gravity and makes it easier to find your balance. Once you feel comfortable, try standing up gradually, one foot at a time.

Finding Stability: To maintain stability, keep your weight centered over the board. If you start to feel wobbly, bend your knees slightly and widen your stance. Practice shifting your weight from side to side and front to back while keeping your feet firmly planted.

Self-Rescue Techniques

Importance of Self-Rescue: Learning to self-rescue is a crucial skill for any paddleboarder. It involves the ability to get back on your board if you fall off, which can be challenging for some. At Wittering SUP, we specialise in helping people learn this life-saving skill. Knowing how to self-rescue ensures that you can handle unexpected situations safely and confidently.

Steps for Self-Rescue:

  1. Stay Calm: If you fall off, stay calm and keep hold of your paddle.
  2. Approach the Board: Swim to the side of your board, keeping it parallel to your body.
  3. Position Yourself: Place your paddle across the board to stabilise it, then kick your legs to boost yourself up and onto the board.
  4. Regain Balance: Once you're on the board, get back to a kneeling position before standing up to regain your balance.

Take It Slow

Calm Waters: Begin your paddleboarding journey in calm, shallow waters. Lakes, ponds, and gentle rivers are perfect for beginners. Avoid areas with strong currents, waves, or boat traffic until you gain more experience.

Gradual Progression: Don’t rush the learning process. Take your time to practice and get comfortable with each new skill before moving on to more challenging conditions. Paddleboarding is a journey, and there’s always something new to learn and enjoy.

Be Patient and Kind to Yourself

Accepting Mistakes: Remember that everyone starts as a beginner. It’s okay to make mistakes and even fall off the board. These experiences are part of the learning process. Each time you get back on the board, you’re improving your skills and building confidence.

Positive Mindset: Approach paddleboarding with a positive and patient mindset. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the journey. Paddleboarding is not just about the destination but also the joy of being on the water and connecting with nature.

Join a Group

Learning Together: Learning with others can be motivating and fun. Joining a group session or taking lessons with friends or family can enhance your experience. At Wittering SUP, our group sessions are perfect for beginners. Our experienced instructors provide personalised guidance and support, ensuring you have a safe and enjoyable time on the water.

Community and Support: Being part of a paddleboarding community offers opportunities to share tips, experiences, and encouragement. You’ll find that fellow paddlers are often eager to help and share their love for the sport. Locally to us we couldn't recommend the Worcs SUP group enough! This fast growing Facebook group has over 2000+ members with more people joining everyday, including lots of our students and customers!

Enjoy the Journey

Connect with Nature: Paddleboarding is an excellent way to immerse yourself in nature. The tranquil surroundings of the water, the soothing sounds of the river, and the fresh air all contribute to a sense of peace and relaxation. Take the time to appreciate the beauty around you and let the stresses of daily life melt away.

Mindfulness and Well-being: Paddleboarding can be a mindful activity that promotes well-being. Focus on your breathing, the rhythm of your strokes, and the sensations of being on the water. This mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and enhance your overall well-being.

Call to Action: Ready to start paddleboarding? Book a beginner lesson with us and enjoy your first paddleboarding experience. At Wittering SUP, we offer tailored lessons to help you build your skills and confidence on the water.

By following these tips and embracing the learning process, you’ll soon find that paddleboarding is not only a fun and rewarding activity but also a wonderful way to connect with nature and improve your well-being. We look forward to welcoming you to the beautiful waters of the River Avon and helping you start your paddleboarding journey.