When you’re first attempting to fully stand up on a SUP (Standup paddle board) it may be quite challenging. The board will feel as though its trying to get out from under you. The exact same feeling takes place when you’re on a board that is too small, even for someone who’s been using paddle boards for quite a while.
You really feel like the board won’t stay flat and it really wants to fly out from under you, either sideways or backwards. It may also feel as though its sinking, which isn’t the biggest problem unless the board is actually broken. The issue with the ‘sinking’ is that the board wants to be on top of the water, and will try to get there as fast and easy as possible. It does this by heading towards the side that is higher, which is normally a result of you being unbalanced.
Just note: the board isn’t actually thinking. It’s just basic physics people. 🙂
Here’s three easy tips to help you stay stable, and get standing upright on a new board, or a board that may be too small for you:
- Find your center, and also the board’s.
There may be 2 things that are unstable when you initially try to fully stand up on a board: the board and you. And let’s be honest. Its normally not the board.
The very first key here is to find the board’s center, and ensure you stand just behind it. If the nose is dipping down into the water, you’re too far forward. If anything, we want the back of the board to be lower in the water. This really is necessary for getting forward momentum.
Many boards have a handle that is usually pretty close to center. Seek to stand/kneel just behind that to start.
Next, before you begin, find your personal ‘center’. Which means take a second on your knees or on your stomach and breathe deep, calm yourself and begin feeling the water. We’re not talking of meditation or becoming one with the stars here; we just know you’re more stable when you’re calm and focused! The lower center of gravity (due to being on your knees), also helps keep you stable until you’re prepared to stand.
- Get some good forward momentum!
Consider it like riding a bike. It’s much better to stay upright if the bike is moving. As soon as you stop moving, you fall over. The same goes for a SUP (Standup paddle board). If it’s continuing to move forward, it’s tougher for it to travel sideways.
So as soon as you’re getting stable on a board, start paddling! It doesn’t matter if you’re just on your knees (most likely the best way to start anyway!), or if you’re holding the paddle wrong. Just get paddling.
Once you’re moving forward, then get a feel for your board. You’ll have the ability to see if its dragging the rear too much, or if the front is a foot out of the water (which happens to be far better than a foot in the water). Then try to look for a more centered area (stay on your knees!), and keep going. Once you feel more stable, try and stand.
- Make use of the Paddle for stability.
Consider the paddle as a third leg in the water. While you paddle, it will help keep you stable, and provides you more balance. This works essentially as when the paddle pushes through the water it ‘grips’ the water through traction, making it possible for some of your instability to go into the paddle as opposed to the board.
Once you’re more at ease on the board, you’ll really feel the difference of when your paddle is in the water. So always keep the paddle in the water more than the air.
A note on this last point: you might like to use the paddle as a stabilizer like tightrope walkers do (ie: holding it horizontally). This could help strengthen your balance temporarily, but can be really dangerous in the event you start falling and swing the paddle around. So I suggest not using it this way!
Overall, whenever you feel your balance on the board, it’ll get much easier to start and stand up. Start using these tips to help you get going.