One of the hardest parts of actually standing up on a paddleboard for the first time is courage. Trying to gather enough courage in yourself, that you can do it and it is okay if you fall.
Most people have the hardest time before actually standing on two feet. They convince themselves that they can’t do it before they’ve tried.
Start on your Knees
I always suggest to people I am teaching to paddle around a while on their knees. You can sit down with your butt touching your feet and paddle in a low position. Then you will want to be up right on your knees for a while, so your hamstrings are tall and off the board.
Keeping your knees and feet about shoulder width apart on the board will help to keep you centered. Figuring out how to balance is the most important part, keeping your body centered on the board with a stable base.
Once you have found a stable base, where your knees are about shoulder width and you have the balance, it’s time to try standing.
Two Feet or One at a Time
Some coaches will tell you to go one foot at a time. If you are on your knees, you put your hands flat on the board in front of you on top of your paddle. In this position you want your paddle board perpendicular to the board. Push down with your hands to keep a sturdy point of contact with the board.
Then right foot first, move it under your body and flat on the board. Next the left foot, bring it from under you to flat as well so that you are in a squat or chair like pose. Then slowly raise your hands off the board and straighten your body upward. Here you will want to make sure you keep your core really tight and engaged so that you are as stable as possible.
Now you’re standing!
I like to teach people to do both feet at the same time. This is because I think this is more efficient and eventually it will be the way you want to get up.
If you have ever learned how to surf on a surf board they tell you to lay down, paddle out and then basically hop up as fast as possible. This is the technique I like.
With your body in the same starting position, hands flat on top of your paddle and feet underneath you. You will then pop up onto both feet, sort of like you are in a plank position on your knees and just standing up with both feet at the same time.
This method I believe leads people to focus less on their paddle and since its quicker there is less chance of messing it up. You hop onto both feet so they are flat on the board and then raise up slow or fast to a standing position.
Always Keep Eyes Forward
One of the biggest mistakes people can make when standing up is to look down. Here you will want to make sure that you are looking outward, forward off the front of the board. Keeping your gaze at a higher level looking forward will help to keep you from falling.
If you look down or around at your paddle or the board or even your feet, you are likely to go where they are – down. Here you will want to be looking up because you are trying to stand up – go upward.
Keep your gaze toward where you want to be, up.
Don’t Focus on the Paddle
Another mistake beginners make is to focus on their paddle too much.
When I stand how will I get my paddle? What if my paddle falls in the water? Little problems that do not matter nearly as much as keeping your balance, core engaged and feet shoulder width apart.
Don’t worry about the paddle, naturally you will pick it up as you stand because you have your hands on it. Part of the position you are in before you stand is two hands flat on top of the handle laying on the board.
So don’t stress about that, it will come as you stand.
Flexibility and Balance
Make sure that before you get on a board you believe you have both of these things. It can help to stretch, or do core and leg strength building exercises before actually trying to get on the water. You can even lay your paddleboard on the ground and attempt to stand on it.
Get comfortable with it before you put it on water! The more comfortable you can be with your ability, the more successful you will be.
Even if you fall, Get Back Up
Most people fall – I would say everyone who has learned to paddleboard has fallen at least once. So if happens, brush it off, climb back on and try again!
I can’t stress enough that this sport takes time, practice and strength building. It may not come as quickly to you as you would like. This does not mean you should give up, but instead learn from your mistakes. The more times you try, the more you will learn about what not to do.
Now go get out on the water, try something new!