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Is it hard to do stand up paddleboarding? What is the best technique for it?

Lucija Kordić, The East Bay gal adding Dalmatia to her global SUP ohana.

Answered Feb 28, 2016


Thanks for ATA. I can only speak for Flatwater SUP with occasional conditions of wind and boat-wake induced chop as opposed to surf, river, yoga, or downwind SUP.

Following a series of routines created by Suzie Cooney posted on to Athleta's site for at least four months got me up on a board with ease. In fact I was shocked how truly awesome and easy it was.

So in terms of technique and prep I highly recommend her book, How to Increase Your Stand Up Paddle Perfromance, based on my own experience.

And if you're in the Bay Area like me, we have Jen Fuller, who has trained much of the area's top racing talent, is a terrific instructor, and a bad-ass in her own right. While I haven't been one of her race winners I've benefitted from training with her and observing her holistic approach to instruction.

I agree with Jeff in that the ability to swim, wearing a personal floating device and leash, understanding weather conditions, and properly fitted gear are all conducive to embracing the sport.

Along with searching for videos, I recommend taking at least one lesson with an ACA/PSUPA/WPA certified instructor, following SUP Connect or The Standup Zone for tips and tricks, and joining a local MeetUp group.

Most importantly, just get out there and try!

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Jeff Sievers, Long time writer, editor, video producer, health care admin and educator based in NYC and LI, (NY). Now lak...


Yes, its difficult. But it is a wonderful experience, and a terrific form of exercise. There are a few pointers that I would give to anyone starting out.

First, you should be a strong swimmer. Second, always wear a life jacket. Third, try it in calm, flat, water until you feel comfortable. Fourth, go with a board that is correctly sized for your height and weight. Fifth use a properly sized paddle.

First, you should be a strong swimmer. Second, always wear a life jacket. Third, try it in calm, flat, water until you feel comfortable

If you are fairly athletic, and a good swimmer, the basic technique won't take long to master. First kneel on the board about midway, holding the paddle across the board and resting in front of you. you can paddle on your knees for a bit until you begin to feel comfortable. Then, when things are stable, focus your eyes ahead of you and rise to a standing position. keep you legs spread at shoulder width and your knees slightly bent. Without looking down, begin paddling. The blade should enter the water in front of you and be pulled smoothly to the rear.

Don't try to do too much the first few times out and don't move on to rougher water or surf until you are ready. If you feel unsteady, you can drop to your knees and continue. If you fall off, walk or swim back to the board and throw your body across the board to recover. A leash attached to your foot or leg helps to keep the board near you.

There are a number of excellent videos showing this technique on the web. They will also help you to size the paddle and the board. In general, the paddle should extend from the ground to the tip of your fingers with your hand raised over your head. The board should be rated for your height and weight, wider boards are more stable and thinner boards are better suited to surf and rough water. When starting out a wide, long, board is much easier to control.

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Bertrand Van der Berg, Paddling since 1999 competitively. SUP instructor. WW racer.

Answered Feb 28, 2016


No it is not. I teach beginners all the time. I have not found anyone who could not get it within an hour or so.

Just start out with a nice wide board (30" or more).

Having said that. Being competitive at racing or competent at something like whitewater or surfing does take skills, practice and commitment. Being able to SUP and being competitive are two different things.

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