Last weekend, I taught a class and a few dozen folks to paddle SUPs at a kayaking symposium in Port Angeles, WA. The most common fear of trying a board was about balance. Nearly everyone was worried they wouldn’t be able to stand up. In kayaking the most common fear is tipping over.
In trying a SUP for the first time, make sure you rent a board that is the longest and widest board available. If you get on one and feel tippy and have troubles standing up, ask for a larger board. Many have been intimidated by not being able to stand up and often don’t try again. I’m 6-5 220lbs and use a 30″ wide and 12′ long board, as well as one that is 34″ wide and 10 long, yet 5.5″ thick. Both are great for keeping me completely stable, even in rough conditions or surf.
Don’t stand up until you feel 100% stable on your knees. Move around on the board to make sure you’ve found your sweet spot for stability. If you do stand up, use your paddle as a tripod leg of sorts in the water to brace to add stability. Just having the paddle in the water helps with balance. Take a few strokes to also add stability.
Tips for better balance:
– stand on one leg while at the grocery store or coffee shop.
– work on your balance with a bosu ball.
– if you have tight hamstrings, loosen them up by stretching or asking a masseuse to work on that area. Yoga is great too.