Last summer, a friend of mine was downwind at Hood River, Oregon. At some point in his run, he fell on his board breaking a few ribs. He was out of action for at least 2 weeks until he was comfortable for paddling.

Another friend fell on her board during a rough water race a few months late bruising her ribs.  It happens to even the best of us.

Last week I was paddling in shallow murky water when my fin hit a rock which threw me forward onto the board. I landed on my knees worried I may of dinged the board. Instead I left a pretty good sized pressure ding on the nose.

You may respond to the above thinking “I never fall” or a one I’ve heard before, “I haven’t fallen in two years!

Those worried about falling aren’t having a good time as they will take less risks.

Falling isn’t a failure.  Falling doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing, are showing others you’re less experienced.  Pros fall all the time. Falling means you’re trying, are pushing yourself and as a result am having more fun.

3 Rules for How to Fall off your SUP

  • Always fall away from your board, whether it’s behind the tail or away from the rails.
  • Always fall flat. This means landing like a pancake. For those old enough, remember the Hi-C fall?
  • Always wear a leash so your board doesn’t get away from you after your fall.  When I pivot turn then fall, the board shoots out like a rocket and can land 10′ or more away with no leash. In wind, the board will keep going.

Tip: Wear a vest style PFD to stay warmer and provide body protection if you hit the board, especially in big water or downwinding. 

How to Practice

  • Dress for immersion. You’ll have more fun and learn more if you’re not cold.
  • Start by practicing near shore if you’re unsure if you can get back on your board.
  • Fall in water waist or chest deep (or deeper) to prevent injury.
  • Fall off the side of the board and tail.
  • Always wear your leash so you don’t lose the board. In current attach leash to your waist or vest PFD straps.

Check out this great video from Blue Planet Surf on falling off a board.

Fall Away and Flat!


Model: Salmon Bay Instructor Alex Vaughan

Photos by John Patzer

About Rob Casey – Named a pioneer in the SUP industry by Stand Up Journal, Rob is the author of “Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Surf and Rivers” and “Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips.” Rob owns SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle. He also runs several paddling races throughout the year.
Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.


Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips

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