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How to Walk on a SUP – 4 Balance Tips

Walking on the board, also called footwork, prepares you for a buoy turn (or pivot turn) and is required for adjusting board trim for surfing and downwinding.  And it’s great practice for building your overall paddling confidence and balance.

2 SUP Balance Myths

  • A vertical paddle on a SUP may create a tiny bit of stability but won’t work in wind and waves.
  • Trying to balance like on a tight rope with the paddle blade out of the water will make you unstable and more likely lead to a fall.

How to Walk or Step on your SUP – Static Brace Method

  • Make sure your leash is attached and you’re ready to get wet. Not wanting to get wet means you won’t push yourself and have as much fun.  In moving current, attach your leash to your waist or vest PFD strap.
  • Place the flat blade in the water at your side (90 degree angle to board). This is a brace.

    Static Brace flat at your side when walking or tippy

  • With the paddle blade at your side (power face or backside flat on water) walk or step backwards behind your handle. On surf style boards, you only need to go a few inches behind the handle.
  • Now walk forward in front of the handle, then back again.

How to Walk or Step on your SUP – Paddling Method

  • Make sure your leash is attached and you’re ready to get wet. Not wanting to get wet means you won’t push yourself and have as much fun.  In moving current, attach your leash to your waist or vest PFD strap.
  • Start to paddle.  Paddling = Stability. Like riding a bike or catching a wave on a surfboard.
  • Still paddling, walk or step backwards behind your handle. On surf style boards, you only need to go a few inches behind the handle.
  • Now walk forward in front of the handle, then back again.

Find Stability with These Tips

Keep paddle in the water for stability

  • Slap the water at your side with a flat paddle
  • Paddle for stability – This is what I do.
  • Use the Sweeping Brace to hydroplane your paddle across the water instead of a feather above the water.
 When in doubt, paddle

Practice Practice Practice..

  • Practice walking on the board forwards and backwards when paddling forwards and backwards.
  • When walking back, start to get low near the nose, keep your paddle active in the water either as a brace or turning. Then do a sweep turn to turn the nose around in a 180 or 360.
  • Be willing to get wet, you’ll learn more.
  • You should get comfortable walking back and fourth on your board without thinking much about it.
  • Once you start getting comfortable, try footwork on rough water and waves.  Get tippy – paddle!
  • I mentioned wearing a leash – this keeps your board from getting away from you when you fall, especially in wind.

Check out my Intermediate SUP Skills Online Course to see videos on footwork, balance and recovery.

Related Posts..

5 Tips for Better Balance on a SUP

How to Paddle in Clapotis (Reverb)

7 Tips for Paddling a SUP Upwind

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.

Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips

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