This is a common question I hear – Is Paddle boarding difficult? My answer – it depends.
If you start out like I did on a board too small for my 6′-5′ height and 230 lb weight, then standing is nearly impossible. In addition, I didn’t have good instruction and my first time was on bay in Hawaii with small waves coming in. I did more falling than standing. It’s not uncommon to see others going through that sort of experience.
Get Started Right
Paddle boarding is easier if you start out on a board that is the right size for your height and weight. Bigger folks like me should start out on a surf style (looks like a surf board) SUP that is at least 11′ long and 34″ to 36″ wide. Thickness should be around 5″ thick. The fin, which helps with stability should be at least 9″ long.
Similarly, a board too big could be hard to get off your car and to the shore.
Read more about choosing the right paddle board
Ideally Take a Lesson
Some do just stand up! Others need more help and tips for standing and staying up. Taking a lesson from an experienced. or even better, a certified instructor who will save you a lot of frustration.
For example, instructors such as myself haver been working with newbie paddle boarders for a decade or more and have developed tried and true techniques for making it much easier for you to start out.
Like any new skill, it takes a few times to get comfortable with paddling. Some hear paddle board is so easy that you’ll jump up and master it on one session! Again, some will get up quickly, others not. Nonetheless it takes time to get comfortable standing and paddling over boat wakes, turning quickly, learning to race, paddling downwind and learning to surf. And that learning process is fun!
Falling is Normal
“I don’t have good balance” is something we hear a lot. I don’t either but with a stable board and paddling (momentum = stability) I stay stable when paddling. It’s normal and ok to fall – we all do! Falling is fun too. Wear a leash and vest PFDs you don’t lose the board and stay safe in the water.
Do I Have to Be in Shape for Paddling?
I’ve had students who told me they’re waiting to get in shape to learn paddle boarding! As long as you have basic swimming skills you can learn to paddle. You don’t need to be in perfect shape. With the right paddling stroke and some mileage under your belt, you’ll get in shape by paddling!