Whenever I start teaching a paddle board class, students express their fear of falling off the board.  I often overhear folks in public areas expressing the fear of falling. Read on to learn about the fear of falling off a SUP.

Common Reasons for a Fear of Falling

– Fear of failure
– Not wanting to be embarrassed
– Not wanting to get wet
– Fear of not getting back on the board
– A feeling not falling is an accomplisment

My first response is Falling is not a failure.

In fact, not falling or trying not to means you’re not having fun and will feel stressed, stiff or uneasy during your paddle or class.

As the old paddling saying goes – you’re not trying hard enough if you’re not falling (or getting wet).

I’ve heard paddlers say “I’ve done this two years without falling off.” Have you ever tried getting back on your board? In some cases not doing so is a failure as you’ll be risking your life as well as others who may need to rescue you.  Plus you’re not having that much fun avoiding falling all the time.

I can tell if a student is looking stiff or unusually quiet during a lesson or in public.  It’s a relief for both of us once they fall in – they’re always relieved realizing it’s not as bad as they thought, they feel refreshed commonly saying “the water actually feels good!”

Admittedly there are the days when I’m wearing shorts on 55F Puget Sound and I don’t want to get wet knowing I don’t have replacement clothes in the car, and/or I’m planning on going somewhere after my paddle.  In those cases I’ll try to avoid falling in, and each time I realize that experience isn’t as fun as embracing getting wet.

When I take students to paddle in the tidal rapids of Deception Pass (saltwater rapids) north of Seattle, everyone swims – including me, and we’re all loving it!  Check out the Tidal Rapids class!

4 Tips for falling off a SUP

Dress for immersion or the water temp.  Many get into SUP for the minimalist feeling but too little clothing means you’ll fear falling in.  Finding the right balance of clothing to balance the air and water temp can be tricky.  If you think you’ll fall a lot, dress for it!  I carry a Seattle Sports deck bag on my board to store extra clothing if I get cold – or to store clothing if I’m too hot. Nice to have options, especially if the weather is changing.

Don’t dive in unless you can see the bottom.  Check the water depth with your paddle if the water is murky. When you do fall in – fall on the water as flat as you can to prevent from hitting the bottom.

Wear a leash to prevent from getting separated from your board.  We see a lot of folks with leashes on their boards but not wearing them – sketchy if you ask me especially if you’re offshore.  How far can you swim?

Vest style PFDs / Lifejackets prevent you from falling all the way in.  If it’s on your board, make sure you can remove it quickly if needed and you’re wearing a leash.

Tip: Many rental shops don’t have the appropriate sized PFD for you – make sure it fits you before going out.  Kayak stores have great fitting PFDs if you need one.

Read here how to get back on your SUP.

Get my SUP 101 Online Course to learn how to fall safely and get back on with several methods.

About to take a dip off my 17′ SUP

Any questions give me a holler: www.salmonbaypaddle.com
Check out my SUP classes in Seattle – Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.


Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips

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