Feeling unstable on your first time on a board? Here’s 12 SUP Stability Tips tips to increase your comfort level.

Make sure you start on a board big enough for you

As a beginner, try a board that may be bigger than what you think you need. In time once you’ve gained your sea legs, you can try a board this is more narrow. Beginner boards should be at least 30″ wide. The bigger you are the wider you’ll need. I like 31″-33″ wide and am 6′-5″ tall, about 230 lbs.

Knees Bent in Rough Water and Boat Wakes

Bending your knees lower helps you become more stable. Think of your knees as shock absorbers as the water passes underneath.  When you have a boat wake coming, keep paddling and bend your knees.

Stand Up on Shore First

Not sure about standing up on the water? Draw an outline of the board in the sand and practice standing up on solid ground. Have flexibility issues? This is a great way to figure out how to stand up from a sitting position. I’ve had students that couldn’t bring their legs forward to stand up, or even get up. There’s always a solution, you just have to practice.

Always Stand up in the middle of the board

The handle is the middle of the board and most stable position. Always stand up with your feet lined up with the handle, and shoulder width apart, facing forward. If you’re behind the handle the board will be more narrow and less stable. Have a friend tell you if you’re in the middle.

– Make sure both feet are pointing forward, and are about 12″ apart (width of your shoulders). I had a student last week who had one foot that couldn’t point forwards, thus the board dipped on that side. Wider is more stable than closer together.

Paddling makes you more stable

Once you stand up immediately take a few strokes. Momentum is stability, like riding a bike. You can even paddle the board a bit on your knees and while it’s still moving, stand up.

Get tippy – paddle!

When in Doubt – Paddle.

In rough water if you begin to loose your balance – keep paddling. Beginners tend to stand up and lean back with the paddle above their head to regain balance usually falling in. Instead train yourself to dig the blade in the water, stay low and keep paddling.

Use a Static Brace

If the above doesn’t work and you feel you’re going in use a brace to prevent yourself from falling in. Slap the flat portion of the blade on the surface of the water as you begin to lose balance.

Sweeping Brace

In the above situation, another method of a brace is to slide the flat portion of the blade across the surface of the water in one direction to help regain balance. Apply pressure to your lower arm as you sweep or hydroplane the blade across the water.

Always Have a Slight Bend in Knees

While standing, make sure you knees have a micro bend. Locked knees will send you for a swim.

Looking Behind with Confidence

If you need to look behind you, or up, place the face of the paddle flat on the water at your side. Keep it there when you look around behind or above you. Knees bent it there’s waves.

More Advanced Techniques

Use the Sculling Brace

Another version of the brace above is an advanced brace called the ‘sculling brace’. Place the blade flat on the water by the middle of the board and while rotating your torso, slide it back and fourth on the surface while pulling down on the shaft to apply pressure to the blade. The brace above is a static brace, this one is an active brace.

Slicing Rail Stroke

After taking a stroke, instead of pulling the blade out of the water, twist your wrists back which exposes the power face of the blade to your rail. While still in the water, slide the blade face forward parallel to the rail back the catch (nose) – like slicing a knife through melted butter.

Essentially you never take the blade out of the water during your forward stroke. Again, having you blade in the water adds stability, so in rough water, current, or surf, keeping your blade in the water throughout your entire stroke will make you more stable.


Learn More through my online courses or in-person Seattle based instruction @ www.salmonbaypaddle.com

Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips