Falling off your board is normal in stand up paddling.  If you’re not falling or trying not to fall, you’re not having much fun or learning.

I get students who admit they haven’t fallen off yet, thinking that’s an accomplishment.  In my mind, it’s not a fail to fall.  In fact learning to fall means you can learn how to get back on your board.  Some actually find out they can’t due to poor upper body strength, a super wide or thick board (34″ or wider, or 6″ thick) or they get into panic mode in rough weather while trying to get back on.

Falling in a protected area allows you to test your gear so you’re better prepared for a storm or surf wipeout.

Here’s a few tips for falling and safely getting back on..

Practice Falling –

  • Before falling, test the water depth.  Don’t fall in less than a few feet deep.
  • Always fall flat like a pancake.  We also called it the Hi-C Plunge.  Not doing so means that if you didn’t test the depth before going it, you may catch your leg or ankle going in, or even worse break your neck diving.  While surfing, I can fall in 2-3 of water and not hit the bottom (I’m 6-5, 210lbs).
  • Fall away from the board






Pro Tip: Paddlers who use inflatables create a bad habit of landing on their soft boards. When they switch to a hard board the landing is a lot harder.

Getting Back On / ReMounting –

  • Move to the rear rail (side by tail) and get on there as it’s easier than the middle
  • Kick your feet HARD then pull on. This floats you body up on the surface making it easier to pull on horizontally vs vertically out of the water
  • Practice in shallow water before going out deeper

Wear a Leash –

We see a ton of folks in open water far from shore without a leash.  It’s common to hear ‘I never fall away from my board’ or ‘I don’t plan on falling in.’  You will fall, and it’s not guaranteed you’ll fall next to your board, especially in wind, waves, current and how you fall.  Boards tend to shoot out if you fall off the tail.

Next question, how far can you swim?  In Puget Sound where we see non leash activity in summer, water is only 55-60F.  How far can you swim in this temp before you get numb and/or hypothermia?

Pro Tip: If you find your leash gets in your way, attach it to your PFD waist straps (or Co2 waist strap).  Some surfers wear a removable waist strap with a Fastex buckle when not wearing a PFD for this purpose.

Not Going to Wear a Leash?

  • Dress for the water temperature
  • Wear a PFD (not on your board). If you lose your board you also lose your PFD.
  • Practice swimming long distances in rough water. 2 SUP accidents in 2014 involved paddlers without leashes or a broken leash having to swim 2-3 miles back to shore in open ocean, one in 30t winds.


Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This