If you have been out near any water in the past few years, undoubtedly you have seen some stand-up paddle boarding on the water. Combining the work of a canoe with surfing, paddle boarding lets you get around the water on top of a surfboard-like paddle board.
Paddle boarding is really a great sport for just about anyone, getting you out on the water without the difficulty level of surfing. It is also an excellent workout, using your abs, shoulders, and back to move around. What better way there is to work out while enjoying the sun and water?
Getting into paddle boarding is simpler than you may think. Here is what you need to get so you can begin.
Let’s start with the biggest part of paddle boarding: the gear you will need. Some places do allow you to rent these supplies so you may not need to buy them yourself. But even if you are renting, you will want to make sure that you have all of these items.
- Stand up paddle board: This is definitely the most important part of the entire process, the actual board. If you are going to buy one, it is a serious gear investment. They are not a one-size fits all kind of tool. Your weight, as well as your skill level, will need to be taken into account as well as where you are going to be using it.
- Paddle: Also an important tool in the sport is the paddle itself. A stand-up paddle is a little different than a boat paddle. They are made with an elbow bend in order to help you conserve energy. The paddle length should also be based on your own height, choosing one that is at least half a foot longer than your height.
- Leash: A leash is exactly what it sounds like. It will tether you to your paddle board, ensuring that you will not lose it, or get lost yourself, in the event that you fall off the board. Leashes are not all created equally, however. Depending on where you are paddle boarding, your leash selection will need to be appropriate for the body of water and type for your own safety.
- Clothing: Of course wearing some kind of clothing while paddle boarding is necessary, but you will need a wetsuit if you are in cold water. No one expects to fall into the water, but if you do fall in, you don’t want to suffer from hypothermia and find yourself in a dangerous position. If you are in warmer weather, a swimsuit or shorts and a t-shirt are completely appropriate. Just make sure they are clothes that are meant to get wet so they don’t weigh you down.
- Lifejacket: Plenty of people ignore this, but the U.S. Coast Guard recommends that paddle board users have a personal flotation device. A paddle board does fall under the category of “vessel”, meaning that you would typically wear a lifejacket with it. There are a large variety of lightweight lifejackets on the market and they have become more stylish recently, making them not the bulky monstrosities they have been in the past.
- Sunscreen: Always use sunscreen, especially on the water. The sun’s reflection off the water can give you a more severe burn than you would have gotten normally, making the need for sunscreen even higher than on the land. You should also wear sunglasses if possible, protecting your eyes from both glare and the damaging sun rays.
How to Get Going
If there is a class locally to get you started, you should enroll if you can before you put yourself on the water. This will cover all the basics and you will learn tricks of the trade that you may not figure out from going it alone from scratch. If you do not have the opportunity to take a class, there are still ways to learn.
- How to get up on the board: Make sure that you are practicing on flat and calm water that has as few obstacles in the area as possible. This means there shouldn’t be any boats or buoys close by so you don’t accidentally crash into them.
- To begin, walk into the water with the paddle across the board.
- Hanging onto the paddle grip with one hand and the rail with the other, crawl onto the board slightly behind the center. Get into the kneeling position.
- Make sure you are balanced in the middle of the board and that it is totally level.
- When you are ready and feel steady, stand up on the board, going one foot then the other. Your feet need to be slightly behind the middle as well, in the same place that your knees were when you were kneeling.
Once you get upright, you do not want to accidentally throw yourself into the water. Here are some ways to keep your balance on the paddle board.
- Keep your feet parallel and hip’s distance apart. Your toes should be pointed forward, with your knees soft and slightly bent, but keeping your back straight.
- Concentrate on keeping your balance by focusing on your pelvis and hips. This is really your center and can be the difference of taking a nosedive or not.
- Try to keep your head forward and your shoulders up.
- Do not look down at your feet. That is a quick way to lose your equilibrium and find yourself in the water.
- Moving forward will keep you in place and help you with your balance.
- Looking at the horizon while paddling in a forward motion can help you keep balanced as well as allowing you to focus on where you are trying to get to with the paddle.
The most important thing to remember about paddle boarding is most likely why you wanted to get into it to begin with: paddle boarding is fun. So get out there on your paddle board and have a blast and maybe even try your hand at the popular craze of doing yoga while paddle boarding!
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