What’s up with your SUP technique?
SUPing is definitely one of the easiest water sports to learn, almost anyone can get on a board and paddle. However, if you want to avoid injury and get the most out of your SUP experience, you need to master the right technique.
Let's talk about the basic skills of standing on your board, paddling correctly and turning.
Standing on your board
Position yourself on the deck, making sure you feel balanced. Ensure your feet aren’t too close to the rails, they should be centred and about shoulder width apart. Take a minute to assess the way you are standing, if you’re too far forward, the nose of the board will be submerged in water, if you’re too far back, the back of your board will be sinking.
Keep your feet facing forward and parallel with the stringer (the line that passes through the middle of the board). Minor feet adjustments along the way are normal, but remember that forward momentum will increase your stability, so it’s easier to reposition yourself while paddling.
Your knees should be relaxed and slightly bent, engaging your core, centring yourself over the board. Keep your eyes forward and your back straight, bending through the hips, not through the back.
Always remember, the paddle’s blade should be facing away from you. If you’re paddling on the right side, your top hand will be the left, and vice-versa. When gripping your paddle, wrap your hand around the top of the handle. Don’t be tempted to hold it with two hands on the shaft, like you would with a mop.
With one hand on top and the other on the shaft, position your hands about shoulder width apart. The top hand will be the driving force to pull the blade through the water, the bottom hand will be its guide.
When entering the blade into the water, extend your reach as far forward as it’s comfortable, and draw it back in a straight line towards your feet, parallel to your stand up paddle board. Take a few strokes on one side, then switch to the other side, changing the position of your hands as you swap.
The easiest way to turn is to keep paddling on the opposite side you want to go. Short, frequent strokes will get you turning, although this technique requires plenty of space.
You can also turn by back paddling. Place your blade in the water to slow yourself, then when you start losing speed enter your blade into the water behind your feet, stroking backwards, until you reach just past your body. Then halfway through, return to paddling on the other side of the board.
Another technique is the pivot turn. This is the hardest to master, but the quickest way to turn. It’s done by stepping back on your tail and lifting the board’s nose out of the water and shifting your weight backwards. Bend your knees to stay low on the board, then start to make short strokes on the opposite side you want to turn, putting the blade in the water away from you and pulling it back towards your board. Then, get back to your regular stance and start paddling to gain momentum.