Paddle boarding is a fun new activity for people of all ages and skill levels. It can be a great way to get in some exercise during your vacation or on the weekends when you want to escape from work.
However, it can take time before you feel comfortable balancing yourself on the paddle board and paddling straight without falling over. In this blog post, I’m going to give you my best tips for how to stay balanced while standing up on your paddle board and how to paddle straight without any falls.
How Do I Keep a Paddle Board Straight?
- Push the water straight behind you
Most beginner paddle boarders tend to push the water diagonally behind them.
You want to think about pushing the water straight behind you. This will make it easier for you to propel yourself forward and stay balanced, plus keep your board going in a straight line.
Once you get the hang of this motion, there are other ways that can help contribute to keeping your paddle board straight:
2. Lean forward slightly at first
It may sound counter-intuitive, but when I’m trying to go faster on my stand up paddle board, I find myself leaning back more than I expected.
If you feel like your balance is off, and that might be an issue when paddling through choppy waters or waves, then lean towards the front as much as needed until things feel right again. You’ll probably have some wobbling here and there, but this will help you stay balanced and go straight.
3. Look straight ahead where you want to go
This is pretty simple but definitely worth noting. If you’re looking down at the board, then your body will naturally lean downwards, and that’s not going to help you stay straight when paddling out in choppy waters or waves.
Instead, look ahead of yourself while standing on the paddle board so you can keep a good balance and go into those conditions with confidence knowing everything is under control.
4. Take longer straight strokes
Longer strokes will help you stay balanced and build up speed without having to paddle too much.
So instead of paddling several times per minute, try taking longer strokes that will get the job done more efficiently. This tip alone can make a huge difference in your ability to go straight on your stand-up paddle board.
5. Use different strokes
Using different strokes will help you stay balanced as well. If your paddle board moves to the left or right,, try paddling on those sides until it’s going straight again.
This will also give you a chance to work with other muscle groups and enjoy a nice workout session without even noticing that you’re working out.
A few different strokes include forward, diagonal, side-to-side, big circles in one direction, and little circles in another direction (this can be fun too). Try all these things together until you find the direction you want, then go back to the straight trokes to keep your balance.
6. Change sides and swap hands
This will help you stay balanced and not get tired too quickly. You’ll want to change sides while paddling straight, so you’re giving your arms a different workout. You can also try swopping hands with your paddle while paddling straight.
This can be a little tricky, but you’ll find yourself working different muscles with each stroke as well instead of just doing the same thing over and over again.
7. Keep your paddle board flat
This is something that most people miss. When turning, you angle the board, so you have to keep it flat when you want to straighten. If you turn your board, it will not help you paddle straight.
Remember that your front foot is much more important than the back one because if you lean when paddling, everything goes wrong, so keep it in mind and be careful.
8. Check your balance
Lastly, check your balance. This is important to do every once in a while, especially if you’re paddling out in choppy waters or waves.
You want to make sure that your paddle board doesn’t move back and forth too much, which can lead to tipping over. If things feel like they are getting off-balance, then try leaning slightly forward as mentioned above until it feels more stable again.
How Long Should Your Paddle Be For SUP?
As a general rule, to get the appropriate length of a paddle board that best suits you, take your height and add nine to ten inches. So, if you are six feet tall, get a paddle board that is around 72.8 inches long.
A good paddler can use anything from the 60-inch range to be considered an expert, but most people stick with something in between, like 62 or 64 inches which will work well for beginners.
If you’re not sure what length of board would suit your height and weight best, then I suggest checking out this other blg I wrote on what size paddle board you need..
You may also want to ask fellow boarders or people at a beach what length they use, and also, if you see someone doing well with their paddle board, then maybe ask them for some advice as well.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the longer your board, the faster it will go, but it won’t turn as easily or quickly, so this all needs thinking about before purchasing one.
You don’t want to buy something too short because then maneuvering on waves might be difficult, whereas buying something too long can make paddling harder than necessary when going out into calm waters.
What Is The Correct Way To Use A SUP Paddle?
When paddling with both hands, use your dominant hand for upstrokes and your non-dominant hand for downstrokes
This means that if you’re right-handed, your upstrokes will be with your left hand and downstrokes with the right.
If you want to switch it up during a paddle boarding session, just make sure that the opposite hand does each stroke.
For example, if you do an upstroke with your dominant (right) hand and then a downstroke of another border does this as well, but their non-dominant (left) arm is used instead when they are paddling back, so now your hands have swapped over.
Avoid any sudden movements that may cause the board to flip over or fall over
Don’t make any sudden movements while paddling straight, or you might find yourself in a little bit of trouble and potentially falling off your paddle board if it’s windy.
It is recommended to always travel with someone else, even if they’re just on the shore watching you. This is because accidents can happen that quickly without you realizing, so having another person along will help keep an eye out for anything that could go wrong and be there if something does occur.
As mentioned above, one can also swap hands when this technique is done correctly; however, be aware that doing this too often may get tired quicker than usual.
That would mean not being able to use both arms equally enough won’t provide them with much exercise either so try changing sides every few minutes to give each side of your body a rest.
Be aware of what your surroundings are – look for obstacles, waves, or other boats before you start paddling
It is also important to be aware of what’s going on around you, especially if other people and boats are nearby.
This will help keep both yourself safe as well as others too when out on your board because looking at where you’re about to go and taking note of any obstacles that could interrupt your paddle boarding is important because hitting something head-on can easily result in injury or worse still, falling off into deep water.
Practice. It takes time to develop skills like balance and speed.
Another thing that you want to consider is practicing quite a lot to improve your skills.
Once again, this can take time and plenty of effort, especially when first starting, because it’s all about getting the right balance and being able to paddle fast enough to not fall off from exhaustion.
Practicing will help build up speed though, which is incredibly important if going down rapids or over waves where quick thinking is needed instead of taking things slowly at first before working on building up more confidence at high speeds too.
Additional SUP Tips To Help Paddle Straight and Have Control
- Know the difference between a bow and stern paddle
- Keep your paddle shaft parallel to the water’s surface.
- Always use a wide stance when you’re paddling.
- Practice holding your paddle in different positions to get used to them before you’re out on the water
- Learn how to brace for stability while paddling – this will help with balance, staying upright, and maneuvering through waves or currents.
- Paddle straight by using two strokes per side – one forward stroke followed by a backstroke that is an equal distance from each other (i.e., if you did 10 feet of forwarding strokes, do 10 feet of backstrokes)
- Get a paddle that is the right size for you.
- Put your weight on the back of the board and use your feet to control direction
- Keep your wrists loose when paddling.
- Be sure you’re in an upright position with good posture – don’t bend over too much, or you’ll lose balance and power.