Are you a first time paddleboarder? Here are the ten most important things you need to know as a new beginner paddle boarder.

Paddle boarding, or SUP (which stands for Stand Up Paddleboarding) is a fun, popular and safe sport that combines exercise, adventure and time outside in nature. One of the many great things about paddle boarding is that it can be enjoyed by everyone – all ages, all abilities, and all skill levels.

We’ve harnessed the power of social media to ask what the most important things a new paddle boarder needs to know, and this is what the collective mind said!

If you’re new to paddleboarding, here’s a beginner’s guide to get you started:

Beginner paddle board tip #1: Get a lesson

Before hitting the water, it’s important to learn the basic paddleboarding techniques. This includes how to stand up on the board, how to paddle, and how to turn. The best way to do this is to get a lesson with a qualified instructor, or book a trip with a coach or guide. There are also many resources available online, including videos and tutorials, that can help you learn these skills, but the absolute quickest way to getting up and going, is by getting a lesson. 95% of people who choose a lesson are standup paddling within 5 minutes!

White water SUP paddling #3

“Get a lesson from a qualified instructor, and try as many boards you can” – This advice from Wendy who paddles with SUP Bath regularly., and helps to organise their social paddles. Of course, make sure you try out McConks boards when you try out lots of boards!

Photo of Craig Jackson from SUP Shropshire adventure guiding

Beginner paddle board tip #2: Choose the right equipment

You’ll need a paddleboard, paddle, a personal flotation device (PFD), a quick release waist belt for your leash, and a means of communication (eg. a mobile phone in a dry pouch). Paddle boards come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and it’s important to choose one that is appropriate for your weight and skill level. If you find your local SUP club or instructor, you’ll be able to work with them to figure out what’s the best type of gear for you – everyone’s different, so there’s no one size fits all paddleboard.

“Always wear a leash attached to a quick release belt. It’s so much easier to sit down without the leash being in the way all the time!”


Beginner paddle board tip #3: Wear appropriate clothing

Wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting wet, and if it’s cold, wear a wetsuit or a dry suit. Also be aware of water temperature, and dress for immersion – always assume you’re going to fall off.

“Accept you’re going to get wet – it’s a watersport, and dress for what might happen, not for ‘oh what a lovely day'”


Beginner paddle board tip #4: Find a calm and safe spot to practice

When you’re just starting out, it’s best to practice in calm, flat water. Look for a lake or a quiet section of a river or bay. Avoid areas with strong currents, waves, or boat traffic. And make sure you have permission to be on that water

Beginner paddle board tip #5 Make sure you have the right licences and insurance

The easiest way to ensure you have the right licences and right insurance, is to join either British Canoeing (and we have it on good authority they are aware they need to update their name to British Paddlesports), or the Water Skills Academy (WSA). British Canoeing waterways licence covers almost every river and canal that you need a licence to paddle. The WSA membership is cheaper, but covers a more restrictive number of (mostly) canals. Both give you the appropriate insurance cover you need

Find out more here

Beginner paddle board tip #6: Start on your knees

When you first get on the board, it’s a good idea to start on your knees. This will help you get a feel for the board and the paddle. Once you’re comfortable, you can stand up slowly and carefully.

It’s easier to stand up if you do a few strong paddle strokes kneeling to get the board moving and then stand up. As soon as you’re stood up, put your paddle in the water and stat paddling making sure you’re looking ahead not at your feet”


Beginner paddle board tip #7: Use the correct paddle technique

To paddle, hold the paddle with both hands, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms straight and your shoulders relaxed. Reach forward with the paddle, then pull it back through the water, keeping the blade parallel to the board.

Beginner paddle board tip #8: Stay balanced and trimmed

As you paddle, it’s important to keep your weight evenly distributed on the board. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Look forward, rather than down at the board.

Beginner paddle board tip #9 Stay safe

P.L.O.T your paddle. Always wear a PFD, even if you’re a strong swimmer. Always use the correct type of leash (normally a coiled leash connected to a quick release waist belt). Check the weather and water conditions before heading out. Avoid going out alone, and let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Beginner paddle board tip #10: Have fun

Paddle boarding is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise. Don’t worry too much about perfecting your technique – the most important thing is to have fun!

As one of our friends said:

“Wear a big smile! It’s about how it makes us feel, not about what tricks you can do, or how far you can paddle in what time.”