Get wet! – flat water SUP freestyle progression and fun.

When you’ve expended all the flat water route options you can think of, or if you fancy spicing up your stand up paddling, it’s time to look at ways of improving whilst still having fun. If you can learn even more about your SUP board and how it behaves, whilst intuitively develop paddle strokes and balance then all the better.

One way to achieve all the above is dabble with some flat water SUP freestyle. Pretty much SUP freestyle means doing all sorts of creative things atop your stand up paddle board and getting wet, as you will take a dunking! Here’re a few SUP freestyle moves (and additional tips to help make them achievable) to impress your mates with.

Flat water SUP pop shuvit.

The flat water SUP pop shuvit is more or less an extension of the tail sink pivot turn – a fundamental skill for all stand up paddlers. Once you can effectively dip teh tail, rasie the board’s nose and sweep round in a 180 or 360 degree arc it’s time to add the SUP pop shuvit.

Pop shuvits are skateboard derived where the boards gets airborne. With the stand up paddle version it’s not as extreme. The board stays planted well and truly to the water. In simple terms you’re aiming to rotate the board 180, via a tail sink pivot, switch your stance mid way through and end up perched on the SUP’s nose with the tail facing forwards in your direction of travel.

Sink the board’s tail and add a wide pivot paddle stroke.

Start off by sinking the tail slightly as if you were going to perform a pivot turn. Sweep your paddle wide to initiate the circling arc. As the board’s nose start to come round 180 switch your feet by rotating your back leg onto the nose. Pay attention to keep over the board’s centre line. Keep your head up and carry swap side your paddle, carrying on with the sweep aiming to bring the tail round to the original direction of travel. From here you should be driving your board tail first.

As the board spins 180* switch your feet and drive the board tail first. Step back for added spice.

Next steps on from this are either spin round and face the nose once again paddling how the board was designed. Or alternatively, carry on for the full 360. Practicing this move in shallow water will inspire confidence and the more nimble you are on your feet the higher success rate. Use your paddle as much as possible as this gives you momentum which increases stability.

The flat water SUP pop shuvit is probably the most convoluted move when trying to explain what’s going on. As with everything though practice makes perfect.

One footed SUP tail sink.

A moderately tricky move the one footed SUP tail sink, whereby you push the board’s tail under the water’s surface, raise the nose and then lift one foot up in the air you can still achieve it with time. As you get better you can take your board into deeper water and see how high you can raise the SUP’s nose. You’re going to get wet doing this one for sure! But it’s super fun…

One footed SUP tail sink – easier in shallow water!

To get a feel for the one footed SUP tail sink, and cheat a little, try this maneuver in shallow water. Ideally have a soft fin in your board as you’ll ground it out initially using the dug in fin to add balance. A high end carbon type will get all chunked up.

Hang five/hang ten.

Walking the plank is a sure fire way of getting to know your stand up paddle board. Edging towards the nose of your SUP and aiming to get five toes over, as a longboard surfer would, is good practise. IF you can get five tootsies there then try the full ten. A simple cheat for this move is finding a ledge just beneath the water’s surface. You can rest the board’s nose on this with the rear sticking out into deeper brine.

5 on the nose, easier than 10…

As you move towards the nose the board will become progressively tippier, even when touching the bottom. So it’s a maneuver that still helps you up those balance skills regardless of the cheat.

Hanging ten, with a little help from a seabed ledge.

Upside down paddling.

Flipping your stand up paddle board over onto is hull and paddling standing on the wrong side is another fun move. The board’s hull will be very slippy so watch you don’t fall on the fin! As you get better at this you can edge towards the nose, thereby lifting the tail and piloting your SUP backward.

One footed, upside down backward SUP paddling.

And if you really want to up the ante with this then try it on one foot!

SUP freestyle general tips.

  • Wear a buoyancy aid if you’re a SUP freestyle beginner. This’ll serve as an impact protection jacket should you take a tumble onto your board. Also, for some of these moves you need to be leashless so a BA will inspire confidence.
  • Ideally choose the flattest, shallowest water possible for trying these tricks. Don’t go out in adverse weather/conditions.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the weather on hand. You’re going to take a few dunkings so perhaps a wetsuit is best.
  • If you start to tire then take a breather.
  • Practice flat water SUP freestyle as part of group. You’ll have a lot more fun that way.
  • A shorter, more maneuverable SUP like the McConks Go Free does make things like flat water SUP freestyle easier but you can do it on any stand up paddle board.

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