Gazing down into the depths from atop your stand up paddle board and observing the bottom is common practise among all paddlers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re piloting inland waterways or coastal, the instinct to look down is natural.
Yet stand up paddle boarding’s biggest ‘trick’ is being able to keep your head up. There’re a few reasons for this. Firstly, you’re standing tall and have a unique vantage point over other paddle craft such as kayaks. Being able to scan the horizon as well as take in your surrounding periphery is a big plus. Keeping your head held high, however, has a far greater impact on your paddling ability.
SUP‘s health benefits are promoted far and wide. The most common term you’ll find when researching stand up is ‘core strength’. It’s your core that’ll help with moving the paddle’s blade through the water and being efficient at SUP. The easiest way to achieve a tight core, and therefore better/efficient paddle stroke, is to lift your head.
Raising your head will help elongate the top half of your body and create a better posture, naturally. ‘Breaking’ or bending at your middle may feel more stable to start with but in the long run actually isn’t and can cause unnecessary strains. With your head up, vision focused on the wider vista and a tight core, without breaking, you’ll enjoy a better, more dynamic stance and be able to cope with chop, current and general movement of water. As a knock on your confidence will increase you’ll fall less and there’ll be reduced wear and tear on your muscles and joints. Your overall enjoyment of SUP will increase in tandem.
It should also be noted that many new stand up paddlers choose to pilot their boards from their knees. Whilst this is fine for getting that initial ‘feel’ of SUP you’ll enjoy a much dryer ride, because of falling less, when standing with your head held high. It’s actually a more secure a position – even if it doesn’t feel so at first. From standing you can counterbalance (brace) with your paddle much more efficiently than on your knees. And standing will see you experience all the other benefits of being on a SUP, not least being able to see more.
So, stand up, head up and keep your core tight. Your whole SUP experience will be all the better for it.