I've been stand up paddle boarding for YEARS to the point that I feel like a pro. It took many attempts and lots of practice to reach my level of comfort. It's really all about getting used to the dynamics of the board and how your body feels on it. Keep in mind everyone's different. Some people don't take to SUP or think it's boring. I think it can be an exciting and super intense workout depending on your path, wind and the turbulence of the water.
My experience with SUP has been different in every location where I've jumped on a board--from calm to choppy waters. It's one of my favorite workouts because once you get the hang of it, you can relax and enjoy the view in a way you can't with other sports.
Here are my 5 Top Tips for SUP
1. Watch and get a sense of the ocean or whatever body of water you’re about to enter. Rough waters can be really tricky if you’re new to SUP. They can also be really fun! Like paddling on the Hudson River, which is ridiculous with all the wake created by boats constantly passing you. The important part of SUP is getting your bearings and learning how to find your balance and use your space wisely on the board. It’s best to start with calm waters so you can gain your confidence. Don’t get me wrong, falling off your board is fun too! But it can “wipe out” your confidence and excitement for the sport if you’re unable to stay on long enough to enjoy a proper paddling experience and, of course, the view!
2. Know how to hold your paddle and how to sweep away and inward to move forward, turn and go backwards. This video below sums it up well.
3. Your board should be relative to your height and size. The taller you are, the longer your SUP board should be. In my opinion, it should also be a bit wider because taller people tend to have a tougher time finding their balance and getting comfortable compared to someone smaller. I can’t really explain this other than sharing my personal experience. I’ve gone SUP-ing many times with friends that are tall and they always struggle. I don’t know whether it’s from fear of their height creating a longer distance for a fall into the water or because it requires more engagement of their core muscles to keep the board stable. But I do know that it’s more challenging for taller people to find their balance as beginners. I recommend a wide board for tall folks to enhance their beginner experience.
4. Sunscreen couldn't be more important while stand up paddle boarding! You're on top of the water with the sun beating down on you and then the water below you is reflecting the sunlight back up at you. You WILL burn badly if you don't use a strong SPF all over your body and face. I personally love these 3 brands of sunscreen for SUP: Coola SPF30 Body Spray in Piña Colada scent, ISDIN's SPF50 Eryfotona Actinica (a super light and non-greasy zinc based lotion for the face, chest and shoulders) and Pharmagel Sun Therapé SPF35 (a thicker lotion that I like using on my lower body where I wouldn't mind a bit more of tan).
5. Wear swimwear that won't fall off easily. Anything that's too sexy or reveals more than it covers is a hard NO. Your swimwear should fit in such a way that allows your body to shift around without you feeling insecure. You're extending your ams as you paddle and there's always the chance of a fall. Itty bitty string bikinis and super short men’s trunks are not good for SUP because they doesn’t ensure comfort or coverage. I recommend rash guards for ladies because it's easy to pull over a string bikini and gives you an added layer of warmth and sun protection. I also like wearing a cute boy short. The one I'm wearing in the pic below is from Trina Turk.
BONUS TIP: Relax and enjoy the view. This is the one sport that gives you the feeling of gliding over water as if you're walking or running on top of it. It’s an incredible feeling and it’s best experienced if you relax and don’t let your muscles tense up too much. Go slow if you have to. Take in the breathtaking views. With a positive spirit and love for nature, not much can go wrong.