Building Skills at Every Level on Your Standup Paddleboard

Building Skills at Every Level on Your Standup Paddleboard

Is Paddleboarding Hard?

The difficulty level of standup paddleboarding (SUP) can vary depending on a few factors, including your level of experience, the conditions of the water, and the type of paddleboarding activity you’re doing.

Regardless of what level you’re at, however, you are heading into the perfect time of year to start building your skills.

Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or expert on your paddleboard, the more you increase your skills, the more you can do and enjoy on your board.

If you’re interested in taking your standup paddleboard to the next level, this post explains the challenges you may face and the different ways to build your paddleboarding skills.

standup paddleboard

Challenges You Face on Your Paddleboard

Even if you’re experienced on your board, you still face the challenges like any beginner because you tend to take your board to the next level, taking on bigger challenges or more challenging water.

So no matter what level you’re at, be prepared for these challenges:


One of the main challenges of standup paddleboarding is maintaining your balance on the board.

This can take some practice, especially if you are new to the sport, but if you’re performing advanced techniques or you’re out on rough water, that can throw off the balance of an expert, too.


The paddling motion requires a lot of core strength and balance to do it effectively, and if you change the water conditions or weather you’re paddling in, it can increase or decrease the difficulty level.

Weather Conditions

Obviously calm weather and water is easier than paddling in rainy weather and choppy water, so be flexible and try to adjust your outings to conditions you’re comfortable paddling in.

Every challenge you face can be mitigated by adjusting to better conditions, working out when you’re not on the paddleboard so that you develop more strength, flexibility, and balance, and practicing consistently.

Ways You Can Improve Your Skills

If you are a beginner at paddleboarding out for the first time or you’re training for an expert-level competition, there are several ways you can develop your skills and become more comfortable on all types of water.

Here are some ways you can build on your success and take your skills to the next level:

Take a lesson

Taking a lesson from a certified SUP instructor is a great way to learn the basics or develop further techniques.

An instructor can teach you how to stand on the board, hold the paddle, and navigate the water safely, but if you already have the basics down, an instructor can help you develop advanced techniques to expand your skills.

Practice in calm water

Whether you're just starting out or have learned a new skill, always take time to practice in calm, flatwater conditions.

This will help you get comfortable with the board or new skill so you can create the muscle memory you need to make it more automatic. Once you get it down, you can test your skills in different water conditions.

Practice regularly

Like any sport, the more you practice, the better you'll get. Even if you take a few lessons, get some practice between each lesson.

Lessons alone won’t build skills, but consistent practice will. So try to paddle regularly in different water and weather conditions, even if it's just for a short time each session.

Join a SUP group

Joining a SUP group or club can be a great way to connect with other paddlers, get tips and advice, and learn new skills.

Plus, you can get the encouragement you need to push yourself and keep practicing. If there are no SUP groups in your area, then create one, starting with family and friends—you don’t have to be an expert in the sport to start an interactive SUP group.

Be safe

Always wear your leash when paddleboarding, be aware of the weather and water conditions, and don't paddle in areas that are beyond your skill level.

standup paddleboard

How to Not Give Up

No matter what level you’re at, if you’re trying to get better, you can easily become discouraged, but as soon as you stop using your paddleboard, you stop getting better. So to make sure you don’t give up, you need to stay focused on your goals and the benefits of paddleboarding. Every time you think about quitting or not taking your board out for the day, remind yourself of the valuable benefits your standup paddleboard offers.

  • Effective, low-impact exercise: Standup paddleboarding is a low-impact exercise perfect for all ages and fitness levels. It can help improve balance, strengthen core muscles, and provide a full-body workout.
  • Improves cardiovascular health: In addition to a full-body workout, you can also get an effective cardiovascular workout. You can adjust your intensity no matter the water condition simply by adjusting your speed.
  • Provides stress relief: Being out on the water can be a great way to relax and reduce stress. Standup paddleboarding can help you connect with nature and enjoy the peacefulness of being on the water, and exercise itself is a natural stress reliever.
  • Exploration and adventure: Standup paddleboarding can be a great way to explore new bodies of water and see wildlife and scenery from a unique perspective. It can also be a fun way to challenge yourself and try something new. No matter where you live or where you roam, you can find a nearby body of water to explore.
  • Family-friendly: Because paddleboarding can be enjoyed by people of all ages, it can be a great activity to do with family and friends. So if you don’t find yourself improving, inject some more fun by spending time together with family and friends and creating lasting memories.
  • Versatility: Although most people think of paddleboarding as a summer sport, you can do it all year round in the right clothing in a variety of water conditions, from calm lakes to ocean water.

Developing skills on your standup paddleboard—no matter what level you’re at—requires consistent practice and patience. With time and effort and plenty of fun, you can become a confident and skilled paddler and enjoy your time on the water.

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