Maybe your training plans went by the wayside or maybe wet weather kept you from practicing on your board, but the summer has begun and you want to get out and enjoy the water on your paddleboard. So what exactly can you do to shortcut your way to looking like a pro?
While practice and experience will surely make you a pro in no time, we’ve gathered the essential skills you need to focus on now so you can work your board like a pro this summer. Whether you take your inflatable SUP board to the ocean, river, or lake near you, this post helps get you ready to take on the water and the summer weather.
Essential Skills to Look Experienced on a Paddleboard
You may feel overwhelmed with getting on your board and looking like you have the hang of it, but you can do it. Plus, you’ve got some great summer months to get in a lot of practice. So focus on these essentials skills to skip to the head of the class:
- Proper stance: Everyone falls off their board at one time or another. So don’t be afraid to fall. Getting the proper stance is all about confidence and core. Stand with a confident and balanced posture on the paddleboard. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, parallel to the stringer (center line) of the board. Maintain a slight bend in your knees and engage your core for stability.
- Paddle technique: Once you have the proper stance down, your fear of falling may come back as you move to paddle. For some, this causes them to use short, shallow, uneven strokes that impact their balance and stability on the board. Again, engage your core and confidence here. Use fluid and controlled paddle strokes. Reach forward with your top hand, submerge the paddle blade fully, and pull it backward in a smooth and efficient motion. Keep your arms straight and use your core and upper body to generate power, rather than relying solely on your arms.
- Balance and stability: Maintain good balance on the paddleboard by keeping your weight evenly distributed and centered. Avoid sudden movements or shifts that may destabilize the board. Use small adjustments in your body position and weight distribution to stay balanced, especially when encountering waves or choppy water.
- Core work: Have you noticed a theme? Your core can make or break your experience on the paddleboard. So, while technically not a water skill—although paddleboarding will indeed work your core—doing some core work on land and building core strength can only help your stability and movement on the board.
- Eyes on the horizon: While paddling, keep your eyes focused on the horizon or where you want to go, rather than looking down at your feet or the board.
- Smooth transitions: Practice smooth transitions when changing direction or turning. Use a combination of paddling on one side and making slight adjustments to your body position to smoothly guide the board in the desired direction. Avoid abrupt turns or paddle splashes that may indicate a lack of control.
- Buy a quality inflatable SUP: Nothing can deter your efforts more than a subpar board. So be sure to find a quality paddleboard in a size that works best for your needs.
Remember, experience on a paddleboard comes with practice and time spent on the water. Building a foundation of skills, improving your balance, and developing paddle techniques will help you appear more experienced. Above all, just enjoy the process of learning and progressing in your paddleboarding journey, and let your confidence and skills shine through!
Summer Paddleboarding Tips
Summer presents some unique challenges when paddleboarding. Follow these summer tips to make the most of your paddleboarding experience:
- Stay hydrated. Hydration is key during hot summer days. Bring plenty of water with you on your paddleboarding adventure and take regular sips to stay hydrated. Consider using a hydration pack or a water-resistant pouch to keep your water bottle easily accessible while on the water.
- Wear sun protection. Protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF rating. Apply it generously to exposed skin before you start paddling and reapply as needed. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with UV protection, and lightweight, breathable clothing to shield yourself from the sun.
- Time your sessions. Plan your paddleboarding sessions during cooler times of the day, such as early mornings or evenings, to avoid the peak heat. This not only provides a more comfortable experience but also allows you to enjoy calmer water conditions.
- Dress appropriately. Choose lightweight, quick-drying clothing for your paddleboarding outings. Breathable fabrics that wick away moisture can keep you cool and comfortable. Consider wearing a bathing suit that allows for freedom of movement.
- Be mindful of heat exhaustion. Be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and take necessary precautions. If you start feeling excessively fatigued or dizzy or experience muscle cramps, seek shade, rest, and hydrate immediately. Take breaks as needed and listen to your body's signals.
- Consider your feet. Hot sand or rough surfaces can be uncomfortable to walk on, so consider wearing water shoes or sandals with a good grip while launching and landing your paddleboard. They will protect your feet from sharp objects and provide traction on slippery surfaces.
- Stay safe. Always use your leash, and if you’re alone, let someone know your paddleboarding plans as well as your estimated time of return.
- Explore new spots. Take advantage of the summer weather to explore new paddleboarding destinations. Discover nearby lakes, rivers, or coastal areas that offer scenic views and refreshing waters. Research the location beforehand to ensure it is suitable for paddleboarding.
- Share the fun. Paddleboarding is a great activity to enjoy with family and friends. Invite loved ones to join you on the water and share the experience together. It can be a fun way to bond, create lasting memories, and encourage others to try paddleboarding.
- Respect the environment. Practice Leave No Trace principles while paddleboarding. Respect the natural environment by not littering, avoiding disturbing wildlife, and paddling responsibly. Be mindful of any sensitive ecosystems or protected areas and follow guidelines for their preservation.
Using your inflatable SUP board is fun, and while you can paddleboard year-round, summer gives you a lot of time and great weather to practice your skills. So focus on the essential skills you need to get out on the water and enjoy your paddleboard all summer long.