A Beginner's Guide: How to Paddleboard like a Pro

Pre-paddle SUP instruction on Lake Ivanhoe in Orlando

Standup Paddleboarding (SUP) has become a worldwide craze over the last decade. What used to be a means of transportation for native islanders hundreds of years ago, has become one of the most popular ways to exercise and spend time on the water today.  This article takes you through the “A-Z” of the SUP, explaining everything you need to know to get started.

Choose your board

The first thing you want to do is choose your board. You must take into account the length of the board, your weight, board performance and height. Because there are so many options out there, it’s best to consult a professional at your local SUP retailer to get a paddleboard tailored to your needs. For beginners, I suggest a 10-11 foot board, wider than 31 inches that has a flat bottom for maximum stability.

Choose your paddle

Length is the most important factor when choosing a paddle for your SUP. Generally speaking, you want your paddle to be 8-12 inches longer than you are tall. If the paddle is too short, it will strain your back. If the paddle is too long, you will tire out quickly.


Notice the slight bend in the knee, wide stance, and gentle lean forward. This first timer picked up quickly!

To paddleboard, you must be able to balance. This is the part where most people get discouraged from trying to ride a SUP. But not to worry, this part is much easier than it seems. Paddleboards are designed much like fishing boats, with flat wide bottoms that make the boards very stable and easy to balance on. Here are the SUP balance basics: 

  • Get a wide stance: The first thing you want to do when balancing on a SUP is get a wide stance. A wide stance in the middle of the board will allow you to maintain your balance and control the board much easier.

  • Bend your knees: The second step is to slightly bend your knees. By bending your knees, your body stays ready for disturbances that may cause you to lose your balance.

  • Lean forward: Leaning slightly forward allows you to stay in a stance that keeps you in balance with the board as opposed to standing straight up or leaning back. Standing straight up or leaning back can very easily cause you to lose your balance and have the board slip out from under you.

If you ever feel like you are losing your balance, remember to stay calm and gently bring yourself to your knees on the board to regain your composure.


When paddling, keep your arms completely straight. This will give you the most leverage against the water and allow you to glide with maximum efficiency. Always keep the front of your paddle perpendicular to the board. To paddle, dip your paddle as close to the front of the SUP as possible. Move your paddle back toward you in a straight motion, keeping the paddle as close to the edge of the board without touching it as possible. This stroke will propel you forward. Paddle on the right side of your board to go left and left to go right.

Take a Lesson!

This article should give you a good start in learning how to paddleboard. If you want to become a good SUP rider quickly, take a SUP lesson with Get Local.