6 Things to Know Before You Start Paddle Boarding
It is easy to get started paddleboarding, but to get a head start, there are several things that you should know before you head out for your first time
- What are the hazards?
As with any activity in life, there are bound to be some dangers. Knowing what those are will help you avoid them and decrease your risk. For paddleboarding, the two main groups are hazards associated with the weather and hazards associated with the area you are paddling in.
Weather - Either extreme, hot or cold, poses a threat to paddlers. You should dress aproperately and make sure you have potable water with you. Changing weather can also be a threat, and you should check the forecast to make sure that there asre no storms on the radar. Finally, excessive wind can also present a challenge. If there are strong winds, you should plan your paddle trip to use them in your favor and pick a direction that will not leave you stranded at the end of the day.
Area Hazards - Each body of water will have its own set of hazards. Before you start paddling, research the lake or river to be aware of any bridges, downed trees, or other strainers, dams, steep banks, or boating lanes. Wildlife can also present a threat. Make sure you can identify and avoid any dangerous animals, such as snakes or alligators.
2. How to use your safety equipment.
Every piece of safety equipment that you get should have a set of instructions on how to use them. Out of all of your safety equipment, a personal flotation device, or PFD, maybe the most important one. You will want to make sure that your PFD fits properly and is on correctly.
For longer, more isolated trips, you should have an emergency first aid kit and the knowledge of how to use it.
If you need further instruction, groups like the American Canoe Association, offer courses and training.
3. How to get on your board and stand up
The first step to paddleboarding is getting your board in the water. You will want to start with the front of your board pointing to the shore and the fin in the deeper part of the water. From there, you can wade out and climb onto the board. While on your knees, paddle to deeper water, where you have plenty of space in case you fall. When you are ready to stand up, begin on your hands and knees. Lift your hips into the air and walk your feet to the center of the board, shoulder width apart. In one fluid motion, stand up completely and look ahead of you. You will want to get your paddle in the water quickly as it can provide an extra point of stability.
You can find a video here.
4. How to use your paddleboard paddle
There are a few things that you will need to keep in mind with your paddle. First, make sure your hand wraps around the top of the grip. This will make sure that you can keep the paddle aligned in the water and that it will not twist with each stroke. You can tell with part of the paddle is the front by the paddle blade, which will bend slightly towards the front to help you get more power. Your hands should be spaced slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and your paddle should be close to 1 foot taller than you so that you do not need to bend too much at the waist as you paddle.
There are several different strokes that are commonly used. The first one is going to be a straight stroke, parallel to the direction that you want to travel to move the board forward. The second is a sweep stroke. This will follow a circular path around you and can be used to turn. The third is a backstroke, which enables you to turn in the opposite direction of a sweep stroke. Finally, there is also a pry stroke, which can be used to make minor adjustments at the end of a stroke.
5. Learn how to fall
It is completely normal to feel apprehensive your first time paddleboarding, but the more relaxed you are, the easier to learn and more fun paddleboarding is. The people that pick paddleboarding up the fastest are generally those that are least concerned about falling in. Fortunately, there is no need to white-knuckle your way through a paddleboarding trip.
First you need to understand that falling in is inevitable. At some point, you will fall. Once that happens, you just need to climb back on your board and keep going.
Once you accept the fact that you will fall, the next part is all about making sure that you can still enjoy the rest of the day. Make sure you are wearing clothes that you are comfortable getting wet, and don’t keep your phone or keys in your pockets. You will also want to be aware of your surroundings. Know which direction to fall in if you begin to lose your balance. In general, it is better to fall to the sides of the board as opposed to the front or back, but you will really want to avoid landing on anything hard or sharp in the water.
6. Learn how you relax and have fun
Sometimes this is easier said than done. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are going to look a little out of place your first few times paddleboarding. That is perfectly normal! Strength, coordination, balance, and skill all come with time and trying to rush that process will only rob the joy of getting out there and paddling.
There are so many different aspects of paddleboarding to love, and you can find something new to appreciate each time you go out.