Understanding technique is the basis of safe paddling in all environments. The key details are below, but if you want a more comprehensive knowledge of safe technique, the best way is to learn from an accredited instructor or school lesson.
Safety Best Practises
Adapt and develop a solid basis.
These techniques will help build a strong foundation for your paddling. They are by no means compulsory, but if you want to stay safe, this is the expert guidance.
Enter the Water
Board pointed out into water, and wind. So the board does not get caught by water or wind. Walk out to a depth of 3ft, mindful the fins do not catch on the ground.
Transition from Kneeling to Standing
Always ensure you have momentum before standing otherwise you will fall off the board.
Standing up in Shallow water
Ensure water depth is a minimum of 3 ft. Never stand up paddle in shallow water. If you fall off, you can hurt yourself, including spinal injury. Paddle on your knees until you reach a minimum depth of 3ft.
Hazards (Comprehensive Guide Here)
Stay well away from hazards, such as rocks, reef, boats, boat moorings, canal walls, weirs across canals, other water users. If you find yourself near a hazard, paddle on your knees until you clear the hazard. If you keep standing, you may fall off onto the hazard.
Exit the Water
Never stand up all the way to shore, if you fall off, you can hurt yourself. As soon as the water is less than 3ft deep, paddle on your knees, to the shore.
Make sure you know how to stop your board! Use back paddling to stop your board. To stop suddenly, also use your body weight, lower your centre of gravity.
Learn how to prone paddle your board. In case you lose your paddle, you can still lie down on your board and use your arms to paddle. Just like a surfer. Keep the board in trim where the nose and tail are flat on the water, and paddle one arm at a time.
If you continue to use wrong paddle stroke technique, you also risk injury to your body, including back strain, arm muscle strain, shoulder injury.
Falling off correctly will ensure you do not injure yourself. Fall way from the board. Do not grab the board as you fall, as you will injure your ribs. Keep hold of your paddle out to your side – you don’t want it to float way.
Paddle Stroke Guide
The key elements to paddle technique are below.
Reach — not short or over reaching (can harm arm/back)
Hinging — ensuring back and neck is in line (not bent over)
Not pulling with your bottom arm (causes arm injury)
Knees slightly bent, not bouncing up and down — causes the SUP board to slow down and potential leg/back injury
Exit paddle correctly — so you don’t over balance and fall off
Vertical paddle — to keep you going in a straight line, not meandering all over the place
Understand the 5 phases of the paddle stroke — Entry, Catch, Power Phase, Exit, Recovery: each element impacts your paddling ability and ability to control your SUP board