1 - Stand-Up Paddleboarding is a Sport
And, though anyone can learn, it is not for everyone! Remember, you'll be in water. Probably deep water. Even though you should wear a life vest, you'll want to have strong swimming skills. Learning the basics is fast, but it may take time to learn centering and balance if Paddle Boarding is your first board sport.
2- You're going to Fall
Your safety should always be the number one factor when pursuing any sport, including stand-up paddle boarding. Understanding that falling off is part of the fun, will keep you in a positive mental state. There is a learning curve and falling is part of it. Most must first fall before they can stand-up on their feet. Keep your learning aptitude strong and you'll do well, fast!
3- There's No Difference Between Women, Men & Kids (well, almost no difference)
Though Stand-Up Paddle boarding uses mostly your core muscle groups (i.e, abs, sides, back, upper thighs), it's more about finding your center balance. Strength has very little to do with SUP'ing.
We've found women and girls have a faster learning curve than most guys. In our studies, we've nailed it down to finesse, center of gravity, and study skills. Physically, girls naturally have a lower gravity center. And, they tend to have more finesse and balance. Since SUP is more about being "centered", they do well by not muscling their body around. Their natural physique helps increases their ability to sustain rides. And, when we teach them something....they usually listen and absorb what's being taught than most guys.
Fuse your skills with other sports!
Stand-Up Paddle Boarding is a fusion of surfing, kayaking, boating and canoeing. If your athletic background harvests in one of these areas, you'll find SUP'ing offers a lot skill familiarity, as well at some incredibly new feellings. Here's a few tips for those crossing over from:
- wind sports: Kiteboarders, windsurfers and sailors will love that they have an awesome sport they can do when winds are light.
- surfers: Surfers will love riding more waves. On an SUP, you can surf waves as small as ankle high. Perfect for most East Coast areas. Plus, when the waves are larger, you'll catch waves even before the long-boarders. The best thing is, since you're standing-up, you can really see the waves coming in.
You absolutely DO NOT NEED to have a background in any of these sports.
- kayakers, canoers & boaters: Even though it's paddle power, you're technically on a small watercraft. It takes the same skills to maneuver a paddle board as it does any motorized or non-motorized boat. It's just you're own personal mini-craft.
Since it's considered a watercraft, the US Coast Guard has ruled that any Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) used outside of the "surf zone" is considered a watercraft. As such when in flatwater streams, lakes, rivers, bays, etc. you must have a USCG approved Life Preserver (PFD) onboard your SUP for each passenger. This "Rule" is being enforced by State and Local authorities nation wide as well. If you do not have PFDs on board you are subject to fine. Additionally, ALWAYS WEAR A PFD WHEN IN OR AROUND THE WATER ESPECIALLY WHEN SURFING OR SUPING.
In fact, we often find students without strong board sports experience have LESS to unlearn. However, those with pro-riding skills often have stronger learning aptitudes and the desire to push forward. Some of the best Paddle Boarders have never stepped foot on a board or boat. It really comes down to passion, desire and commitment levels.
how do you know if you're a n SUP Candidate?
what it takes to get going . . .
athletic ability While Stand-Up Paddle Boarding is not a physically intensive sport once proper skills are learned, you do need to be in good shape, especially in the water. Those with more of a cross-trainer look on life do best. Various surfing and paddle skills definitely help. Those with surfing backgrounds tend to excel faster. . . and women, well, they are the quickest learners (according to stats). Once basics are learned, it's more about Zen than anything. SUP's is core exercise, offering you hours of sustained exercise with deep breathing. For training, focus on carido, yoga balance, plyometrics and core (i.e. abs) exercises.
Learning Aptitude Falling is part of the learning process and will happen at all levels. However, learning both physical and mental CRASH CONTROL is an essential part to progressing quickly. If, when you fall, you get right back to your feet and give it another shot, you'll do well.
Body Weight While SUP's are getting smaller and more efficient, the lighter you are, the smaller the board you can use. Smaller boards are easier to manage (i.e. loading on your car racks), and turn better in the surf.
Age Doesn't Matter Air has had the pleasure of teaching students as young as 6 and as nearly young as 73. If you have the passion, you'll love Stand-Up Paddleboarding.
Proper Instruction We think Stand-Up Paddle Boarding is one of the easiest water sports to learn. In fact, most new riders catch on in less than an hour or two. Many even surf their first wave during their first day! Consider taking an SUP lesson if your new to board sports & surfing.
Good Conditions Flat water is awesome. Small clean waves with good form are incredible. Choppy waters are very tough. Wind more than 10mph is rarely fun. Current can be friend or foe. Be sure to check the near-term forecast, including tide schedules, before heading out with your SUP.
The Right Gear Board size and shape are critical. Not all "11' SUP's" are the same. Board length, width and depth can make or break your experience. As well, board shape can make it easy or difficult. Add the different construction types (i.e. soft side, fiberglass, epoxy) and there's lots of options.