5 Mistakes Beginning Paddleboarders Make

You might be new to stand up paddleboarding, but you don’t have to look like a rookie. Here are 5 mistakes that I learned the hard way, so you don’t have to.

Holding the paddle backwards

I honestly did not know I was guilty of holding my paddle incorrectly for an embarrassingly long time—whoops! The paddle should angle away from you.  General rule is the design on your paddle should face forward.

Any design on the paddle should face forward and enter the water vertically.

Can you still enjoy yourself if you hold your paddle backwards? Of course—I am proof of that—but your strokes will be less efficient.

Not hydrating often enough

I drink significantly less water when I am surrounded on all sides by it.  Since I drink more water when my bottle is in my line of sight, I use a carabiner to secure my water bottle secured to the deck bungees.  I’m a Nalgene fangirl but my water definitely warms up after hours of paddling on a sunny day.

Keep hydrated while paddleboarding
Bring a Nalgene (or similar water bottle) with you on the paddleboard

Try filling a Hydroflask container (or whichever brand you prefer) with both ice and water before you head out. If dealing with a bottle on a paddleboard seems like a hassle to you, consider wearing a hydration pack such as a Camelbak or an Osprey.  I always drink water more consistently when the hydration hose is mere inches from my mouth.

Stressing over the “stand” part of Stand Up Paddleboarding

I have several friends who decided they disliked paddleboarding because they didn’t immediately feel comfortable standing on their first outing.  Even after countless outings I still let the water conditions and my stability on the board dictate the stance I take. Calm, sunny day? I stand. Extra windy on an early winter paddle? I kneel.  Recovering from a leg/ankle/foot injury? I sit.

This adventure is about you and your experience— don’t feel pressured to stand if you are uncomfortable or aren’t ready yet.  On almost every paddle I enjoy what I call “lake hammock”—lying on the board on my back.

relaxing on the paddleboard
Don’t be afraid to kneel (or lay) on the paddleboard.

Avoiding the water (on warm days)

Sometimes while paddleboarding you find yourself in the water by accident.  On a warm day in calm conditions, practice falling in while holding onto your paddle and then maneuvering to get back on your board. Falling in accidentally can be jarring so create a plan and process that works for you and then build muscle memory.

Forgetting the non-negotiables

You should always wear a leash and have a PFD (personal flotation device) on your board, if not on your body.  Wear the leash on your ankle or just under your knee depending on your personal preference.

Paddleboard Leash
Make sure to always have a personal flotation device (PFD) and leash

Renting a board?  Your rental should always come with a leash and a PFD.  If it doesn’t, ask the shop. Although it would be a hassle, consider renting a board from somewhere else if they aren’t willing to supply the necessary safety equipment.  

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