In an earlier post I mentioned the high vibes garnered from engaging in board sports. Paddle board adventures have provided some of the most memorable moments I have experienced in my journey thus far. Paddle adventures can be accomplished solo or in a group. Your success in this activity will rely on you executing one concept consistently and that concept is all kinds of simple.
You control the board. The board does not control you.
Captain of the Board
Sup paddle boarding requires you to balance. It requires you to become aware of your body, your position in space and your centre of gravity. Paddle boards are a pretty big thing, both in popularity and actual size. This activity requires you to have some confidence in your stance and an ability to balance. I have seen people get on boards and the board gets out from underneath them and they are in the water pretty fast. It’s been my experience that in order to succeed you need to go into this activity with the mindset that you are captain of the board and it is an extension of yourself of which you have full governance and control. The ocean will behave as it so pleases, so when you are in nature’s playground, this is where you will find your empowerment – in the control of yourself and your vessel.
My recommendation to the newbies for this good vibe activity is to get a run through beach side by an experienced paddle boarder and get a feel for your body interacting with the board on dry land. The purpose this would serve is just to get the feels for how you relate to the board and having a warm up preview of how to move your limbs in space in an efficient manner to get from a kneeling position to a standing position. Muscle memory and mental rehearsal are great tools to use when you are trying out a new sport/activity. The more you feel and understand the weight, width and length of your board, the more control you will feel when it’s time to ride.
Time to Float
Once you have had an orientation with your board and your bod on shore, it’s time to float.
Here are 10 steps you can follow to get you successfully up on your board and getting you well on your way to adventure paddle boarding.
Step 1: Placing the fin down in the water, get your board in the water and stand on the right or left side of the board (whatever feels the most natural) at a knee-deep depth.
Step 2: Your paddle can lie flat on top of the board down the vertical centre of the board or horizontally in the middle (usually where the handle is should your type of board have one.) Some people suggest and prefer the horizontal orientation but I prefer it to be vertical, as it is just easier for me to navigate because it rests as if part of the board rather than a pendulum hanging over the sides when horizontal – the logic being that it is in ready position to be lifted as you stand, but I have my balance and technique dialed in to my preferences where I lay it vertical and then crouch to pull it vertically and upwards through my leg stance. As you get used to the vibe of being on a paddle board, you can decide what works and feels right for you!
Step 3: Place each of your hands on either side of the board to grip it. You will do this at the centre point of the board and the grip of your hands will assist you in keeping you body balanced. Lift up the knee closest to the board and pull the board towards you to designate the landing of your knee near the very middle of the board. Paddle boards that have handles indented in them are right at the centre so in and around this area is a good spot to aim for should you have one.
Step 4: Adjust your weight and bear it down evenly on the board, enabling you to lift you other knee out of the water to join you other one distributing you weight evenly atop the board. Try to visualize an imaginary line that runs vertically down the board (where my paddle would be laying) and place you knees on either side of this line. At this stage of the steps you should be kneeling with enough stability to be able to elevate your upper body so you are on the board by support of your knees only and your arms and hands resting effortlessly to your side. If you flail in this step and land ass backwards in the water, then have a laugh and despair not. This is part of learning and you are firing and wiring new neural networks. This in itself is a success.
Step 5: Now that you are kneeling let’s go ahead and grab the paddle and have a little motion in the ocean exploratory check it out with our paddle abilities thus far. Depending on how you have your paddle oriented in space, this is now the time to grab it either by pulling it forwards through you legs (from vertical orientation) or leaning down and lifting it upwards (from horizontal orientation) You will put one hand on the handle at the top and the other hand arms distance away to grip it at the middle.
Step 6: Now that you have the paddle in you hands and are still maintaining your balance, paddle a few strokes on either side of the board and begin to engage in some good paddling to get a feel for how this is going to roll. Keep your core tight and your back straight. Posture plays a role here, so be mindful of it. After you have covered some distance comfortably on your knees and are feeling those good confidant vibes, now we can entertain the idea of standing up.
Step 7: Stop your test paddling and lay you paddle across your board so you can access the sides of the boards to hold onto with your hands. If you have balance and confidence dialed in then you can retain the paddle in one hand. If you are still a little shaky, then lay the paddle down and grip the sides of you board with both your hands. You are going to lift one leg from bearing on the knee to now putting the weight in your foot.
Step 8: Squat stance is a good idea here to keep you in command of your centre of gravity (closer to the board) as you organize the paddle into your hands and then can stand up and rise in a momentum and speed you are comfortable to do so. Now that your feet are on the board grip the board itself with you foot pads. Getting comfortable with the anatomy of your lower extremities is advantageous to feeling grounded and maintaining your control.
Step 9: Stand on up. I have seen people get this right away and then I have seen people who lose balance and take a few dips in the water but in all of those circumstances I have seen them master their own balance and have the time of their lives. Falling in the water to learn to navigate this activity comes with the territory, but that in itself is quite funny so enjoy the water if it does happen in you experience.
Step 10: Give’er! Start a paddling! The fins of paddles vary quite a bit these days, so just ensure that whatever paddle you are using, it is in the correct positioning in the water as this will affect you speed and agility. If you need to turn the board you can do so with greater ease by creating a large stroke away from the board and if you want to go fast and hard, the closest to the board you paddle is and deep long strokes. Step 10 sounds kinda dirty…haha.
And again, we are maintaining and implementing the knowledge and concept that you are in control of the board, and not the other way around. See above for some sketch visuals of the above steps and please feel free to ask any questions below should you have any!