Here are ten useful tips to practice SUP, which will help you avoid the most common mistakes that beginners make, so you can enjoy this sport a lot more.
1. Row with your body
A common mistake is to try paddle using only the arms, but the SUP is a complete sport and you must use a torso movement to accompany the arms. If you only use your arms to propel, you will quickly notice discomfort in your shoulders and elbows. Remember, in each stroke you must notice how the muscles of the chest, abdomen and legs are working in the same direction as the arms.
2. Don’t try to stay balanced using only your legs
When practicing paddle surf, your feet must be slightly apart, in a straight line with your shoulders. Once you are in position, use your legs to stay standing and to assist the global movement of the stroke, but you should keep balanced with your entire body. If you start moving your feet, you’re lost: the board will be unbalanced and you will fall.
3. Look toward the horizon
As we have already mentioned, the correct position is in the center of the board, with your feet apart and your body straight. You must keep your eyes on the horizon, this will help you acquire a correct corporal position. If you look at your feet, or the water around us, the body tends to curl, you’ll lose verticality and fall down.
4. Keep your hands apart
A common mistake among beginners is to keep your hands too close to each other when gripping the oar, which greatly affects the quality of the rowing. The correct position of the hands is one in the handle of the oar and the other one at the middle of the pole.
5. Submerge the oar completely
To achieve an effective rowing, we must stretch both arms and completely submerge the oar into the water, then with a global movement of the body we put our arms together, always with the oar completely underwater. This is the most effective way to propel, if you do not sink the oar completely the effort will be almost the same but the movement of the board will not be optimal.
The rowing movement, as I have mentioned, should start with open arms and should end when the oar reaches the level of our feet. Once you’ve reached that level, it is time to take the oar completely out of the water and stretch your arms again for a new paddle. To maintain a straight path of the rowing movements towards your most natural side, left of the board if you are right handed and vice versa, must be combined with paddling across the board to maintain the desired direction.
7. Stay away from other surfers
While it is a fun experience to do group excursions, you should consider keeping some distance from the other rowers and their boards, the sea is big enough. Beginner’s boards are usually larger, to provide stability, they’re hard and heavy, and at sea it is difficult to quickly stop any vehicle, so you must avoid possible collisions with other boards.
8. Use a safety leash
If you’re not wearing a life jacket, use a leash to keep you from getting away from the board in case of falling. The sea is large and sometimes treacherous, and you never know what an excursion will bring. Using a leash tied to your leg and the board at the other end will prevent the board from drifting away and leaving us in the middle of the sea.
9. Watch out for waves and strong winds
Before practicing the sport, you must know how the sea is behaving, and make sure that you can control the board. It is not uncommon to find moderately strong winds that can produce sizable waves that will make you fall or drag you into rocky cliffs. Paddle surf boards are larger than those of surf and with strong waves you must be an expert to keep the board in balance.
10. Learn to fall
As in any sport involving balance, you'll fall, luckily -as this is a water sport- you'll fall in the water. However you must learn to fall, if you fall too close to the board you can hit it, and we have already said they are hard. The falls are inevitable, so we recommend you to learn how to control them.
These tips will not turn you into masters of this discipline, but we hope they’ll be useful for beginners to have a more pleasant first contact with this sport.