Paddle boarding is becoming increasingly popular as a recreational sport and has a good reputation for improving your physical health and even your mental health. If you want to give it a try, here is how to get started paddle boarding.
Try it out
Don’t go and buy the first board you see, give paddle boarding a go first and see if it’s right for you. Here are some ways you might be able to try paddle boarding without buying your own board.
- Have a go on a friend’s board
- Rent a board from a shop
- Get a lesson
- Demo a board
Make paddle boarding friends
Paddle boarding is more fun with company, plus paddle boarders tend to be friendly people and you will find a wealth of knowledge and experience out there willing to help. You just need to be friendly, show and interest and ask.
- Join paddle boarding groups on Facebook
- Local board shops may organise group paddle boarding sessions or meet ups
- Talk to people you see in your area with paddle boards
- Talk to the people who work in shops where paddle boards are sold
- Take a group lesson
- Participate in a paddle boarding event / fun race
- Try a paddle board yoga class
What are your options?
People paddle board in a range of conditions from flat water in the ocean and lakes through to surfing large waves. There are recreational flat water boards, racing flat water boards, surf specific paddle boards and mixed use hybrid boards. There are even inflatable boards for ease of transport and durability.
- Recreational board
- Race board
- Surf paddle board
- All round board
- Fishing paddle board
- Yoga paddle board
You may already know you only want to do flat water paddling, that you want to use it for paddle board yoga, or that you are only going to be interested in surfing. If you already have your direction it is still advisable to try a range of paddle boards before trying to buy one for yourself.
If you think you might enjoy both surf and flat water, but aren’t ready to invest in multiple function specific paddle boards then buy a all round board which can handle both surf and flat water paddling.
If you are concerned about the size of a paddle board, consider an inflatable one.
Buy your own gear
If you enjoy paddle boarding you are going to want to buy your own gear eventually. Here are some options for getting your own paddle board.
- Buy new
- Buy used
Buying new is safer as you get a warranty, while buying used will save you money.
You can find used boards on:
- auction sites (trademe / eBay)
- Facebook buy and sell groups
- Paddle board retail stores often have ex demo and used boards for sale also
When buying used it is advisable to look at it in person first, checking for any signs of damage including dents, scratches, cracks, pressure dings and delamitation. If you’re inexperienced at buying boards you should avoid with any damage which could have allowed water to penetrate into the paddle board like cracks.
Remember, along with a board you also need a paddle, a leash (advisable so you don’t lose it in waves) and optionally a board bag to protect it while in storage and transport. Particularly on higher end paddle boards you may even need to decide what kind of fin you want.
It takes some practice to get your balance on a paddle board, but keep at it and it will get easier and more enjoyable with every paddle session.
- Start on your knees, should width apart on either side of the handle hold (board centre of balance)
- Paddle to get some forwards momentum
- Stand up by laying your paddle across the board in front of your knees and slowly getting up on one foot then the other (when you are more comfortable you will hop up evenly on to both your feet simultaneously)
- Place your feet where your knees were, shoulder width apart on either side of the hand hold
- Keep your knees slightly bent, your eyes looking forwards to the horizon or the front of the board and your torso upright
- Paddle with your arms shoulder width or slightly wider apart, one hand on the shaft and the other on the top of the paddle
- Keep your bottom arm mostly straight and reach forwards, dip the blade fully into the water and pull backwards along the board
- Try to focus on using your torso and back muscles rather than your arm muscles
- To turn, do a wider paddle stroke further away from the side of the board
- To turn faster, paddle backwards along the side of the board you wish to turn towards
The most important part, taking action and getting on a paddle board! Your turn.