How do I teach myself to paddle

Learn SUP

BlogLearn SUP: learn to stand up paddling in 5 minutes (easy)

Last updated on March 16, 2021

So you want to learn SUP?

Unfortunately, that doesn't work in front of the screen. You have to get out on the water for that.

In these 5 minute SUP instructions I want to explain the basics of Stand Up Paddling to you.

Equipped with the knowledge, you can then dare to go on your own first SUP adventure yourself.

Don't worry, learning SUP is really not difficult.

You need about 5 minutes to read my article. On the water it will take 30 to 60 minutes until you have settled down to some extent.

From the second or third tour at the latest, things are going really well.

But let's get in right away. My lessons for you are:

  • SUP Instructions Step 1: The right equipment
  • SUP instructions step 2: into the water!
  • SUP instructions step 3: the right stand
  • SUP instructions step 4: the paddling technique

Learn SUP Step 1 - The right equipment

You will need the following equipment to get started:

  1. SUP board
  2. SUP paddle
  3. SUP leash
  4. Matching clothing
  5. (Life jacket)

If you're taking a class for the first tour, you probably don't have to worry about any of it.

Otherwise, you can also borrow a board and paddle. There are SUP stations all over Germany that offer such services.

Or do you want to buy a SUP board?

If so, I recommend an all-round board that is at least 80 cm wide and 320 cm long. This category of boards offers a lot of stability and is very versatile.

-> View my all-round SUP board reviews

If you already own a SUP board + paddle

With your own SUP board and your own paddle, you only have to worry about a leash and, if necessary, a life jacket.

SUP leash

A leash is a tether that attaches one end to your ankle or the other end to the board. If you fall into the water, your board is guaranteed not to swim away.

A SUP leash belongs to the absolute standard equipment for stand up paddling, because the boards can swim really quickly due to currents, wind and the initial pushing away when falling into the water.

-> View my favorite SUP leashs

Clothes for stand up paddling

And what clothes are suitable?

  • In summer, bikini and swim shorts are perfectly adequate. Just think of enough sunscreen with a high sun protection factor and, if necessary, a hat.
  • In spring and autumn, thin neoprene clothing such as a neoprene T-shirt or a long john is ideal.
  • In winter, you should dress according to the onion principle to stay warm. Dry suits or wetsuits are recommended. Pay particular attention to warm hands and feet.

-> Find out more about SUP clothing

(Life jacket)

Other websites generally recommend wearing life jackets when SUP. However, I believe that if you are an experienced swimmer and you are looking for a mirror-smooth lake for the start, the danger is relatively small.

But I don't want to make the decision for you. If you as a SUP beginner want to go on the water alone and are not entirely sure of your swimming skills, you should probably order a life jacket like the Lalizas life jacket.

Learn SUP Step 2 - Into the water!

The equipment is ready, but how do you get into the water now?

First of all, the board needs to be prepared:

  1. Open the valve on the board
  2. Put the connection of the pump on it (with a twist lock)
  3. Inflate the board. The manufacturer provides the recommended pressure on the website or in the operating instructions. In any case, this is in the range of 10 to 15 PSI.

For later: The pumps supplied are often not the yellow of the egg. A double stroke pump or an electric pump is very worthwhile in my opinion.

You can now carry the board into the water using the handles. Push the board a few meters from the bank until the water is about hip deep. Now climb onto the board and kneel down in the middle.

Lean forward, take the paddle in both hands and first paddle a little away from the bank.

Learn SUP step 3 - the right stance

Now stand up slowly. It can help to put the paddle across the board first.

At first, that will seem quite unsafe to you. That is why it is particularly advisable to start on a day that is almost without waves (waves <20 cm). With a little experience (1 or 2 tours) this initial uncertainty disappears completely.

The stand at SUP is upright. The back should be straight.

Get a little on your knees to better balance the waves in the water.

Now we can continue with the decisive last step ...

Learn SUP Step 4 - The paddling technique

Learning SUP means above all learning the paddling technique.

To paddle, you must first adopt the correct posture. With SUP you stand hip-width apart with parallel feet on the board. Feet and body are facing forward.

The paddle is held with both hands. The hand on the paddle side is at the bottom of the shaft of the paddle while the other holds the handle.

  • If you paddle right, your right hand is at the bottom of the shaft and your left hand is on the handle.
  • If you paddle on the left, the left hand is at the bottom of the shaft and the right hand is on the handle.

The upper arm is the pressure arm. This one does most of the work. The arm on the shaft of the paddle is called the pull arm. Ideally, you only guide the paddle with this arm. But the power comes from the upper arm.

Dive the paddle as far forward as possible and pull the paddle no more than the height of your feet. This is the fastest way to get ahead.

For paddling, use not only the strength from your arms but also your upper body.

As you can see in the picture, the pressure arm is almost straight. It's not that easy to implement right from the start. Try to remember this again and again on the first tours.

In which direction is the paddle pointing?

Choosing the right side of the paddle blade is a bit unintuitive.

Paddle blades are often inclined. When paddling, the sloping side must point away from you. The paddle is not supposed to be a shovel with which you can get as much water as possible, but a tool with which you can move yourself effectively.


Well, the 5 minutes are up.

I hope you have learned something about SUP and wish you a lot of fun on your first own SUP adventure!

This is also explained very well in this video:


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