My First Time on a Stand-Up-Paddleboard... #FAIL

Hey Guys!!

The month of June has been CRAZY. I went on a trip to Orlando and Tampa with a few friends then came home to re-pack and head to my favorite place in the world... Sanibel Island. While on my island getaway I tried paddleboarding for the first time, totally expecting to fall a bunch of times. And yup, I definitely did. Read on for some embarrassing epic fails and a few tips I learned along the way!
First time SUP
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One of my many goals for 2019 was to learn how to paddleboard. So last week, a couple days before my trip to Sanibel, I messaged @marissa_wil to see if we could meet up while I'm there. She offered to bring her paddleboard to the beach and teach me how to SUP! (Aka Stand-Up-Paddleboard.)

Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal. It was pretty windy, with strong tides and rough waves. Which made it extra hard to balance and paddle against the current. But, based on the people I spoke to when I got back on the sand, it made for some hilarious falls and fails.

Beach Paddleboarding
Falling off Paddleboard

I started off paddling on my knees, to get past the white-capped waves and aim for the deeper water. (I chose an extra difficult day to learn!) It took a while before I was able to stand up without falling. And this is definitely a sport that takes a ton of practice!


Eventually, on my last run, I figured out how to properly balance and gained a bit of confidence on the board.

Stand Up Paddleboard

Although I included some photos from my morning of paddling, the best way to see it in action is through video! So I put together some clips from my first day and posted it on my Firework account. You can watch the video I made here!

Stand UP Paddleboarding TIPS

I am in no way a professional... but these are tips and tricks I learned in my two days of learning to SUP.

-Make sure you are centered on the board. (There's usually a handle in the center, so you want to position your feet on both sides of it.)

-Start off on your knees. Then once you feel balanced enough, slide one foot forward at a time, placing it where your knees were.

-Don't keep your legs perfectly straight. They should have a slight bend to them. Doing so will keep your balance more grounded and should be easier to steady yourself.

-I found the best way for me to keep my balance was to position my feet at hip distance apart or a little bit wider. But it varies from person to person. Try adjusting your stance and practice it a bunch of times to find your center of gravity!

-The bottom end of the paddle, aka blade, has an angle to it, and should always be pointed forward. Make sure the whole blade is in the water as you pull it back. 

-If you're paddling on the right side, your left hand should be holding the top of the paddle, with your right hand lower down on the pole. This will make you turn left. Then when you paddle on the left side, your right hand should hold the top, as your left hand is lower down on the pole. This will make you turn right.

-To head straight, row the paddle in a straight line, front to back, alongside the board. (But don't let it scratch the side. There should be a little bit of space between the paddle and edge of the board.) Make sure you switch sides after a few strokes, or else you'll keep turning!

-If you need to make a sharp and fast turn, use the paddle to draw a "C" on one side. Starting at the front end, make a loop away from the board, then curve back towards the back end.

-To slow down or brake, hold the blade in the water slightly behind you on one side.

-Try not to flail your arms while trying to keep steady. Instead, use the paddle in the water as a way to find your balance. Or bend your knees a bit more.

-I would definitely try to learn on a calmer ocean day, in a canal, or bay area where there are little wind and much fewer waves. I'm sure you'll have a much easier time learning than I did!

-Wear a life vest! States and countries have different laws about wearing life vests while paddling. I suggest doing a quick Google search before heading out. (I'm a confident swimmer, so I just had it tied onto the back of the paddleboard with me.) Better to be safe than sorry!

-If you lose your balance and feel yourself falling, don't fall forward! You want to jump off to the side or back. The board is hard, and it definitely hurts if you come down on it.

-Always wear a leash on your ankle and attach it to the back of the board. That way it stays near you when you slip, and you don't have to swim far after it.

-Hold on to the paddle! Without it, it will be really hard to get back to shore.

-Don't let the fear of falling, keep you from standing up. Falling really isn't that bad. It's actually quite refreshing on a hot day! If you fall, just climb back on and try again.

-Wear a waterproof watch! There's a good chance you won't have your phone with you when you paddleboard. (You definitely don't want it getting wet!) And places that allow you to rent paddleboards usually have a time limit. So I suggest getting a watch from Freestyle so you can keep track of the time or tides. (You can use my discount code "Mermaid-10" 😉)

Waterproof Watch

Like with anything else, practice makes perfect! Now that I've tried it a couple times, I'm excited to give it another go and become better at it.


@marissa_wil let me use her Seafoam Glider paddleboard from Flying Fish Board Co. This style is for recreational use, as a regular casual cruise or SUP yoga session. And has some super handy bungee ties on the front and back of the board. (Great for tying down any essentials! Just make sure anything you take with you is waterproof, or in an airtight case.)
Flying Fish Paddle Board

Be sure to check out the video I put together of my morning SUP lesson that highlights some of my falls! It's a much better representation of my morning than a few photos.

Have you tried stand-up paddleboarding before? I'd love any tips you have! Feel free to comment them down below or message me on Instagram.


Stand Up Paddleboard

Items used in this post:
To get the POV in the photos above, I used the Suction Cup Mount with my GoPro in a Vertical Frame. It gave the best perspective of my SUP session, and captured the coolest moments!
Posed photos on the beach taken by @anagarciaphoto.
Bracelets by 4ocean.
Waterproof Freestyle watch in Aloha Paradise Green.
The paddleboard is the Seafoam Glider from Flying Fish Board Co.


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