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So you want to learn paddling?

Unfortunately, you can’t do that in front of the screen. You have to get out on the water.

In this 5 minute paddling tutorial I will explain the basics of paddle boarding.

Equipped with the knowledge you can then venture out on your own first paddle board adventure.

Don’t worry, learning paddling is really not difficult.

My article will take you about 5 minutes to read. On the water it will take you 30 to 60 minutes to get the hang of it.

By the second or third tour at the latest, you’ll be doing really well.

But let’s get right into it. My lessons for you are:

  • Paddling Instruction Step 1: The right equipment
  • Paddling Instruction Step 2: Get in the water!
  • Paddling Instruction Step 3: The right stance
  • Paddling instruction step 4: The paddling technique

Learn Paddling Step 1 – The Right Equipment

To get started you will need the following equipment:

If you are taking a course for your first trip, you probably don’t need to worry about any of this.

Otherwise you can rent a board and paddle. There are paddling stations all over the world that offer such services.

Or do you want to buy a paddle board?

If so, I advise you to buy an allround board that is at least 80 cm wide and 320 cm long. This category of boards offers a lot of stability and is versatile.

> See my Allround paddle Board Reviews

If you already own paddle Board + Paddle:

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


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

Goosehill SUP Leash, Paddle Board
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A Leash belongs to the absolute standard equipment for Stand Up Paddling, because the boards can float quite fast due to currents, wind and the initial pushing away when falling into the water.

-> See my favorite Leashes

Clothing for Paddling

And which clothes are suitable?

  • In summer, a bikini and swim shorts are perfectly adequate. Just remember to wear enough sunscreen with a high sun protection factor and headgear if necessary.
  • In spring and fall, thin neoprene clothing such as a neoprene T-shirt or long john is a good idea.
Osprey Men's Full Length 3 mm
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  • In winter you should dress according to the onion principle to stay warm. Dry suits or wetsuits are recommended. Above all, make sure your hands and feet are warm.
Crewsaver Atacama Sport Sailing
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Life Jacket

Other websites generally recommend wearing life jackets while paddling. However, I believe that if you are an experienced swimmer, paddling in a group and you are looking for a glassy lake for the start anyway, the danger is relatively small.

Abuytwo Swim Vest with Adjustable
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I don’t want to take the decision away from you, though. If you’re a paddling beginner and want to get out on the water on your own and aren’t quite sure of your swimming skills, you should probably order a life jacket like the Lalizas Life Jacket.

-> See my favorite Life Jackets

Learn Paddling Step 2 – Get in the Water!

The equipment is at the start, but now how do you get in the water?

The first thing to do is prepare the board:

  • Open the valve of the board
  • Put the connection of the pump on it (by twist lock)
  • Pump up the board. The recommended pressure is provided by the manufacturer on the website or in the manual. In any case, this is in the range of 10 to 15 PSI.

For later: The supplied pumps 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 carrying handles. Push the board a few meters from the shore until the water is about waist deep. Now climb onto the board and kneel in the middle.

Stand forward, take the paddle in both hands and paddle away from the shore for a while.

Learn Paddling Step 3 – The Right Stance

Now slowly straighten up. It can help to lay the paddle across the board at first.

At first this will seem quite insecure. Especially for this reason it is recommended to start on an almost wave-free day (waves < 20 cm). With a little experience (1 or 2 tours) this initial uncertainty will completely fade away.

The paddling stance is upright. The back should be straight.

Bend your knees a little to better balance the waves of the water.

Now you can move on to the crucial final step….

Learn Paddling Step 4 – The Paddling Technique

Learning paddling means first and foremost learning the paddling technique.

For paddling, you first need to adopt the right posture. When paddling, you stand hip-width apart with your feet parallel on the board. Feet and body are facing forward.

The paddle is held with both hands. The hand on the paddle side is down on the shaft of the paddle while the other grips the handle.

  • If you are paddling on the right, the right hand is at the bottom of the shaft and the left hand is on the handle.
  • If you are paddling 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 does most of the work. The arm on the shaft of the paddle is called the pull arm. Ideally, you only guide the barrel of the paddle with this arm. However, the power comes from the upper arm.

Dive in with the paddle as far forward as possible and pull the paddle no higher than the height of your feet. This is the fastest way to move forward.

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

As you can see in the picture, the pressure arm is almost stretched. This is not so easy to do right at the beginning. Try to remember this during your first trips.

In which direction does the paddle point?

Choosing the right side of the paddle blade is somewhat unintuitive.

Paddle blades are often tilted. With a paddle, the sloped side must face away from you. The paddle should not be a shovel with which you bring as much water as possible to you, but a tool with which you move forward effectively.

So, the 5 minutes are up.

I hope you learned something about paddling and have fun on your first own paddle board adventure!

Hi, my name is Max. In 2016, on my first SUP trip, I was still a bit shaky on the SUP board. But quickly the ambition grabbed me and my passion for SUP was ignited. That’s why I founded stand-up-paddling.org the same year. Our mission is to help beginners discover this sport and bring more transparency into the market with our in-depth product reviews.

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