One of the scariest parts of paddleboarding, especially for beginners, is learning how to balance while standing on the board. Though many find this easier than they think it’s going to be, it’s always possible to improve your balance on your board.
Here’s what you need to do to feel confident standing up on your board, no matter how choppy the water is.
Stand Up Slowly
Take your time when you’re standing up on your board. Start out sitting or kneeling, get comfortable there, then take your time standing up. You can even stay on one knee for a while, just to get comfortable with the feel of the board under your feet.
When you do decide to stand up, place your feet where you want them, then raise yourself slowly. Don’t make any sudden moments that will rock your board.
Widen Your Stance
Place your feet slightly wider than hip-width on your board. This will help you stay upright no matter how your board rocks.
Most people put their feet right about hip-width, which will work once you’re more comfortable on your board. When you’re getting used to it, though, or when you need some extra balance, going wider is always better.
Stagger Your Feet
If it’s hard for you to balance with your feet side by side, try putting one slightly in front of the other. This will give you extra balance on your forward/backward axis. Try to keep your feet wide, as well, so you still have that balance fro side to side.
Bend Your Knees
Don’t lock your knees when you’re standing on your paddleboard. While you don’t need to be in a full squat, definitely unlock your knees and even bend them slightly. This helps you adapt as your board moves. It gives your body a greater ability to move with your board instead of bracing against it.
Practice Balance Exercises
There are a number of ways to improve your balance, both on your board and off. Practice these several times a week and you’ll find your balance getting better fast. If you can’t get out on the water that often, you may want to consider purchasing a balance board for extra practice at home.
Stand on One Foot
This may sound easy but try it anyway. See how long you can stand on one foot. Then try the other. If you find that you can stand on one for significantly longer than the other, practice until that foot catches up to the other one. Even if your feet are about equal, take the time to practice this. The longer that you can stand on each foot alone, the better your balance will be.
Touch the Ground from One Foot
When you’ve gotten standing one foot down, start doing floor or toe touches on one foot. The movement will make this a lot harder than just standing! Work yourself up to doing 20 repetitions on each foot and your balance will be so much better!
Practice Riding in Wakes or Choppy Water
The next time you’re on your board, don’t avoid those waves or that chop. Instead, seek it out. Sure, you might take a dunk or two, but over time your balance will improve. Remember not to get too close to boats or other devices on the water with engines. Their chop will spread for quite a distance, so you can reap the benefits without risking yourself.
Be sure to take on wake or chop from different angles. Tackle it head-on, pointing the nose of your board across the chop. Then try turning your board so each wave hits the side, instead of the front. Do this on both sides, then turn your board so the waves catch the back of your board first. This helps you reap the most benefit from this practice.
Finally, practice pivot turning to improve your balance on your board. Does your board have decking all the way to the back? Some boards even have a little shelf right at the back of the board. These are for pivot turns.
To get started, stand as far back on your board as you can. You’ll want to stagger your stance, placing one foot significantly ahead of the other. You may also have to narrow your stance, depending on how wide your board is at the back.
Once you’re there, start paddling in a circle. Keep your paddle on one side and back paddle gently. Do be sure to start out gently. These turns will spin faster than you’ve spun on your board before and you don’t want to fall off.
Start with one or two small, slow spins and work up to spiraling through the water. If you can get that far, you’ll have all the balance you need to be confident on your board.
No matter what technique you choose, it’s worth it to work to improve your balance on your paddleboard. When you have better balance, you’ll be more confident on your board. Then you’ll be ready to take on any challenge the water might throw at you!
How have you improved your balance on your paddleboard? Leave a comment below!