I've never stepped aboard a stand up paddle board (SUP) before, but I'm going to give this SUP thing a try. Luckily, the guy behind the camera, Paul, is an experienced paddler. Throughout the video, you'll hear him talk me through the basics, and check out the following tips and tricks that helped me through my first paddle board experience without falling off the board.

Steps when learning how to stand up paddle board

  1. Before you start, check that your paddle length is a little taller than your height

  2. Place the board in the water and start off by sitting on your knees in the middle of the board

  3. Put your hands on the each side of the board and stand up slowly

  4. Keep your feet shoulder width apart and have a slight bend in your knees

  5. To paddle straight, take a couple strokes on one side of the board and then switch to the other side doing the same thing

  6. To turn, paddle backwards on one side of the board

  7. For more power, reach out as far forward as you can with the paddle


Yay—I made it! Actually, paddling around was a lot of fun. And I did say one thing that was misleading: that the paddle should be "my height." Actually, when I reach over my head, my hand should settle onto the handle comfortably.

I've come to realize that sometimes, with boating simpler really is better. (If you don't believe me, read Simple Boating). I may even have to take it up as a new hobby, but first, I'll have to learn how to choose the right SUP for me, and check out the Best Stand Up Paddle Boards.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in September 2014, updated in May 2018 and March 2020.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld, boats.com, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.