BY Suzie Cooney Owner of Suzie Trains Maui, LLC
It’s an honour to write for the ThePaddler ezine, as I imagine the reason why you’re reading this article is because like myself, you’ve caught the stand up paddling sensation or you’re getting ready to learn the new board sport that is taking the planet for an amazing ‘glide.’
The wonderful thing (one of many) about stand up paddling also known as ‘SUP’; is that practically anyone can do it and you don’t have to be a surfer, have incredible strength or cardio endurance, just the desire to have fun. It’s really that simple. Most people are up on their first try.
As a sponsored SUP team rider for Naish International and a professional fitness expert specializing in stand up paddling performance; I’ve had the fortunate experience to be able to paddle year round and paddle in all kinds of conditions, just about any day of the week.
Soon you’ll be preparing for your summer (hopefully) and I can’t wait to for you to catch the glide too. I’m going to share with you a few tidbits that will help you best prepare yourself in the best way so you can have the best possible experience too!
First, be sure you seek a qualified instructor with the proper equipment that will assure you the best first time adventure and success. I recommend that you learn on a wide and stable board and also be sure your paddle is not too long or too short. Also be sure that conditions are suitable for learning; calm, non-windy or water without big swell or chop.
Next, leave your ego or machoness at home and be open to feel and do something totally different. Embrace the fact that you may actually smile and laugh at one self while getting up for the first time, so simply relax.
A few tips regarding your mindset: Don’t tense up, just relax and keep your body lose and knees always slightly bent. Don’t death grip your toes on the board, relax them and be sure not to stand too wide; less than shoulder width apart is perfect. Look forward not down, dig in that paddle without hesitation and go! Use the paddle to brace yourself if you feel you may be falling.
Also once you’re up and paddling a bit, try to not look at the paddle each time you take a stroke. Keep looking forward. Keep your body somewhat upright don’t hunch over and reach for the nose of board each time.
Once you’ve been able to stop the shaking and the adrenaline has left your body, have fun! Start to really use your entire body to dig that blade in feel your body’s power pull you through the water. Pick up the tempo and always keep breathing.
To improve your skills, do some balance training and light upper body workouts. My website has tons of videos how to be stronger for SUP. But remember the one having the most fun is the one smiling and helping others share the stoke!
Learn Advanced First Aid for SUP Surfing – Prepare Yourself For Open Ocean Endurance / Safety – Learn Wave Etiquette & Board Handling – Gear Review -Downwind Paddling Tips – SUP Fitness Training Tips