Free shipping on all US orders


Best Advice for New Stand-up Paddle Boarders

May 12, 2023
Two Atoll Boards in Front of Lakeside Cabin

If you’re a long-time reader of our official Atoll Boards blog, then you may remember our extensive Beginner’s Guide to SUP. While this is still our be-all and end-all for new SUP-ers, we wanted to provide a shorter version as well. For a full-length guide that goes into extensive details about practically everything SUP-related—including board types, paddle types, fin selection, paddling techniques, travel tips, and so much more—please be sure to check out our original blog. For today’s purposes, we’d like to quickly share some of the best advice for new stand-up paddle boarders, including how to get balanced on your board, where to go for your first paddle, etc. Consider this your official starting point into the wonderful world of SUP.

Our Top Ten Tips and Tricks for Getting Started

1. Practice on Dry Land First – Before you even put your board in the water, get comfortable with being on top of it first. Start by setting up your SUP in your home, on the beach, or anywhere else you feel comfortable. Then, stand on it and practice the basics: balancing, tilting, turning, paddling, etc. While dry land is definitely different from being on top of the water, it’s still valuable practice in terms of getting comfortable, learning the basics, etc.

Stand-up Paddle Boarder Holding Atoll Board and Paddle in Front of Mountains and Water

2. Master Your Stance – Begin by standing on your board, preferably centered, with your feet parallel and hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly, keep your core engaged, and try to focus your vision on whatever is in front of you. Paddling is a whole lot easier if you’re maintaining a forward gaze; looking down at your hands and board will only make it tougher in the long run. If you’re able to keep these three things—slightly bent knees,  an engaged core, a forward gaze—then you’re already in an optimal stance that will increase your stability, control, etc.

3. Try Paddling on Your Knees – If you don’t feel confident or comfortable in your stance, then try paddling on your knees first. This will allow you to develop and hone all the same skills, but with a bit of added stability and certainty, as it’s much more difficult to fall off your board from this position. 

4. Practice Falling – That said, while no one wants to fall off their SUP, it is imperative that they know how to do so safely, as it is sure to happen eventually. With that in mind, we recommend practicing falling in a safe and secure location. As for the best ways to fall, the most important things are to fall away from your board so you don’t hurt yourself on it as well as covering your head with your arms, when possible, as to avoid significant injuries. 

5. Always Wear a Leash and Personal Floatation Device (PFD) – When you do fall off your board, the more prepared you are, the better. In our estimation, one of the best preparations for falling off your board is to have all the necessary accessories and equipment. More specifically, we highly recommend always wearing a leash and a PFD. For starters, the leash will keep you connected to your board, making it infinitely easier to get back to your SUP. The PFD, on the other hand, will keep you afloat, which can be invaluable in certain situations, such as being injured, exhausted, etc.

6. Pick a Calm and Peaceful Place for Your First Paddle – When you feel ready to go out for your first real paddle, pick a calm and peaceful location, such a tranquil lake, slow-moving river, etc. Additionally, we recommend going somewhere familiar, preferably with little to no crowds, if possible. At the same time, though, there’s no need to be completely alone. If having a friend or family member nearby would ease your mind, then by all means invite them to join you! 

Aerial Shot of Paddle Boarder on Water in Between Trees

7. Tell Someone Before You Go – If you do decide to go solo, please be sure to tell someone before you go. This can make a world of difference in any unexpected circumstances, such as getting injured, lost, etc. If you want, you can also request a check-in call—perhaps 30 or 60 minutes into things—just to make sure you’re doing well out there. Whatever works best for you! Either way, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

8. Start Out Slow, Pace Yourself, and Stay Near the Shore – Now, without further ado, let’s talk about getting you out on the water! While the open water can be extremely inviting, don’t let its lovely allure overwhelm your sense of caution. For your first few paddles, especially the initial one, we highly recommend starting out slow, pacing yourself, and staying near the shore. Realistically, you will probably get tired and sore sooner than expected, especially with your very first SUP session. This is completely normal and understandable, of course, as countless hours of practice can’t fully prepare you for what it’s like to be out on the water, constantly adjusting your footing, finding your balance, etc. In short, start out slow, pace yourself, and stay near the shore.

Woman Meditating on the Beach in Front of Water

9. Stretch, Hydrate, and Stay Protected – As wonderful as it can be, SUP-ing can also be very tolling, demanding, and draining; not only on a physical level, but also mentally, spiritually, etc. Of course, there are a few ways to be proactive about all of this. To prevent or limit muscle soreness, be sure to stretch both before and after your workout. Similarly, you may also benefit from meditating either before, during, or after your SUP session. Think of it this way, if you want to prepare or stretch out your body, why not do the mental and spiritual equivalents as well? While you’re at it, make sure you’re well hydrated, too. Last but not least, stay protected from the elements with sunscreen, sunglasses, a good hat, and perhaps even a rash guard or wetsuit, depending on your preferences.

10. Have Fun, Stay Safe, and Take Care of Yourself – Last but certainly not least, have fun! That’s the whole point, after all, right? Enjoy your time on the water; SUP-ing is a truly beautiful experience, and we genuinely hope that you’ll love it as much as we do. Just stay safe, don’t get too far out of your comfort zone, and know your limits. Listen to your body as well as your gut. If you’re nervous, exhausted, or uncomfortable for any other reason, please be sure to put your health and wellness first. No one knows your body, mind, and spirit better than you, so stay in tune, be mindful, and listen to it. If you can do this, then you’re sure to love your very first SUP experience. In short, have fun, stay safe, and take care of yourself. 

Paddle Boarder Holding Atoll SUP


As we said at the start of this blog, all of this is just the beginning; you can still learn a whole lot more from our full-length guide, including board types, paddle types, fin selection, paddling techniques, travel tips, etc. For today’s purposes, we just wanted to share a quicker and more accessible starting point for brand-new paddlers. That said, please be sure to do all the proper research before your first SUP session. The more research you do, the more prepared you’ll be; and the more prepared you are, the better your first paddle will be. 

Get in Touch With Our Team at Atoll Boards

Now that you know all of our best advice for new stand-up paddle boarders, you’re one step closer to getting out on the water! If you need anything else before then, such as your very first SUP or any of the essential pieces of equipment listed above, then be sure to check out the ‘Paddle Boards and Accessories’ section of our website. Once you’re there, you will find our signature Atoll Boards as well as our extensive selection of accessories, equipment, etc. If you have any questions about any of these items, the advice listed above, or anything else, please feel free to get in touch with our team at Atoll Boards. We would be more than happy to help you in any way we can, especially before your first SUP session! We hope to hear from you soon. Happy paddling, everyone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop