How to Balance on Your Paddleboard – (A Tutorial)

How to Balance on Your Paddleboard

I hope you will agree with me when I say that If you know how to balance yourself on a paddleboard, then you won’t be paddling for a long time. Am I wrong?

For most people, one of the biggest challenges is when you’re starting out in standup paddleboarding and trying to just stay balanced on top of the board.

I will share with you some tips that will help you improve your balance on the paddleboard on flat or choppy waters.

A Step by Step Guide on How to Balance on Your Paddleboard

The Right Paddleboard and Paddle Matter

I cannot emphasize this enough. You need to ensure you get the right gear – right paddleboard and right paddle, that’s right for you. For example, a very tall paddler with a sizeable mass should get a longer, wider paddleboard.

The width of the paddleboard is perhaps the most important feature to influence your balance. The wider the board, the easier you will find it to balance on the board.

Conversely, if you opt for a smaller board, then you will most likely find it a bit challenging to maintain your balance on the board as a beginner. Eventually, you will be able to keep your balance on a small board, but most likely not as a beginner.

Get to a Good Starting Position

So, yeah let’s get started with getting your balance right on the paddleboard.

You need a good starting place to get on your board and preferably from a standing position.

I recommend starting off from shallow waters. You can also use a dock as a starting point to get on your paddleboard.

However, the technique required to start paddling from a dock is different from that required to start from shallow water.

Launch or End Your SUP from Shallow Water

To mount your paddleboard in shallow water and start paddling, you first get on your knees on the board. Importantly, you always want to be right in the middle where the handle is. That’s usually the center of the board.

If you’re too far back, the tail of the board will sink. If you’re too far forward, the tail will stick up out of the water.

So you want to make sure that you balance properly on the board by starting off in a kneeling position and in the middle of the board. This helps to keep the board flat on the water.

Launch or Land Your Sup  from a Dock

To start off paddling from a dock, your require a different technique to get on the board.

While at the edge of the dock with your paddleboard, paddle, and leash, follow these steps:

  1. Put your leash on before putting the board in the water (prevents the board from being pushed or blown away)
  2. Drop your board from the dock on the water
  3. Get on the board in a kneeling position as you get on it. Stay in the middle of the board precisely and stay low
  4. Push away from the dock while still kneeling on the board.

That’s it really.

NOTE: To land the board after you are done paddling, you should approach the dock in a low sitting or kneeling position and do not stand up until you are on the dock. Then stand on the dock and use your leash to pull the board up unto the dock.

Get Comfortable in a Kneeling Position

After mounting the board in a kneeling position in the shallow water or from a dock, you should spend a few seconds or minutes just getting a hang of the motion (sometimes rocky)  of the board on the water until you feel comfortable in the position.

If you’re already struggling in the kneeling position, you might want to try to get a wider board because it’s only going to get harder to get into the standing position.

Take a Few Paddle Strokes

Next step is to try to take a few paddle strokes from your kneeling position. You don’t have to hold the handle way up the shaft. Instead, I recommend you hold the paddle mid-shaft and take a few strokes to get the board moving.

This is important as you will start feeling confident in your ability.

Put the Paddle Down and Stand Up

To stand up, you should first put the paddle in front of you, put your feet where your knees were and then stand up, look forward and start paddling. This is one effective way I’ve seen instructors use to teach students.

Another way to transition from a kneeling position to a standing position on the board is to put the paddle in front of you and then totally get from that kneeling position to a standing position by using the paddle as a prop to help you stand up.

Either technique to stand up from a kneeling position is a personal preference, so you should give both a try to see which one works better for you.

In either case, remember to keep your feet apart (shoulder length) and still in the middle of the board.

Ensure You are Facing the Right Way

It is important to start paddling and moving into the wind first. You are better able to keep your balance with a slight wind against you than with the wind pushing you from the back at this stage.

Start Paddling

Okay, so remember to be right in the middle of the board, so that the board’s flat on the water.

It is also important that you keep your knees bent.

Always look forward don’t look down at the board. Don’t be hunched or bent forward.

You can now start paddling and keep your paddle in the water. This will help you maintain your balance.

Don’t forget to keep the blade angle facing away from your body.

If you do start to lose your balance get even lower by bending your knees some more and put your paddle in the water for balance. The further you can get the paddle out to the side the more stability it’s going to give you.

How to Move on Your Paddleboard

So now that you have the basics to maintain your balance on a board, it is important to master how to move around the board while on the water.

It is tricky but not difficult.

It’s tricky because if you stand on one foot the board will rock.  So it’s actually easier to move around the board by making little jumps so that you can un-weigh both feet at the same time and prevent the board from rocking.

To turn the board, you can move your weight to the back of the board to sink the tail, then use your paddle to turn in the direction you want to.


Let’s wrap these all up and highlight the key techniques to remember to help you balance on the paddleboard:

1. Get on your board either from shallow water or launch it from a dock.

2. Remember to bend your knees and keep your upper body forward. Always look forward.

3. Keep the paddle in the water, stand right in the middle, get the board moving and, just let your body naturally do the balancing for you.

Finally, please be mindful of other parties you are sharing the water with while having fun in your paddleboard. Most importantly, stay safe.


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