A Beginner’s Guide to Standing Up on a Paddleboard


There’s a moment on the water that stands out as a milestone for every paddleboard enthusiast — that first successful attempt at standing up. For some, it’s a smooth sail; for others, it’s a splashy learning curve. But fear not, because today we’re breaking down the art of rising to your feet on a paddleboard. With patience and practice, you’ll soon be standing tall and enjoying the unique perspective and freedom that stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) offers.

The Basics: Understanding Your Paddleboard

Before you attempt to stand, get to know your board. The size, shape, and volume of your paddleboard play a crucial role in its stability. A wider board will generally offer more stability, which is great for beginners. If it is an inflatable board, make sure its fully inflated to give it the ridigity you need.

Preparation: Starting in Still Waters

Begin in calm, flat water and make sure you’re familiar with the paddleboard’s balance point. Position yourself near the center of the board where the carry handle is typically located — this is usually the most stable point.

The Position: From Knees to Feet

  1. Knee Paddle First: Start by kneeling on the board, which gives you a feel for the water and the board’s movements. Keep your hands on either side of the board for balance.
  2. Finding Your Feet: Place your hands on the board in front of you and move one foot at a time into the place where your knees were.
  3. Rising Up: With a strong core and a gaze fixed on the horizon, push down through your feet, rise to a low squat, and then stand up fully.

Balance and Stability: Core and Gaze

Maintaining balance is key. Engage your core muscles as they will help stabilize you. Paddleboarding is actually a great work out. Keep your feet parallel, about hip-width apart, and slightly bend your knees to absorb any movement from the water. Remember, your gaze helps with balance — look forward, not down.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Rushing the Process: Take your time transitioning from kneeling to standing. Rushing can throw off your balance.
  • Looking Down: This common mistake can cause you to lose your balance. Keep your head up and look ahead.
  • Stiff Legs: Locked knees make it harder to balance. Keep a slight bend in your knees.

Practice Makes Perfect

Don’t be discouraged if you fall. Get back on the board and try again. Each attempt will improve your skill and confidence. If you are not falling in, you could be improving faster in my opinion.

Once you are comfortable standing and paddling on flat water, it may be time to try more open water such as a wider river or lake before progressing to the sea. In the future you can progress even to white water. Good practice to improve your confidence is building up some speed or practicing turning 180 when standing.


Standing up on a paddleboard is a real milestone experience that opens up greater distances and more enjoyment. With these tips and some practice, you’ll be gliding over the water’s surface in no time. Remember, every pro was once a beginner. Happy paddling!

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Co-founder and Chief Adventurer

I am Max, the co-founder and CEO of adventuro. We are on a mission to help you get into the sports you have always wanted to try, or develop in the sports you love, exploring new skills and locations. We do this by partnering with the best instructors, guides, and activity centres to get a great spread from beginner all the way to instructor training.

For too long, it has been way to confusing to find your next steps, or even to know where to start when getting into adventure sports. I am an experienced and/or qualified paraglider, skydiver, scuba diver, freediver, power boat driver, snowboarder, kitesurfer, kayaker, mountain biker, surfer, dirt biker, wakeboarder, and sailor.

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