The Quickest Way to Learn Surfing on Stand Up Paddle Boards

At first this can seem daunting and the easiest way seems to be to kneel down on the board rather than standing on it. In reality this doesn’t do much to help with the longer term aim of standing up and paddling as the motions learnt are completely different to standing. As any experienced paddler will tell you it’s all about “time on the board”.

With experience on the board comes an an instinctive ability of your body to react quickly to changes in balance. What this means is that your body automatically learns what the easiest way of dealing with oncoming wave chop is by practicing standing up and paddling in the same conditions.

For an absolute beginner though the first few sessions can be off putting if they keep falling off of the board into the water.

What we have found is that there are certain ways to speed up this learning process without getting put off by the apparent difficulties involved in stand up paddling.

Before we get started, don’t worry if you feel you need extra guidance.  You can always go get expert instruction at surf school like this one:

But this are the simple basic rules to follow:

1) Make sure the wind is not too strong. Anything 10mph or under is preferable otherwise there will probably be too much chop and you will get blown off course.

2) Ideally learn on a flat lake. You will be pleased to not have to battle any waves when you are trying to practice just balancing on your board.

3) Learn on as wide a stand up paddleboard as possible. If you can find anything even wider it will generally be even easier. You’ll be surprised how much just a single inch off the width can make balancing.

4) Watch videos of paddlers and stand on a low wall, milk crate or box and practice mimicking the same paddle stroke so that your body can perfect it before you have the instability of the board to deal with. Practice changing the paddle from side to side as well.

5) If you have got a friend who is a good swimmer get them to swim along behind you holding the back of the board steady as if they were holding a swimming float. This will help stabilize the board and stop it rocking from side to side as you find your balance. They will need a strong grip for this. At first you can have them hold the board while you just stand on it before even attempting to paddle.


6) When you get more comfortable on the board with paddle board surfing and you’re able to paddle remember to keep the paddle in the water as much as possible when the conditions become choppy. Picture the strength of a tripod through all three contact points and realise you get a similar effect when the paddle is in the water propelling you forwards helping you balance

With these six great tips you should be able to enjoy stand up paddling a lot quicker than it could otherwise take.

It’s helpful to understand the difference in the size of boards between SUPs and surfboards.

The primary difference is that SUPs are much larger than traditional surfboards. A SUP can easily be up to 14 ft long period and because of the extra size, a SUP is usually heavier as well as thicker than a traditional surfboard.

With this larger size comes to the benefit of a paddleboard being more stable. This is why paddle boards are great for beginners and small children as well as families.

Surfboards are much smaller than SUPs, they are anywhere in size from 5 ft to 9 ft long. Because of this much smaller size, they are much lighter than a stand-up paddleboard. The benefit of the smaller size is that they are much more agile and maneuverable.

To learn more about surfboard sizes, here is a good article to read:

It is much easier for a surfboard to cut on waves than it is a paddleboard, that is why when you’re looking for a surfing paddle board it will be slightly smaller with a sharper nose and tapered tail compared to a traditional paddleboard like a touring SUP.

You can ride the same waves on a SUP as you can on a surfboard but there are some things you need to be aware of.

Paddleboards are not as quick as surfboards. So while you can ride the same waves as surfboards, you generally don’t want to. You want to give surfers plenty of room and surfers need to give paddle boarders room because SUPs are much slower to turn and much less responsive than surfboards.

Here are just a few reasons to choose a SUP board for surfing.

It’s much easier to get around on a paddleboard than it is a surfboard on a paddleboard you can stand up and use the paddle to propel you through the water and get out past the surf break.

On a traditional surfboard, you have to lay down flat on your stomach and paddle with your arms which isn’t a very efficient way to move through the water. Not to mention it can make your shoulders arms neck and back very sore. And then once you go to catch the wave it’s easier on a SUP because you are already standing up.

To catch a wave on a surfboard you have to transition from lying on your stomach to jumping onto your feet period this can be tricky and you are likely to fall into the water. It’s much easier to learn to surf on a SUP than it is a traditional surfboard. Anyone can learn to SUPsurf.

Because paddle boards are so wide and large and user-friendly anyone can learn to ride one period whereas a surfboard will often take much more effort even years to master being able to stand on. The hardest part of surfing is the transition from lying down to popping up on your knees to standing up period this can be difficult for most people especially those with bad joints.

With paddleboarding, you skip all of this because you’re already standing up. Another benefit that sup has over surfing is that you get a total body workout with SUP. On a paddleboard, you are using your core your shoulders, and your arms. on a surfboard, you are using mostly just your lower body your legs, and then also to some degree your core.

A paddleboard is a superior workout.

One aspect that goes largely unnoticed with paddleboarding is the view. on a paddleboard you are standing and you can see much farther out into the water and under the water than you can on a surfboard. It’s all about the experience. You get to take more in and enjoy your surroundings and also be able to spot dangers a lot easier because you are standing up five feet higher than you are on a surfboard.

Because on a surfboard you are lying down and you are mere inches above the water so you just don’t have nearly as much visibility. You just have more options with surf SUP. While surfing on a paddle board is a lot of fun, it’s not the only thing you can do on a SUP. You can also use a surf SUP on flat water such as rivers or lakes.

We don’t always get the opportunity to have sweet waves on which to play period so it’s nice to have other options available. These are just some of the reasons why you might want to consider a paddle board for surfing.