How to Improve Balance Paddle Boarding for Beginners | Maddle

Falling into the water while paddle boarding can be fun, but it can also be a bit of a bummer—especially when it’s unexpected, unintentional, and if you weren’t wanting to get wet.

The best way to prevent yourself from “taking a drink” is to improve your balance! Follow these tips and tricks to find your most stable position while paddling.

Do you need good balance for paddle boarding?

You need relatively good balance for paddle boarding, although it doesn’t need to be perfect. Paddle boarding is an incredibly easy and beginner sport—especially on calm water. Just about anyone, with any level of balance, can paddle board with the right techniques, tips and tricks, and weather conditions.

Is paddle boarding hard to balance?

Paddle boarding can be hard to balance if your board is too small for your size, if the water is choppy, if you’re looking around or moving your body around a lot, or if your stance is incorrect.

Why am I so wobbly on a paddle board?

If you’re feeling wobbly on a paddle board, it might be because you’re using the wrong standing and paddling techniques, the water might be choppy, or you might have the wrong size of board.

man balancing on a stand up paddle board, paddling forward

How do I improve my paddle board balance?

To improve your balance on a paddle board, you should keep your feet shoulder-width apart, maintain a slight bend in the knees, keep your shoulders facing forward, focus on the horizon, and more. We cover all the SUP balancing tips and tricks below.

1. Get the right size of board for you

You can improve your balance before you even step foot on your board and learn how to SUP! This is done by selecting a paddle board that’s the right size for you. What makes a board the right size for you is based on your height and weight as well as your general skill level. The more you weigh and the taller you are, the bigger the board should be—especially the width! Which brings us to our next tip…

2. Opt for a wider board

If you struggle with balance and want to increase your chances of feeling sturdy on a paddle board, opt for a wider board.  The wider the board the greater the balance you'll have. With a wider board, it takes less balance, core strength, and focus to find your center, and it’ll feel much easier to stand up and steady yourself on the board.

3. Use an inflatable paddle board

If balance is a concern for you, opt for an inflatable paddle board instead of a solid one. Inflatable boards are more stable than solid ones because they have more volume which makes them more stable.

Compared to hard paddle board types, inflatable paddleboards are very easy to stand on due to their shape, width, and volume. This is why most SUP yoga instructors and enthusiasts use them. Their stability is unmatched compared to a hard SUP.

4. Paddle on calm water

This might go without saying, but paddling on calm waters instead of choppy water will improve your balance and make maintaining your stability on the board more successful. Check the weather forecast before going paddle boarding and plan to go on days where the wind is minimal to non-existent.

5. Position yourself in the center of your board

You should position yourself at the center of your board at all times when you're on the water.  This means when you’re kneeling, standing, or head standing. Your weight should always be centered over the very center of the board. 

Get on the board right in the middle (knees right where the handle is). If you’re too far back on the board, the tail will sink. If you’re too far forward, the nose of the board will sink. Either scenario could send you off the board and into the water. Your body weight should always be right over the middle of the board.

man on a stand up paddle board, paddling from his knees

Pro tip: The handle of your board is the center of the board, so aim to have your knees or feet to each side of the handle at all times to give you maximum balance.

If you’re doing SUP yoga, you can maintain balance by ensuring that your weight is evenly distributed between all sides of the board (front and back, and side to side).

6. Start from the knees

Whenever you get onto your SUP board, you should always start from your hands and knees before moving to your feet. This will ensure that you find your balance and progress to your standing position in a slow and controlled way—lessening the chance of you falling off.

Trying to step onto your paddle board and stand isn’t a smart approach and should be avoided at all costs. Even if you’re getting on the board from a dock.

7. Never paddle perpendicular to the wind

To increase your balance while SUPing, paddle into the wind or away from it, never perpendicular to it. Paddling perpendicular to the wind can cause you to feel off balance due to waves or simply the force of the wind pushing you sideways. Even a small amount of force can knock you off your board so try to paddle into or away from the wind whenever possible on the water.

8. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart

When standing on your paddle board, position your feet so they’re shoulder width apart (or slightly wider than shoulder-width apart) with your toes facing forward and your feet flat on the board. Your feet should be in line with one another so that one foot isn’t further behind or in front of the other.

9. Maintain a slight bend in the knees

Your legs should never be locked out or hyperextended while standing on your board. If they are, you won’t be able to absorb any movement from the water and you’ll lose your balance. Maintaining a slight bend in the knees allows you to absorb inevitable movements from the water and momentum from paddling. In this sort of ready stance, you’ll feel more stable and well-balanced.

10. Look towards the horizon

Keep your gaze towards the horizon when stand up paddle boarding. This is one of the most important tips for balancing on a SUP. When you’re looking forward toward the horizon, you’re naturally in a tall and proud position which will benefit your balance a great deal.

11. Keep your shoulders facing forward

Try to avoid turning your shoulders too much while SUPing. Rotating your shoulders will cause a shift in your weight distribution and may throw you off balance. It may be unrealistic to keep your shoulders facing forward the whole time you’re paddling, so when you do move around, try to keep an engaged core to brace yourself and maintain your stability.

12. Know how to correct a wobble without falling in

Let’s face it, no matter how well-balanced anyone is, your balance will always be challenged at some point or another while paddle boarding. This can be from an unexpected wave or not paying attention. Either way, you should know the best way to correct yourself if you start to wobble on your paddle board.

If you get thrown slightly off balance, bend your knees and crouch down to lower your center of gravity and regain your stability. You can also put your paddle in the water for balance. The further out to the side you can get your paddle, the more stability you’ll have.

If all else fails and you can’t regain your balance, try dropping to your hands and knees quickly to avoid falling into the water.

13. Keep your fleet planted

Don’t move your feet around. If you unweight one foot, you’ll throw your balance off causing the board to rock. If you need to reposition, go back to your hands and knees. Alternatively, you can do small jumps to reposition yourself but this isn’t overly advised since this can throw your balance off and cause you to fall into the water.

14. Incorporate balance exercises into your workout routine

When you’re not on the water, you can perform various dryland exercises to improve your balance. Some of the best balancing exercises for paddle boarders include core strength and lower body exercises, but incorporating some upper body exercises is beneficial as well. Use a Bosu ball, stability ball, stability pucks, foam rollers, balance board/Indo board, and other stability equipment to focus your workouts on balance training. Or perform single leg exercises as these will also challenge and improve your balance.

You can also perform various exercises on your paddle board to help improve your balance—although, we recommend perfecting these on dryland before executing them on your board.

Find your balance with Maddle paddle boards

Our inflatable SUP boards are designed to help you find and maintain your balance on the water. They’re wide enough and long enough to keep adults upright with little effort or skill.

Shop our selection of inflatable paddle boards and feel the difference our boards make when it comes to staying centered and stable while on the water.

Camille Brodeur

Driven by the intersection of lifestyle and fitness, Camille's mission is to inspire others to integrate elements of beauty and aesthetic into their outdoor activities. Her depth of experience in the paddle boarding world allows her to inform and motivate others to get out on the water in the safest and most fun ways possible. Whether it be through her work at Maddle or elsewhere, Camille continuously strives to expand the public consciousness surrounding SUPs.


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