How to stand up and get back on your SUP board?

It’s in the name: to practice stand-up paddleboarding, you have to stand up! At first, getting on your board and “stand-up” can seem like a challenge. But actually, it’s not that complicated! With the right technique and a little practice, you’ll be able to paddle standing up like a pro in no time.

With Wattsup, a French watersport brand, we’ve prepared a short step-by-step guide to help you get on your stand-up paddle board, stand up and paddle with confidence.

Photo : @gossbrothers

Preparation is key!

Before you begin, make sure you’re properly equipped. Wear a life jacket and technical clothing appropriate for the season. Check that your board is properly inflated and that your fin is properly installed facing the right way. Wrap your leash around your ankle to prevent the board from moving away from you in the event of a fall.

Adjust your paddle length and choose a calm body of water – ideally with no waves, currents or chop. The flatter the water, the easier it will be for you to get you started.

Photo : @gossbrothers

Start on your knees

Place the board in shallow water with the fin facing down. Hold the board by its edges and wade into the water until it’s knee-deep. Place the paddle across the board and climb onto the board from the side, placing your hands on the paddle shaft. Position yourself in the center of the board to ensure good stability. Sit on your heels with your knees slightly apart. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed across the board, not too far forward, not too far back. Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the feeling of being on the board.

Photo : @gossbrothers

Find your balance

Once you’re in a kneeling position, start shifting your weight slightly from side to side to feel how the board reacts. This will help you understand how to adjust your balance when you stand up. Take your paddle and put the blade into the water. Start paddling, making gentle sweeps to check how the board “behaves”.

Once you’re comfortable enough, make sure that the board has gained the momentum forward to attempt standing up.

Photo : @gossbrothers

Switch from kneeling to standing

From your kneeling position, put your hands on the shaft in front of you. From there, start by putting one foot flat on the board. Take your time to find your balance in this position before lifting your other leg and putting your other foot flat on the board.

Lean slightly forward and use your hands to gently push down onto the board and lift your body up with your feet wide apart. On your way up pick up your paddle and put the blade into the water to start paddling. Rise slowly to a full standing position, adjusting your feet as necessary. Keep your gaze fixed on the horizon, or far ahead, to maintain your balance throughout this stage. Remember to keep paddling to ensure stability.

Photo : @mylene_granger

Find your stance

Once standing up, keep your knees slightly bent to keep your balance and your back straight. Make sure your feet are placed parallel to the width of the board and about shoulder-width apart for optimal stability. Experiment with the position of your feet to find the one that feels most comfortable and stable to you.

Photo : @gossbrothers

Use your paddle correctly

Hold your paddle with both hands – one on the shaft and one on the handle. Make sure to put the whole blade into the water for a better pull. The angle of the paddle blade should be pointing forward. Make sure to keep your paddle in front of you and not pull it past your feet when paddling, this way you will have more control of the board. Alternate sides to maintain your trajectory and balance the effort on both sides of your body.

Photo : @alfredo_mangione

Don’t be afraid to fall in

It’s natural to fall into the water, especially when you’re a beginner. Don’t be discouraged by the falls, instead, think of them as learning opportunities. The more you practice, the more you will develop your balance and confidence. When falling in, try to keep the paddle away from your body.

Photo : @gossbrothers

After the fall…

The first thing to do after a fall is to stay calm. Don’t panic and keep breathing! Your life jacket will keep you afloat on the surface and you’re connected to your board with your leash.

Start by getting rid of your paddle by placing it at the front of your board. This frees up both of your hands to help you get back on your SUP. Next, position yourself on the side of your board, usually at the centre indicated by the carry handle. Grab the handle with one hand (usually your dominant hand) and use it to pull yourself up until you can reach the opposite rail with your other hand. Start kicking your legs to propel yourself forward while pulling yourself up to climb onto the board. Keep your weight centered over the board to avoid tipping it over. Once you’re on the board, lie on your stomach and take your time to get back to the kneeling position.  Once you’re comfortable, you can stand up again.

Photo : @melanieanselme

You can also try to get back on your board from the back, grabbing onto the rails and sliding up your board. Once you get to the middle of the board, you can get back on your knees and start all over! There is also a technique with a belt that allows you to pull yourself up on the board:

Take your time to practice falling in and climbing up in an area that is deep enough but not too far from the shore. In case of any difficulties, you will easily reach the bank to get back on your stand-up paddleboard. Stay safe and practice, practice, practice to master this essential skill!

Photo : @alex__u7

To find out more about Wattsup, visit and follow the brand on social media: Facebook and Instagram

*This is an English translation of the original article by Laurie Montagner 

About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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