Top tips to paddleboard injury-free from Starboard Team Rider Scott Warren

With the recent mainstream media coverage, stand-up paddleboarding has been dubbed the post-lockdown sport of the Summer. Offering a sought-after form of escapism, SUP is attracting a new wave of users and water enthusiasts which brings both opportunities for the sport and challenges. “It is now up to the experienced paddlers to get out there and give the newcomers some advice,” says Starboard Team Rider Scott Warren. TotalSUP caught up with this seasoned UK SUP athlete to chat about the best ways of getting on the water safely and injury-free.

Photo: Sarah Elizabeth Thornely, SupJunkie

Hi Scott, how have you been holding up through the global COVID-19 crisis and coping with the New Normal?

Hi! Alright actually. Of course at first, like many others, we had questions like what would we do etc. but we soon found a routine and made it work. Having a toddler kept us busy and actually going on furlough, I had a special opportunity to spend each day with the family. Now we are looking forward to seeing our extended family and continuing to adapt to what’s next.

You’re back to training and back on Starboard…Could you tell us about your collaboration with the brand?

Yeah, training is going well and nice to be back out on the water. Starboard in some ways is like going home for me. I started paddling on a Starboard, my first board was a 10’5” Drive, I worked for them with Tushingham, the UK’s a dedicated watersports distribution company, for many years, and of course, have spent many more years as a Team Rider. This time I have a Rider agreement with Bray Lake Watersports and a partnership to deliver their performance paddling with my coaching company Haywood Sports.

Photo: Sarah Elizabeth Thornely, SupJunkie

What’s your Starboard quiver of choice?

Ha all of them! I’ve been pretty fortunate to try almost everything they have made since 2012, so there are many good boards I could pick. Right now through Bray Lake Watersports, I have a Starboard 14’ Sprint for my racing and training. I also own a 10’ longboard for surfing and my wife Lauren has a 9’0 Converse for her surfboard. We share each board but there is always room for one or two more right!

You have been involved in developing SUP training programmes and have joined clubs across the UK to support their members in taking their skills to the next level. What has been your experience like?

Very positive and welcoming from the clubs and their members. My approach is kind of like learning to drive, once you pass your test and you get out on your own, that’s when you really start to develop. Of course, you can pick up bad habits but I focus on the strengths with each paddler and that really hits home with many of them. I always enjoy working with someone and it suddenly clicks for them and then being able to follow their progress after on social media is fantastic! That’s how I judge what’s working.

There’s been recently a lot of press coverage and the sport of stand-up paddleboarding has exploded under lockdown? This brings both stoke but also challenges. What are your thoughts?

Firstly it’s great because so many people are finding out what the sport is all about. One thing SUP has to offer over a lot of other sports is how diverse it is without being overly complex or incredibly hard. You can get out on the water and paddle, then do some fitness, race, practice yoga and then take your dog out, all in one evening if you wanted to, without changing equipment.

The challenge is getting those new to the sport to understand what’s possible. If you only see SUP in a lifestyle magazine or on a TV advert, you don’t get the full picture. If I could say just one thing to a new paddler is: find your local paddling community and just ask questions about what you can do, although the sky is the limit really!

With lockdown restrictions lifted for watersports, many people will hit the water with limited physical training and preparation time. What are your tips to ensure safety and prevent injuries?

Firstly, take your time, I can’t say that enough. Just step back for a minute and observe what is going on. It’s amazing what you can notice and how much difference that can make to your paddle. Things like what the wind is doing, how strong the flow is, making sure your leash is on correct, these things we miss when we rush.


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Same goes for physical training. Mix up your paddles so you are not constantly working at 100% every time you train. Take your time to get going with the session, even if you only have half an hour, take it steady for 5 minutes and make sure you cool down also. One of my favourite sessions is only 20 minutes of training for example.

Could you share some “back-to-SUP” training tips?

If you’re going out training then have an idea what you want to achieve before you get on the water. That way you can warm up appropriately, for example, my short 20-minute session is based on intervals so I’m going to try and build my heart rate up through short sprints during the first 5 minutes.


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If it’s a longer session then take your time to get yourself settled. For a 45 minute session I warm up for 10 – 15 minutes normally. Use your warm-up to focus on your technique, it will give you confidence in your session and get you used to the conditions.

Ultimately you have to try things in training to know what works for you, such things like can you eat just before a session, does drinking caffeine affect you etc. Make sure you also have fun and use your cool down to experiment with things like moving your feet, it keeps you relaxed after a hard session instead of just stopping.

What would you say to paddlers who are just entering the SUP racing scene?

Firstly it’s more accessible than you might think. Sure many people on the start line have paddled for years and done lots of racing, but everyone started somewhere and for many, SUP racing was their first competitive sport.

Then it’s worth getting involved in your local paddling community. Many run regular fun races which are great for you to practise and get used to racing. Don’t worry if you don’t have a race board just getting out there and giving it a go is what matters. And finally, enjoy the challenge of it! Yes, the start can be crazy on a big race but just keep paddling and you will be well on your way.

Photo: Sarah Elizabeth Thornely, SupJunkie

Any predictions on how the sport will change in the New Normal circumstances?

I think we will see more diversity, and events will become even more accessible as we are already seeing virtual events popping up which are a great way to keep focus in your training or giving you a goal to work towards. Through my coaching activity, we have just launched an open-to-all UK Virtual TT event inviting the SUP community to particpate in such format.

I also think it’s now up to the experienced paddlers to get out there and give the newcomers some advice, all too often I see people commenting about people using a paddle backwards or not using a leash on social media. We have a duty to the sport to educate them and help them progress. We take for granted the experience we have built up about the conditions or basic technique and things we just know, but it is also easy to impart that knowledge to others.

One final thing to anyone getting into SUP – please ask questions through your local retailer or coaches. Going direct to these individuals you will get a clearer response than posting it on one of the social media groups where you usually get a million answers and it’s hard to figure outs what’s best for you. You can also get an understanding of how much experience they can give you like the question how long have you been paddling usually gives you a good idea. Have fun on the water and stay safe.

Thank you for your time and tips Scott! Good luck with the rest of the SUP season!

To find out more about Starboard innovation and and check out the 2020 board range, visit

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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