Common mistakes paddleboarders make on the Water

Paddleboarders on the Gannel Estuary, Cornwall

We recently covered the most common mistakes almost every paddleboarder will make at least once while setting up their inflatable SUP before heading out on the water including not closing the valve before pumping the board up and not pumping up the board to the recommended pressure so it only seems right to cover our tips on what to avoid when you get your stand up paddleboard out on the water so that you can gave the best experience and progress in your paddling journey. 

1 - Not checking the weather conditions are suitable for your ability

Heading out on your paddleboard when you haven't checked the weather conditions can not only mean that the activity may not be very enjoyable but it can also put yourself, your group & potential rescuers in danger. In 2022, RNLI lifeguards and lifeboat crews responded to 1,465 incidents involving paddleboards; many of which could have been easily avoided if the paddlers had checked and understood weather conditions beforehand. The key things that you need to be checking are the wind (both speed & direction), temperature & tides to ensure that the conditions are suitable for your ability. We would not recommend taking your paddleboard out in offshore winds, especially if you are a beginner. 

2 -  Not researching the location

Another thing to check in advance is the location that you are planning on heading to. There's nothing worse than packing up your car, inflating your board and getting to the location you are wanting to start your paddle and realising that the area is not as accessible as it looks in photos that you have seen online. We also make sure we check parking, slipways/access, if a license is required to paddle along with if there is anything important you need to know about the waterway such as strong currents, sandbanks or prohibited areas. Doing your research beforehand will ensure that you can get on the water and off on your adventure smoothly.

3- Wearing the wrong leash

Your leash is a key piece of safety equipment and is what keeps you attached to your paddleboard should you fall of the board. Most boards will come with an ankle leash which are to be used on flat/non-moving water where there are no risks of entrapment however you may also need a quick release waist leash (now included in all Sandbanks Style paddleboard packages) if you are paddling on moving water or a straight surf leash if you are using your paddleboard for SUP surfing. More detailed information on paddleboard leashes can be found here on the British Canoeing website.

What leash to wear whilst paddleboarding


4 - Wearing the incorrect clothing and not wearing PFD

Check the conditions before you set out and pack accordingly so that you are not caught out once you are out on the water. Take a spare, dry change of clothes in your dry bag in case you do fall in the water, especially in the colder months. Also make sure you are wearing an appropriate personal flotation device (PFD). These come in all different shapes and sizes depending on what kind of paddling you will be doing and what fit you are looking for and there will be a model to fit all budgets. At Sandbanks Style we stock Baltic personal flotation devices and hold a number of different models, give us a call if you are not sure which will suit your needs best. 

5 - Having the paddle the wrong way around 

It is an easy mistake to make but having the paddle the wrong way around will make paddling your SUP harder as the paddle will travel through the water more efficiently when is the correct way around and you will use less energy. On Sandbanks Style paddleboards you should have the paddle so that you as the paddler can see the Sandbanks logo. Every brand differs so it is worth checking with the supplier however as a general rule of thumb the paddle blade should be vertical as you are pulling it past your hip.

which way round should a sup paddle go

6 - Not learning to self rescue

Before heading out on your paddleboard on longer journeys it is advisable to familiarise yourself with the paddleboard which you have chosen along with the equipment that you will be taking. Make sure that you are able to get yourself back onto your paddleboard in case you do fall off. Most people find either getting back on from the side or the back of the paddleboard is the best way; try different options and see what works best for you. It can be harder to get back onto you paddleboard when you are wearing a buoyancy aid so make sure you are wearing your PFD whilst practising.  

7 - Looking down when paddling

It sounds like an obvious one but balance is key to succeeding in standing up and looking down at your feet or your paddle will cause you to become off balance and probably in the water! To progress at your paddling make sure you are looking ahead or focus on the horizon to help with your balance. 


make sure you look up when paddleboarding
Written by Kristy Hobart

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