Top tips on how to get started in stand up paddle boarding this summer

11/07/2020 | Chilly Powder

As the sun continues to shine in the French Alps, and summer is officially underway, we caught up with the team from Gili Sports for their tips on how to get started with one of the most popular water sports in the world right now …  stand up paddle boarding (SUP).

We’re blessed to have lots of beautiful lakes close to Chilly Powder including Lac de Montriond, Lake Annecy and Lake Geneva, with SUP being a great way to have fun on the water whilst exercising and working your core.

Get the right equipment

It seems like an obvious place to start, but stand up paddle boarding requires quite a lot of equipment. First let’s start with the essentials: 

  • Stand up paddle board
  • Paddle
  • PFD (Personal Flotation Device)
  • Leash

For beginner SUPers, the most important thing when choosing a board is stability. If you’re looking for a solid board, something wide and thick is the best option. However, an inflatable paddle board is also a good place to start - and this is the easiest type of SUP to transport. 

Next is the paddle, which should be about 25cm longer than your height. For those who are planning to buy their equipment rather than rent, the paddle should cost roughly 1/5th of what the board costs. 

The remaining components you need are for safety above all else. A personal flotation device will keep you afloat should you fall off the board, while the leash will keep you attached. Hopefully, you will not need to use these too much when out on the board!

Other equipment that is useful but not essential includes:

  • Dry Bag
  • Waterproof phone case
  • Sunscreen
  • Water

If you chosen not to buy you can also rent, with some helpful links below for local rental locations:

Lac de Montriond      

Thonon les Bains

Lake Geneva  


Start somewhere calm with plenty of space

Beginner SUPers are likely to be using muscles that they’re not used to using in everyday life. For that reason, it’s important to master your balance before heading out onto a river, lake, or even the sea. The best place to do so is on a body of water which is as still and calm as possible (Lac de Montriond is perfect!) 

The best place to start on the board is on your knees in the middle of the board. When attempting to stand, you should do so one foot at a time. It may take a while to get used to it, but attempting to stand on calm waters will definitely help you to become assured on your board.  

Not only is it important to take it slowly, but you’ll also have to make sure you have plenty of space. While SUPing is a great activity to do with a partner or a group of family/friends, when starting off you’ll need room around your board in case you fall off. Yes, it does happen and no, it shouldn’t put you off. Even the best SUPers started somewhere!

Having plenty of space on calm waters means that you’ll reduce risk of injury - to yourself and others.  


Learn to take a fall

While nobody wants to fall off their stand-up paddle board, it is inevitable it will happen at some point. Even those who have been doing it for years have bad days and lapses in concentration.

However, those who have practiced SUPing for a long time know how to take a fall. It’s something that can really help you as a beginner too.

The secret is to fall away from the board, which minimises the risk of injury. Even smacking your face off an inflatable board can be painful. If you have listened to our earlier advice about a leash, then you do not need to worry about losing your board when falling in the middle of a river or lake. You’ll be tethered to it.


Face the right direction

Now that you’re a little more confident with most of the basics, it’s time to think about how to get moving on your paddle board. First, check that the fins are at the rear of the board so you know you’re standing in the right place. Then, you need to decide on a direction. And that’s when things get tricky. 

The natural reaction is to look down at your feet or the paddle, to make sure that you’re planted and stable on the board. However, with SUPing, it’s important that you are always looking in the direction you’re going in. This means that you have maximum balance and stability. Try not to worry - everything else will sort itself out. 


Know your limits

Last but not least when it comes to learning to stand up paddle boarding is knowing your limits. SUPers who do not pay attention and time into learning the basics are putting themselves at risk of injury, and they’re less likely to enjoy SUPing. Once you’ve mastered the key parts of stand-up paddle boarding, it can open you up to new possibilities on your board.

For example, you could try SUP fishing or SUP yoga.

Now you know the best way to start stand up paddle boarding…

All that’s left to do is get out on the water and have fun!

For more tips and advice on Stand Up Paddle Boarding click here. When you’re staying with us, you can also chat to Nick or Cosmin who will be more than happy to help provide more advice on the best places to SUP near Chilly Powder and help get you started.