Falling Off and Getting Back on a Stand Up Paddle Board

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This article is part of our series: Intro to SUP: How to Paddle Board

paddle boarder falling off their paddle board

No matter how hard you try to stay balanced on your paddle board, you're going to fall into the water at some point. Even the most experienced paddlers take the plunge from time to time. So, if you're feeling wobbly, don't worry about it and remember, SUP is a watersport, so it's OK to get wet.

For those inevitable times when you do lose your balance, this video shows you:

  • How to fall off a SUP: Try to fall away from the board and flat against the water.
  • How to get back on: While treading water alongside your board, grab the carry handle with one hand and pull yourself up until you can reach the opposite rail. Then kick hard and pull yourself on.

Video: Falling & Getting Back On a SUP

Tips for Falling Off a SUP

a kayaker falling away from their board

When you're about to fall off your paddle board, make sure you:

  1. Fall away from the board: Your instinct might be to try and grab your board as you fall, but landing on your board hurts and can result in an injury. If you get too wobbly and know you're going overboard, commit to falling off and aim yourself to the side, off the front or off the back.
  2. Fall flat: Falling flat on the water, either with a belly flop or back flop, will help keep your body shallow so you're less likely to hit anything lurking below the surface.
  3. Hang onto your paddle: If you can, hang onto your paddle while falling. But, if it accidentally slips out or you decide to intentionally toss it, no worries. Retrieve your board first and get back on, then paddle with your hands to get the paddle.
  4. Watch for your board: It's always recommended to paddle with a board leash, but that leash can cause your SUP to come back to you quickly when you fall off, especially if you're using a coiled leash. Be ready, and if you want, put your hands up in front of your face for protection.

How to Get Back on a SUP

a paddle boarder getting bracing their hands on the board to get back on it after falling off

After you've taken a swim and you're ready to get back on:

  1. Grab the carry handle: Position yourself next to your board and near the center. Grab the handle with one handle and pull yourself up until you can reach the opposite rail with your other hand.
  2. Kick: Let your legs float up to the surface behind you, then kick your legs while pulling on the handle and rail to slide yourself onto the board.

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