Paddle boarding can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be a little bit scary the first time you try it. One of the most common fears is falling off of the board and into the water. But don’t worry – if you do fall off, there are a few things that you can do to get back on safely and efficiently.
In this article, we will teach you how to get back on a paddleboard after falling off, as well as some tips for staying safe while out on your paddle board.
Falling Off Safely and Then Getting Back on a Paddle Board
Is Paddle Boarding Dangerous?
SUP is generally a very safe sport, but there are always risks involved when you are doing any sort of water activity.
The biggest risk while paddle boarding is falling off of your board and into the water – too shallow and you could bang yourself on the bottom or on rocks, too deep and you may not be able to get back on your board after a fall.
Reading the following tips should help the complete novice paddler stay safe.
For your own safety wearing a USCG-approved personal floatation device (type III) is a legal requirement.
Don’t Reach for Your Board
If you find yourself losing your balance and you know you’re about to fall, your first instinct will likely be to reach for your board. This is actually the opposite of what you should do. Instead, try to fall away from the board and into the water. If you bang yourself on the board as you fall you could injure yourself, and then the whole SUP trip is ruined! So always try to fall away from your board.
Remember, by using a board leash there is zero risk of your board getting away from you when you do fall in.
If you are in shallow water and find yourself falling off of your paddle board, there are a few things that you can do to minimize the risk of injuring yourself on the bottom. First, try to fall flat on your stomach or back, as this will help to distribute the impact of the fall evenly across your body.
You should also try to keep your head above water as much as possible, as this will help to prevent any injuries to your head or neck. Making sure your body is flat (either on your back or your stomach) limits the risk that you’ll bump into something just below the surface, causing injury.
Try Not to Drop Your Paddle
Your paddle is how you get around on the paddle board so it’s important to try and hang onto it when you fall. Sometimes everything happens so fast when you fall that you lose track of what your hands are doing so don’t be surprised if you end up letting go. If you can though, keep a grip on it as you fall into the water.
Paddles are designed to float (for good reason), so if you find yourself without yours in hand, check around you – it’s probably floating somewhere nearby.
It is always best though to make sure to get your board first and then use the prone paddle boarding technique to retrieve it.
Avoid Getting Hit with the Board
Although it’s important to fall away from your board to avoid accidental injury, you also don’t want to lose track of where your board goes. Most paddlers use a board leash around their ankle, so falling off your board and into the water might drag that board back to you much quicker than expected.
To avoid getting rocked in the face with your own paddle board, try your best to maintain a sense of awareness around your leashed ankle and where the board is at all times.
In The Water
If you’re confident in the water, then falling in won’t be a big deal, but not everyone is an experienced enough swimmer to feel safe in open deep water – even when attached to a giant paddle board.
So the first thing you need to do in the water is to stay calm. SUP is a water sport after all, so you will inevitably end up in the water at sooner rather than later.
If you can remain calm, then you’ll be able to assess the situation and figure out the best way to get back on your board.
Getting Back on Your Board
Getting back on your paddle board after falling in is actually easier than you might think, even in deeper waters . Most boards have carry handles that you can use to pull yourself back on with.
To get back on your paddle board, swim up next to it in the water and grab the carry handle closest to you.
Then pull yourself up until you can grab the carry handle farthest from you. Once you have a hold of both handles, bring your feet to the surface of the water and use strong kicks while pulling yourself onto the board (or while pulling the board underneath you).
This will allow you to slide on top of the board with your stomach, and from there you can get yourself into the prone position.
Standing Back up
Experienced paddlers can easily stand on a stationary board but as a beginner this can prove difficult. This is especially true if you are on the ocean with a tide and sea breeze to contend with.
You will find it hard to balance and as the board starts to tip your legs will try to compensate by moving weight from one side to the other. The rocking will just get worse and you’ll soon find yourself taking another quick dip.
The trick to getting back on your feet is to get a bit of speed up. Come up from the prone position and get yourself into the kneeling position. Start paddling while kneeling and build up some speed.
Then when ready, place your hands (whilst still holding the paddle) on the board in front of you.
Come up to a squat position with your feet now below your shoulders and then slowly stand and start paddling to get back the momentum lost whilst you performed the manoeuvre.
Make sure you stay centered and facing the front.
What Is Paddle Boarding?
SUP is a water sport that involves standing on a board and using a paddle to propel yourself through the water. It originated in various cultures around the world, but was made particularly famous in Hawaii.
It can be done in both calm and rough waters, on sea or inland waterways and is a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the outdoors. SUP is not hard to learn learn, which makes it perfect for beginners.
Falling off of your paddle board is inevitable, especially if you’re just starting out. But don’t worry, with a little practice (and following these tips), getting back on your board will become second nature! Before you know it, you might even find yourself enjoying the challenge of paddle boarding in rougher waters. Who knows, maybe you’ll even want to try surfing one day!