Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is an extremely popular and fun sport for people that love the outdoors and spending time in and on the water. It is great for fitness, relaxation, and exploration; and getting started is both easy and affordable.

The first step is to get the proper equipment. Beginners will need a board, paddle, leash, PDF (personal flotation device), and proper clothing. All of this can be picked up at virtually any outdoors and recreation store.

While boards can be purchased for a relatively reasonable price, it’s never a bad idea to rent a board from a local SUP shop. That way you can try it out with relatively low risk in case you find that SUP isn’t for you.

For the paddle, you will need to make sure it sized properly for your height. A good rule of thumb is to stand the paddle next to you and reach your arm up over you head. The paddle should reach to your wrist.

PDFs and leashes are for personal safety. Surf zones often don’t require PDFs, but they are never a bad idea for beginners as you may find yourself in the water more than anticipated as you learn the sport. The leash on the other hand is something that all SUP enthusiasts should use. As the name suggests, it is a line that connects you to your board so in the event of a fall, the board doesn’t float away from you or crash into something or someone.

Once you have your equipment, it is all about getting to the water and seeing what this sport is all about. While rough waters are definitely a scene where some paddle boarders find their thrills, most prefer calm waters with low winds. Many parks have designated SUP areas that are perfect for beginners.

Learning to paddle is an easy venture. The trick is to take things slow and work your way up. Start by wading into the water with your board until you are about knee deep and then set your knees on the board. From here you’ll want to practice paddling around on your knees before venturing into deeper water. Once you are comfortable with that, you can move into deeper water and try standing up. The deeper water is a safety precaution as you don’t want to take a spill into shallow water while standing. The hardest part is keeping your balance, but that takes practice and as long as you keep your feet straight and your knees bent, you should be rocking that board like a pro in no time.