Top Tips for First Time Paddlers

Know Before You Go – Here’s how to prepare for your first time on board. 


Paddleboarding is the world’s fastest-growing sport for a good reason – it doesn’t take too long to pick up the basics.  Here are few tips to help make that first session the absolute best.

1 Wear the right kit

Don’t worry, Paddleboarding London has got you covered for this.  We’ll give you a buoyancy aid and if you’ve got specs or sunglasses a strap to stop them from slipping into the water.  Dress in what you’d wear for a yoga class or gym session.  Most people keep their feet dry when they paddleboard, but so you don’t stress about your footwear please wear old trainers, beach shoes or neoprene booties on your feet.  We also lock up your valuables, so you don’t need to take your phone out on the water.

2 Will I fall off?

We’ll give you an intro to paddleboarding skills off the water, and then we start paddling on our knees which is very stable.  When you feel ready, we’ll help you stand up on your board, from your knees.  We think about 1:20 of our newbie paddlers get wet, so you’re probably not going to fall off. But it’s a good plan to have some dry clothes to change into, just in case!  We’ll also give you a demo about how to get back on to your board.  Really there’s no need to panic as you can swim and you’ll be wearing a nice, floaty buoyancy aid.


3 Remember the Film Don’t Look Up

Joking… but like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the film Don’t Look Up made clear, you need to look up.  Staring at the water, or your paddle, makes paddleboarding difficult.  Worse, it may mean you may bump into the person in front of you and knock them into the water.  Looking up has the bonus that you’ll see all the amazing people and wildlife along the Regent’s Canal or at St Katharine Docks.

4 Keep your feet still

To stand-up paddleboard, keep your knees gently bent and your feet stationary on either side of the paddleboard’s central point (usually a handle). For anyone who has ridden a horse or tried skiing, then it’s going to feel a very natural stance.  It’s a comfy position.

5 Stay chatty

Paddleboarding is a great way to chat.  But speaking up is also a good idea to make sure the person in front of you knows if you are getting a bit close to them.  A word of warning will give them time so they can drop to their knees instead of being given a surprise bump into the water.

6 What if I’m a lefty?

There’s no need to worry as paddleboarding paddles are identical for left-handers and right-handers.  That’s because you swap sides every few strokes to keep the board moving forward on a smooth straight course.

7 Follow the waterway rules

On the canal paddleboarders stay on the right so that the bigger narrowboats and other craft can safely pass.  It’s a good idea to avoid being under a bridge when any boats are passing – we’ll just stop and watch. And don’t worry we won’t be going through a tunnel.  Finally, don’t rock the boats where people are living.  You may think grabbing a big boat is going to stop you wobbling, but it’s a top reason for learners plopping into the water. Basically, you turn into a cartoon character gripping on to the big boat as your legs and paddleboard drift away – which is funny for everyone, but you.


BONUS – Any final tips?

Yes: paddleboarding really is as easy as 1,2,3 – so good luck and have fun. We’ll take loads of photos during your intro and tour so that you’ll be able to share with friends and family how quickly you picked up the paddleboarding vibe. Our paddleboard coaches are obsessed with paddling on Regent’s Canal, so we hope you’ll fall in love with this wonderful new sport too. See you on the water soon.

Ready to test your paddle prowess?  We’ve got three ways for beginners to get on board: 

Lesson & Tours are suitable for total beginners and take place daily in Camden and Hackney.  With a max guest/instructor ratio of 5:1 you’ll have plenty of personalised attention from the team. 

Learn 2 SUP sessions are for those who want a bit more time to take things at a slower pace.  These sessions are held weekly in Hackney and St Katharine Docks and have a max ratio of 6:1, but take place at quieter times and locations. 

Private Lessons are available at any of our locations on a date and time of your choice.  You’ll have a coach all to yourself (or bring a friend along too) and can tailor the session to your needs.  

See the full schedule of sessions here or email us with any questions

Hope to see you on the water soon!

– The Paddleboarding London Team


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