Catching your first waves on a SUP

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Catching your first waves on a Stand up paddle board

Catching your first waves on a SUP

In this article we’re gonna take a basic look at catching your very first wave on your SUP Board and really especially looking at the footwork required.

Now it sounds easy but getting your timing board and foot positioning right to get you on to the wave does take practice whatever your paddling ability. There’s nothing more annoying than watching the perfect wave just pass you by.

So if it’s your first time out on the waves here’s what you should be doing to give you the best chances of catching your first waves.

Firstly get your feet out of parallel stance and slightly in an offset surfing stance. By this I mean one foot slight in front of the other.


Removing your feet water flow and standing in surf stance does take practice so if you get the chance it’s always good to practice on flat water first. Ideally you want to have them sideways in surf stance but to start off with just try moving them a little bit.

There is a number of reasons for getting your feet in the surf stance position for catching your first wave;

Firstly it helps you turning your board. Being able to turn quickly and position your board correctly is essential to give you the best chance of catching a wave.

When you’re catching your first waves ideally you want to be pointing straight towards the beach chances are when you start off the wave will pass you by before you’ve even had a chance to turn around. So, whether you’re turning using a sweep stroke or pivot turn having your feet slightly offset allows you to turn more quickly by using the tail of your board to pivot.

It also means your feet are in the right position and you’re ready to go as soon as the wave arrives.

Another benefit of having your feet in surf stance is that it allows you to get in a more stable position, which means that there’s less chance of being knocked off by the wave.

Now that you have a nice wide surf stance with your knees bent, get your body and center of gravity low. You’d be amazed the difference this makes if you try catching away with your feet and parallel stance and your legs straight I can guarantee even the best sub surfers will end off falling off the back of the board.

Having your feet in surf stance also allows you to easily move your body weight forward and back without necessarily having to move your feet.

This movement is essential to help you get down the wave and not nosedive at the bottom.

With your knees bent and your body low as a wave picks you up from behind lean slightly forward onto your front leg pushing the nose of the board down the wave. If you don’t do this the wave is likely to pass underneath you leaving you waiting for the next wave.

Once you’re on the wave of moving forward adjust your body weight back again onto more of your back foot. This will help lift the nose of the board and stop the board from nose-diving. Going headfirst over the front of your board can happen when you starts up surfing but it can be easily avoided so getting your feet in a slight surf stance and your body low.

When getting in SUP surfing you’ve got to think about your paddle as well.

When paddling in surf stance you probably find it easier to hold your paddle on the opposite side of your front leg. Doing this will keep you balanced. Now try paddling on both sides when you’re in surf stance and you’ll soon
work out which is the easiest side to paddle on.

So when starting up to catch your wave remember to aim straight towards the beach ideally 90 degrees from the wave.

It’s really important when you first starts off surfing so remember these main points:

Get your feet in surf stance;

Get low 

Adjust your body weight

Hold your paddle on the opposite side of your front leg.

Follow these basic steps and you will soon be getting control of those first waves.

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