SUP Basics for Beginners


Guess what, paddling is fun! And yes, you are missing out. If you've never paddle boarded before, there's no reason to wait any longer. What you'll find out first is that paddle boarding is not challenging to learn, and on the right board, it's actually pretty easy to do. To help you get started, we've outlined four easy steps to ensure your paddle boarding experience stands apart.

  1. Choose a paddle board
  2. Get the right gear
  3. Find water
  4. Start paddling


Choosing the right stand up paddle board can be broken down into two simple steps: considering which construction you prefer, and then simply picking the board that fits your size, abilities, and your primary use (ie. recreation, fishing, fitness/yoga, expedition, etc.)

When it comes to paddle board construction, there are essentially two options: inflatable or solid. Most solid paddle boards are epoxy-based construction. BOTE offers epoxy as well as Gatorshell, which is six times tougher than traditional epoxy. BOTE's inflatables utilize our Aero construction, which is more durable and rigid than other inflatables on the market.

It's not challenging to learn, and on the right board, it's actually pretty easy to do.

If space is limited and transportability is a concern, then an inflatable SUP is the way to go. If how you will transport and store your board is a non-issue, or you simply prefer a 'hard paddle board,' then go with an epoxy or Gatorshell paddle board.

Finding the board that fits your body type and abilities is a matter of following these guidelines:


Make sure your weight is at least 50 pounds lighter than the maximum capacity of the board. Also, keep in mind the amount of gear or people you plan to paddle on your board.


LENGTH Are you taller than 5'10"? Do you weight more than 180 pounds? If yes to either, go for 11'6-14' board. If under both, 10'6-11' board. When in doubt, go for the bigger board. Longer and wider boards are more stable.

What Things Should You Take Paddling?

The "basics" to get you on the water safely and having fun are:

  • A paddle and a fin: Both are included with all BOTE boards
  • Life jacket and leash: Both are required in most states, and even if not, they are must-have to make sure you are safe while out on the water.
A woman on a BOTE SUP on the water in front of a dam.

Where Should I Paddle?

Paddling can be enjoyed pretty much anywhere there is water. However, your first time paddling should be in calmer waters with minimal winds. This will allow you to get comfortable on the board much more quickly.


Rackham Aero inflatable paddle board decked out for fishing, being paddled in protected cove and bay of Catalina Island, California

Inland Waterways

BOTE inflatable paddle boards fishing in the Ambergris Caye, Belize flats
BOTE inflatable paddle boards paddled in river of the Nashville, Tennessee hills


Gatorshell Rackham paddle board being paddling in the Boston Harbor, Massachusetts

Lakes or Ponds

Girl sitting on a BOTE Flood Inflatable Paddle Board
HD Aero inflatable paddle board decked out with tackle rac, tackle web, and 5 gallon KULA cooler

HOW Do I Paddle?

Plenty of people start out their very first paddle on their knees. However, with the stability of BOTE Boards, most find it easy to stand up during their first paddle.

A woman adjusting the length of her BOTE paddle.

Get Started

Adjusting to the Correct Paddle Length

  • To determine the correct paddle length for you, stand on flat ground, hold your right arm up above your head and outward at a 45-degree angle. This is roughly how long your paddle should be. Keep in mind that your paddle will be below you in the water as you paddle, so you may need to add an inch or two more than what feels comfortable on flat ground.
  • For a multi-piece adjustable paddle, adjust to the correct length by sliding it to the correct height for you and moving the latch to the locked position.
  • For a one-piece paddle, bring it to any of our stores and our associates will be happy to do this for you.

Get UP

How to Stand Up On Your Paddle Board

  • Get yourself onto your board however feels most comfortable to you, whether it's starting from your knees and using your hands to help yourself stand up, or stepping onto it directly. This will vary depending on where you're at and what's around you (beach, pier, dock, boat, etc.)
  • Position yourself toward the center of the board, use the center handle on the deck of the board as a guide for where your feet should be.
  • Keep your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart, with your toes aimed toward the nose.
  • Have your knees slightly bent, keeping your back straight, while straddling the center handle on the board.
A woman positioning herself toward the center her BOTE paddle board.
A woman paddling her BOTE SUP with her left hand on the handle.

Get Moving

How to Stand-Up Paddle

  • When paddling on your right side, your left hand should be on the handle at the top while your right hand grips the shaft. When you switch sides, reverse your hand positions.
  • Both arms should be mostly straight with a slight bend in the elbows. Try to keep the shaft of the paddle perpendicular to the water.
  • With BOTE paddles, you will find a BOTE Logo on the shaft of paddle near the blade. This logo should face forward while paddling. This will ensure you are using the paddle correctly.
  • Each paddle stroke should begin in front of your body, pulling the blade back along the side of the board until roughly at the arch of your foot area. Repeat. Make sure to get the full blade into the water for maximum efficiency.

Ready for some more in-depth instructions, tips, and tricks? We wrote an in-depth guide that goes into deeper explanation of techniques such as the easiest ways to mount your board, proper paddle technique, and how to do basic and advanced level turns.

We love paddling at BOTE, and we don't want you to miss out on all the experiences that are waiting for you out on the water.

We love paddling at BOTE, and we don't want you to miss out on all the experiences that are waiting for you out on the water. That's why we've launched our all-new inflatable paddle board, the Breeze Aero. This is perfect beginner option for those in need of a smaller, affordable, yet stable board. Now utilizing our innovative AeroULTRA Technology, this board is even lighter than our other inflatables, making portability, well, a Breeze.

For those who want to take things a step further on your paddle boarding journey, check out our recommended BOTE paddle boards for any activity.

There's no reason to wait, get paddling.

Shop All Purpose Paddle Boards
Shop Fitness Paddle Boards
Shop Fishing Paddle Boards
A toddler on a BOTE paddle board with her mother wading in the water next to her.
A man in hunting gear paddling down a woodsy river on his BOTE paddle board.
A couple sitting on their BOTE cooler at their campsite, near their Paddle Boards.