Every stand up paddleboarder falls in now and again, which is why knowing how to get back on is fundamental. It doesn’t matter what skill level you are; occasionally, falls happen. Whether or not it’s on purpose (you wanted to go for a swim) or you simply lost your balance, at some point, you’ll find yourself treading water next to your board. This article provides several tips on how to fall as well as a full step-by-step rundown of how to get back on your inflatable SUP.

Since falling off is an inevitable part of stand up paddle boarding, knowing how to get back on is essential. But before we get into the process of getting on, let’s discuss the fall. First things first; falling in can be fun, especially when you mean to! Few things are more refreshing than a quick dip in the water while you’re out paddling. Not to mention the opportunities SUPing presents for snorkeling and swimming. Regardless of why you end up in the water, there are a few things to think about before jumping and/or falling in.

Man and woman swimming near Waterwalker SUP

Go for a swim while you’re out on the water to cool off or just for some fun.

How to Fall Off

As always, when you’re out on the water, it’s important to put safety first. A general guideline for all water activities is to always jump in feet first. You can’t always see what’s beneath you (reef, rocks, submerged tree, etc.) and even if the water’s clear, it’s hard to tell the depth accurately. That’s why you should always try your best to enter the water feet first.

Second, you want to fall away from your board and paddle. As you’re falling you may feel the urge to try to grab onto your board, but you’re better off trying to avoid it all together. A fully filled board is quite rigid. Landing on your board or paddle is going to hurt more than simply falling in the water. Since you’re wearing a leash and most SUP paddles are designed to float there’s no chance of losing your gear. So, when you feel yourself ready to go, don’t fight it; jump in and lead with your feet.

Woman attaches leash of Tranquility Yoga SUP

Remember to attach and use your leash while you’re out on the water.

How to Get On

Regardless of why you ended up in the water, it’s now time to get on your board. Thurso Surf’s paddles float, so there’s no need to worry about searching for that just yet. For now focus on swimming back to your board; you can pick up your paddle later. Once you reach your board, swim to the center of it. It’s far easier to get back on from the side rather than the back. Although it’s possible, it’s not as practical with large boards, like SUPs, and better off used by surfers with small shortboards.

Once you’re at the center of your board, grab the center handle with one hand and place your other hand on the board near the rail. After you secure a firm grasp on the handle, you’re ready to kick yourself up onto your board. Make sure your legs are beneath you rather than under the board. This will give you an upward thrust. With your hands in position make several strong kicks, while pulling yourself up with your arms. As you kick and pull, slide yourself up onto your board into prone position (face down, on your stomach). That’s all it takes…you’re back on!

Man helping child get on Thurso Surf Prodigy Junior SUP

Remember to attach and use your leash while you’re out on the water.

Your kicks help you thrust yourself up out of the water, while your arms allow you to pull yourself up onto the board. When you try it yourself you’ll find the balance between kicking and pulling. And now that you’re on your board in prone position, you can use your arms to maneuver yourself. Just like a surfer, from prone position you can use your arms to swim over to your paddle if it’s drifted.

Step by step guide of how to get back on your SUP after falling off

Step 1 – Get Into Position

Swim to the center of your board. Grab the carry handle with one hand and place your other hand near the rail of the board.

Step 2 – Kick and Pull

With your hands in position begin to kick with your feet while simultaneously pulling with your arms. Use your kicks to thrust yourself up out of the water and your arms to pull yourself up onto the board.

Step 3 – Prone to Paddle

From prone position (face down, on your stomach) you can use your arms to maneuver over to your paddle if it got away. Once you have your paddle back, you’re good to go.

If you’re looking for more detailed information on how to get back to your feet, check out our article “How to Stand Up on Your SUP.” As always, have fun out there! Although it can be pretty rare for experienced paddlers, falling off is part of the sport and part of the fun.

Man falling off Thurso Surf Waterwalker paddleboard

Enjoy yourself out there… falling in can be a laugh!

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About the Author: Matt G.

Matt Gelgota is a traveler and all around digital marketing guy. His greatest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile unsupported on and off-road saga from Sweden to Mongolia. He has visited more than 50 countries and has been paddling a Thurso Surf Expedition since 2018. Since then he’s had a chance to paddle board in Nepal, Thailand, Japan, and the US. When he’s not on the road he divides his time between Tokyo and Atlanta, Georgia.

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