How to Paddle Board with Your Kids
For anyone looking for an outdoor sport for their kids that is fun and has several benefits, stand up paddleboarding (SUP) might be exactly what they need. SUP can teach kids several skills while helping with both physical and mental development. The fun element of the sport keeps kids interested, making SUP a must try adventure for the whole family.
When it comes to paddleboarding, there are a few tips that should be kept in mind. Like cycling, the sport depends largely on balance, which is why initially there will be a few falls and missteps. When teaching kids to SUP, patience and encouragement are the key. Parents who are already experienced with SUP will find that sharing the experience with their child is an amazing way to bond.
Top Tips when Paddle Boarding with Kids
- Make it fun: Kids are very resilient, but even for them, learning a new skill can get frustrating sometimes. Letting them know that SUP is fun and that its okay to make a few mistakes along the way, will take the stress off the child and let them enjoy the process.
- Get the right gear: Young children, especially those who are just starting off, could benefit from using the right paddle boarding gear. Shorter and wider boards help them balance better and the right sized paddle offers the best support. You’ll also need a way to transport your gear, the most recommended way is using a roof rack for your paddleboard.
- Get the right type of boards: Full-sized paddle boards are 11ft, but most children do better on shorter boards which are eight or nine feet long. Inflatable boards are also preferred by beginners as they make falls less painful. Older kids might be able to get started on a full-sized board and pick up navigational skills fairly quickly.
- Paddle length: Adjustable paddles are ideal for growing children because the length can be adjusted according to their height. A paddle whose blade starts at eye-level of the child when stood up straight, is the perfect length.When paddling in surf and shorter blade works well, while a longer blade is better suited for calm water.
- Getting started: If the child is completely new to SUP, then they should get started on calm water on a lake. Children find it easier to learn balance on a paddleboard where there is no current tossing the board about. Once they have got their balance they can always progress to light surf.
- Safety first: It goes without saying that a child needs to have their life jacket on at all times when in the water. It is also necessary to have adult supervision either on a paddleboard close to the child or in the water. Another useful safety tip is to have an ankle leash connecting the child to the board in case the child falls into the water. There are several child-specific life jacket options to choose from!
How to Get Started
- The child can start on calm water while kneeling on the center of the board.
- Gradually, as they get their balance and are more comfortable on the board, they can try to stand up.
- The child should first get familiar with paddling while standing before being taught techniques like turning the board, paddling faster, paddling slower and so on.
- It is also important that kids are taught how to get back on the board after falling off. A bit of deliberate falling off just to practice getting back on is actually a good idea.
- Kids should get familiar with both SUP on calm water and SUP on surf.
Advantages of SUP for Kids
Here are some of the advantages of getting kids involved in SUP:
- SUP trains kids to have improved balance and muscle coordination. In doing so, SUP enhances the overall athletic skills of a child.
- SUP helps build muscle.
- SUP helps to improve the posture of a child by building core strength and keeping several muscles engaged at the same time.
- SUP helps build stamina and increase energy levels of children.
- SUP helps build focus.
The Final Verdict
There is no doubt that stand up paddleboarding is a fun sport for kids of all ages that comes with many added benefits. People might decide to teach their child the skill themselves or enroll them for a class- regardless, it is a good idea and will hopefully familiarize them with a lifelong passion!