I’ve been paddleboarding for a decade or so. And it truly is a wonderful way to explore the world around you, exercise your entire body, and practice a bit of mindfulness on the open water.
SUP always used to be a solo sport for me – a chance to unwind and do things on my own terms. But then I had kids!
So for the last couple of years, I’ve taken my eldest daughter, Evie, out on the water with me. She started as a pudgy little 2-year-old with minimal balance, but she’s now a 4-year-old semi-professional SUP legend! At least I tell her she is…
Why SUP With Kids?
Nothing is better than sharing my board with my daughter. We chat together, sing, dive off the board, seek out dolphins, and hunt for hidden coves together. It’s a wonderful experience as a parent, and I cherish the times we’ve spent on the board – just me and her.
But after 18 months ‘tagging along with dad’, it was soon time for Evie to try paddling with her own board. She now has her very own Cruise Junior and absolutely loves it!
It’s specifically designed for a smaller person, with everything from the paddle to board length scaled down perfectly.
It took her quite some time to get her confidence up, but she can now battle small waves and take longer paddles with ease. But it wasn’t an easy road to get her totally SUP-ready, so here are a few top tips to help get your kids confident on their very own SUP.
Top Tips to SUP With Kids
Always make sure they’re wearing a life jacket and have a leash securely tied to their ankle. Never let them SUP alone unless you’re 100% confident they’re safe to do so.
Start by paddling together
Get them to tag along on your board a fair few times first. They can begin just sitting on the front of the board, then progress to standing in front of you when they feel ready. They can even attempt a few paddles on their own whilst you hold onto them.
Get the right-sized board
As mentioned, Evie has her very own Bluefin Cruise Junior. Getting the correct size for your kids is crucial, as if you start them on a board that’s too big you’re heading for disaster before you’ve even started! The Cruise Junior is 8’ in length – the perfect size for kids and adults under 5’2.
They need to feel 100% safe on the water, and a smaller board is guaranteed to feel more comfortable. A board that’s too big will be intimidating, and they’ll really struggle to achieve balance and proper paddling control.
Begin with kneel paddling
Slow and steady wins the race here. Get them kneeling on their board first, and doing some gentle paddles on flat water.
If they take a tumble or are feeling scared, don’t be afraid to simply call it a day and try again another time. If you keep pushing too hard, they’ll probably never enjoy it and may begin to resent paddling altogether.
Try standing up when they’re ready
Once they’ve mastered the kneeling paddle and are happy to begin standing, now’s the time to give it a go. Begin in shallow, calm water, and hold the board for them the first few times.
Stay close when they go it alone
Once they’re confident with all of the above, they can now try paddling by themselves! Be sure to stay close initially in case of any mishaps, and remember to educate them on proper paddle techniques at this stage. This will prevent them from learning bad habits in the long-run.
Top tips you can give them include paddling with knees slightly bent, keeping the paddle close to the board, and making sure to use their core/back muscles to avoid their arms getting too tired.
Encouragement, encouragement, encouragement!
Throughout all the above stages, positive encouragement is super important. Whether mastering the kneeling paddle or standing up successfully on their own, give them a massive proud hug if they manage it with confidence and a smile on their face.
If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll respond really well to positive reinforcement and motivation.
Keep it fun
Perhaps the most important tip of all – keep things lighthearted and fun! Give them new challenges and tasks as their skills progress, as this will allow them to perfect their technique in an exciting way.
I hope this helps to get your kids paddling on the water. And once they’ve mastered it and are able to enjoy SUP to the full with you, you certainly won’t regret it.
A big Bluefin thank you
Thanks to Paul for writing this blog and also for being an awesome ambassador for Bluefin. You can see more from Paul and his family on his Instagram page – @a_cornish_life.