Choosing a Stand Up Paddle Board Instructor

Choosing a SUP Instructor

Everyone should try stand up paddle boarding. It’s a traditional Hawaiian sport, and you won’t get any closer to walking on water. We think that learning how to stand up paddle board through an instructor is the easiest and best way to learn. There are so many instructors and companies that can teach you, so how do you pick one?

Client Recommendation

We believe that recommendations from other clients and paddle boarders are going to tell you more than any website or advertisement. Talk to other paddle boarders and ask about the instructors they used. They’ll be able to tell you about their experience, if the instructor was easy to understand and how they felt after their sessions.


We know that cost is usually a factor for any decision, and choosing a paddle board instructor is no different. You need to look at the cost and decide what your budget is. We know that this isn’t the only consideration, and that the instructors with the highest prices aren’t necessarily the best or most suitable for your needs. The instructors with the cheapest prices aren’t necessarily the least qualified or the worst either. But most people will need to factor the cost in when they’re looking for an instructor.


When you’re finding an instructor, think about the location. There may be somewhere in particular that you really wanted to be able to paddle board. Find an instructor that can offer that location. Also, you don’t want to find the most suitable instructor, only to find that they’re based to far away. Academy of Surfing Instructors has a list of certified instructors in many locations, so it’s a good place to begin your search.


The qualification of the instructor may be the most important factor. There’s many types of SUP qualification, and each of them offer different aspects of paddle boarding. You need to decide why you want to learn paddle boarding. If you want to use it as a way of keeping fit, then an instructor with a PaddleFit qualification might be better suited to you. The PaddleFit qualification focuses on the fitness and exercise aspects to paddle boarding a little more than any of the other qualifications. So look for an instructor that suits your needs and what you want to get out of the experience. The SUP Instructor website gives a good overview of each qualification, and which areas they focus on.


Some instructors provide all the equipment you would need for your session, the paddle, the board, even a wet suit. Other instructors can rent you the equipment for an extra cost, and for others you need to bring your own equipment. If you already have all the equipment then this won’t have any affect on your decision. If you don’t have any equipment, you might not want to spend any money on hiring or buying equipment.


It doesn’t matter if the instructor teaches full time, or as a sideline. You should be to call or email and get a response reasonably quickly. An instructor who doesn’t respond to your queries may not be the best one for you.

We know that you have many things to consider that will influence which instructor you ultimately choose. And the internet is a great research tool. has some tutorial videos by certified instructors that will give you an idea of their teaching methods and personality.

This video shows you the basics of stand up paddle boarding, and explains the stance and motions. It’s very useful, but we don’t think anything will beat having the experience with a certified instructor.

Learn how to deepbreath with Laird Hamilton


Whether you’re surfing, climbing, or skiing, deepbreathing calms your body and readies your muscles for movement.

by Laird Hamilton

People don’t think much about breathing. Of all the things we take for granted, breathing has to be number one — even though it’s our main source of life and energy. When I started focusing on my breathing, I became a stronger athlete and was better able to control my levels of effort and pain.

One of the best ways to become more conscious of your breath is to start breathing through your nose instead of your mouth. Deep nose breathing brings the breath deeper into your diaphragm — the muscle that separates your lungs from your stomach — you can actually feel your diaphragm expand when you nose-breathe. This causes your abdomen to expand, creating a downward pressure on your stomach that forces air into your lungs and increases blood flow to and from your heart. Abdominal breathing also improves the flow of lymph, which contains white blood cells, helping boost your immune system. And if you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you know that diaphragmatic breathing is relaxing.

If you stick to mouth breathing, the air you inhale will expand only your rib cage, unless you really focus on bringing the breath deep into your abdomen. Nose breathing forces you to diaphragm-breathe more often. This is why some long-¬distance runners will try to breathe through the nose, and if you ever see a boxer start to breathe through his mouth in a fight, people will say, “He’s done.” Because once a guy goes to breathing through his mouth, he’s just desperate for more oxygen.

You have to practice nose breathing for it to be a natural habit. Sometimes I’ll try to nose-breathe for an entire day. Or I’ll bike or run and try to breathe through my nose the whole time. This forces you to be more efficient because it cranks up your heart rate — any time you’re air-deprived, your heart rate gets jacked up — and increases the difficulty of your workout. So when you return to normal breathing, exercise feels easier, and you should be able to bump up your pace and intensity.

Getting pounded by heavy surf taught me how important it is to breathe deep. When your head pops out of the water for only a second, you have to learn to suck in as much air as deeply and quickly as possible. When you feel vulnerable, like when you’re surfing big waves, rock climbing, or skiing downhill, your breathing becomes fast and shallow, decreasing the amount of oxygen getting to your blood and muscles and limiting your ability to react quickly. But if you breathe deeply, you calm your body and ready your muscles to move.

When women give birth, they’re told to breathe through the pain. The same is true when you’re weightlifting or doing anything strenuous. Breathing deeply and exhaling consciously will increase how much effort you can give and improve your sense of well-being. When I’m getting deep-tissue massage and it’s excruciating, if I hold my breath, it hurts twice as bad. But if I breathe through it, it’s as though I can exhale the pain out and relieve it through my breath.

View the full Men’s Journal article here

Image credit: Photograph by Ture Lillegraven