Embrace the Ultimate Beginner’s Mindset to Succeed at SUP | Perfect Paddles

In Fresh Content, General, Instructional, Learning, Spotlight by Daniel

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beginner's mindset

In this article, we discuss the ultimate beginner's mindset for SUP and why it is the key to your success on and off the water.


At some point in our lives, we’re all beginners...

And as beginners, we struggle.

Whether it be a sport, hobby, or even a new job...

In the beginning, we're just not good at it. And that's okay...

It's all part of the learning process.

However, even though we know the struggle is part of the process...

Some people still fail, while others succeed.

Why is this the case? What separates those who succeed from those who give up?

The right mindset.

With the right way of thinking and approaching something new, you’re guaranteed to succeed at a faster pace...

And with continued success over the long run.

This is certainly the case when it comes to SUP. Some people love the activity, have fun on the water, and continue with it for the rest of their lives...

While others struggle, give up, and move on.

Since we’re all about enhancing your life with a water-based activity to improve your health, wellness, and social connection, we’re very interested in cultivating a mindset for success...


What does that entail? In this week's newsletter...

We're going to discuss the ultimate beginner’s mindset for SUP and why it’s the most important step towards your success on the water.

But before we get there, we have some great news!

In keeping with this week's theme for beginners...

If you want the perfect place to embrace the beginner's mindset, find a coach near, and take your skills up a level...

That's what Perfect Paddles is all about!

For a limited time only we're offering a 25% discount on a yearly Perfect Paddles membership with code: BEGMIND25

Click HERE to join today!

Take advantage of this one-time savings and use all the features of Perfect Paddles to enhance your time on the water.

Membership benefits include:

  • Member Deals (save huge on lessons, rentals, and trips around the world!)
  • Trip Planning Tools
  • Local Knowledge
  • Community Forum
  • Community Calendar
  • Find A Paddle Buddy

Sign up today and save with code BEGMIND25

Now, let's get to the ultimate beginner's mindset and why it's important to cultivate if you want to have success on the water and in your life...


What Is The Perfect Beginner's Mindset For SUP?

First, let's define what we believe is the perfect beginner's mindset, and then we'll get into how you can cultivate it.

Spending time on the vast expanse of the ocean or really anywhere outside with open space has been shown to promote a space for a calm mind.

Paddlers, in addition to being surrounded by blue above and below, can add to that by interacting so intimately with something that is bigger, and more powerful than themselves.

Mother Nature is ever-changing and a good paddler is rooted in the present moment interacting with every breeze and wave that passes them by.

To take SUP to the level of a daily practice where you get out on the water and find those moments really take your wellness to the next level and it's something unique to paddle sports.

If you want to cultivate the ultimate beginner's mindset for SUP it's a constant balancing act between staying in the present moment, reacting to the changing conditions (swell, boats, wind, etc.), and consciously practicing your movements to increase your comfort and your skills.

So, the perfect beginner's mindset for SUP (and for life) is two-fold:

  1. Present moment awareness which cultivates an almost Zen-like state of mind
  2. Conscious awareness of change coupled with the ability to adapt on the fly

It's almost like being in a warrior-monk mindset. On the water, you are guided by action yet calm and aware in your mind.

At this point, you might be thinking, "How do I create this type of mindset?"

Let's get into it...

beginner's mindset

First: Avoid the Dunning Krueger Effect

What exactly is the Dunning Krueger Effect?

To put it simply, this effect is defined as a cognitive bias whereby people with low ability, expertise, or experience regarding a certain type of task or area of knowledge tend to overestimate their ability or knowledge. Some researchers also include in their definition the opposite effect for high performers: their tendency to underestimate their skills.

This effect takes hold of most beginner paddlers. Why? The answer is simple.

To the inexperienced, stand up paddle boarding looks easy.

It looks relaxing.

And it looks like just about anyone can do it by themselves with absolutely no problems.

That’s the general consensus at least when people observe experienced paddlers take to the water. Their movements are seamless. Easy. And smooth.

But the reason for this observation is that they’ve practiced these motions again and again. To the point where they are as easy as walking down the street.

For the beginner's mindset though, it’s a different story. It’s not unusual to struggle with kneeling on your first time paddling, let alone standing.

Therefore, when starting out, it’s important not to overestimate your abilities. It’s also important not to try it by yourself without the help of a qualified instructor.

You don’t want to be one of those sad stories where people give it a shot on their own, struggle the entire time, and then give up trying again for the rest of their lives.

Instead, avoid this effect, give SUP, the water environment, and your instructor the proper respect. Allow yourself the patience to fail. If you follow these guidelines, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with SUP and keep it as a part of your life for years to come.

beginner's mindset

Second: Practice Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is defined as the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their future status. An alternative definition is that situation awareness is adaptive, externally-directed consciousness that has as its products knowledge about a dynamic task environment and directed action within that environment.

Situational awareness is an important part of SUP. On the water, conditions always change. One minute you can be paddling in a calm back bay, and the next a storm can roll through and you’re facing 20 mph winds.

In addition, things like the tides, the wind directions, boat traffic, wave size and strength, and even fellow paddlers on the water with you can present treacherous situations while on the water.

Due to these ever-changing situations, it’s important to keep your head up, your eyes on the horizon, and be ever-present while on the water. You need to know where any dangerous obstacles are in the water, how they can change at any given moment, and if they do change, how you can adjust to stay safe.

For these reasons, it’s important to cultivate situational awareness as part of your beginner's mindest while on and off the water.

beginner's mindset

Third: Take it Slow

The best thing a beginner can do is take it slow. When you first head onto the water, get comfortable in a kneeling position. Only move on to standing after you’ve become familiar with how it feels to be on the water, in a changing environment.

Once you’re comfortable kneeling, move to an open area away from any obstacles where you can practice standing. Go slow here. Follow along with your instructor, and let them guide you through the steps. Then, after you’re standing, take your time here.

When on the water, the environment is in motion. This makes standing and balancing difficult when you start. There is a high probability that you will fall. This is nothing to feel embarrassed about. In fact, everyone has fallen off their board at one time or another.

When you’re paddling, remember to stick to your technique. The proper paddling technique will help you move through the water with efficiency and ease. But don’t push it too much. Before you start paddling hard, get the technique down until it’s automatic.

When you take things slow on the water, you’re guaranteed to stay safe and have fun through your SUP session.

Bonus: Check out this beginner SUP basics video from Paddling Pro Robert Stehlik...

How to Find Your First Lesson

The best way to find a great instructor in your area is to head to our SUP Search section.

In that section, you can type in your location, and what you want to try on a SUP, and will be presented with a full list of options.

Once you find someone in your area, contact them, ask them for their personalized advice before you head to the water, and once you’re there, have fun!

SUP is a great doorway to a happier, healthier, and more adventurous life. If you can approach the start of your journey with the proper mindset, you’ll have a greater chance of it being an integral part of your life for years to come.

Questions? Comments? Need any clarifications? Give us a shout! We’re here to help you in any way we can. Whether it’s on or off the water.

P.S. Check out a short video below of the Zen Buddhist description of the Beginner's Mindset and how you can use it through every part of your life to grow exponentially.

About the Author


Daniel is a travelling author with a passion for exploring new waterways and sharing his experiences with the world.

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