Day 1 – Popping up on a Small Paddle Board

Erik Antonson
Erik Antonson
May 15, 2016


Alright!  Let’s learn how to paddle a smaller board.  I’m committed to 7 days of practice to surf a smaller board…  Please let me know what’s working for you or your tips/tricks that could help me or other folks out.  Commenting below is the best way, then it’s here forever!

The board I’m riding for this quick video is a 7.9×27 at 88L.  It floats me well and it’s overall pretty stable.  I weigh in at 83KG, so I have a few extra pounds of float.  I figured it would be easier to see the foot work with the board out of the water.

Today I break down the best practice to get up on a small paddle board. It will be up in about 30 min on

A video posted by paddlewoo (@paddlewoo) on


Here we go…

SUP Pop Up - 1

This is just a normal sitting position.  I prefer to keep my paddle blade on my right side as that’s where I want it when I pop up.  It’s a quick maneuver and I have a single second if I’m lucky to get the blade in the water for balance before I fall.  So having the blade on the right side is key.

SUP Pop Up - 2

The first step is to lean forward and get your weight on your hands.  They will be just in front of your legs.  Notice that I have my right hand, toe side bottom hand, on the paddle in the spot where I hold it to paddle.  You can’t see it in this image, but my back foot is starting to swing behind me.  I pop up in surf stance.  Back foot swings behind and the front foot will come up through my arms.

SUP Pop Up - 3

Here if you look closely you can se the back foot toes finding the board.  I won’t need to move my foot from this point.

Sidenote:  When I first started popping up from seated… first I started paddling fast and popping up like I was surfing, but I found that was actually harder.  Then I switched to popping up, almost like jumping, both feet at the same time, but there was too much motion and chance of where you land and how your weighted.  I have found that although this pop up that I’m describing happens super fast, it is very fluid and there’s no loss of contact with the board.  You can even do it slow at times if the situation calls for it.

So, back foot swinging under and almost all weight is on the hands.

SUP Pop Up - 4

Back foot is grounded and front foot is coming up.  This is a pretty stable stance as you have 3 points of balance.  Depending on your board size you could maintain this position.  Once my front foot comes out here I’m sinking, so the clock is ticking.

SUP Pop Up - 5

Front foot coming up.  Notice that my head and eyes are pointed forward on the horizon.  Normally, I’d be tracking a wave or looking out at the set coming in.

SUP Pop Up - 6

Front foot is now in surf stance.  I wrote a guide on surf paddle stance and different stances, if you haven’t read them I’d suggest it.

Notice that my top hand is finding the paddle.  Once you get control of the paddle with the blade in the water you’re in a very stable position.  This is the position that I’ll wait in the lineup in instead of sitting down sometimes.  You’re in surf stance so you can catch a wave in 2 second with two or three strokes.

SUP Pop Up - 7

Same stance, full control of paddle.  Blade buried.  It’s better to have your blade buried beneath the water because you can control to both directions by pulling up on the water or pushing down.  I do this when I stand now too, but learned it in this stance.

SUP Pop Up - 8

Transitioning from crouch to paddling.  When you stand up, you’re going to sink your board more… when sinking you always want to sink tail first.  I call it the hole, and coming out of the hole.  If you can maintain tail down and nose out of the water, you can pull yourself out of the hole with a big stroke.  Remember yesterday when I said shorter paddles will help you… this is one of those situations.

SUP Pop Up - 9

Notice that beautiful paddle 🙂  You can get a 20% discount by using promo code Paddlewoo.  1 Year in and haven’t broken one 27N paddle.

I’m in full surf stance here.  It’s efficient to pop up in surf stance as you have zero steps needed to take off on a wave.  In this photo I’ve just pulled myself out of the hole and now I’m on top of the water.

SUP Pop Up - 10

Figured I’d show you the correct way to sit down while we’re at it… It’s easier than popping up.  Step 1 is to find your board with your hands.  Same position as popping up.  Let go of the top hand of your paddle.

SUP Pop Up - 11

Weight is now on the hands.  Back foot unweights first.  Then you do a little jump off the board to a seated position.

SUP Pop Up - 12

And your done.

Now, go practice and let me know how it’s going below!  Comments and shares motivate me to do these blogs.

If you love popping up on flat water, then you’d really love getting tubed at offshore beach breaks in Costa Rica!  Contact us to find out the best time to get the waves you’d like to surf.


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  • Cross your paddle so the handle get aligned to the border; place your hands over the paddle; pop-up in a paralell or surf stance while keeping the blade in the water and using traction as soon as possible in order to help with balance.
    That’s my trick!
    I weight 74kg and ride a 6,7/26/4 supwave board.

  • Bernardo

    So do you only pop up when you are about to catch a wave? I have a 7 10 Airborne and I have been struggling to stand up in choppy conditions. Can only paddle on clean conditions, but only used racing stance, haven’t tried normal or surfing stance for paddling.

    • Ucycle

      Im only standing when i catching a wave or paddling to keep up with the current. Something do the kneeling stance if the wave frequency is high.
      I weight little over 80kg and ride a 7’4x26x3-3/4 board. I do the same popup but in surf stance and parallel stance 50/50 percent of the time. I think the key with learn at the beginning is to look forward toward the horizon. If you look down your brain will adjust and shift the weight forward(your head point down and back tilt forward) and you will fall down. It took me about a month or two for my brain to re-calibrate on smaller board. Its like this every time i get a smaller board, thinking i hit the limit but you will be surprise. So keep trying even in rough condition.

  • Jassica Smith

    Great move and that tips is amazing.

  • Paulo Costa

    Excellent tutorial!

  • Jassica Smith

    great post and basics are very clear.

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