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What Age can my Kids Do Stand-Up Paddleboarding?

27 December 2022

As one of the most popular water sports of recent years, Stand up Paddleboarding (SUP) is something we are sure you have been hearing about. The younger generation in particular have embraced this seeming amalgamation of surfing and kayaking. 

Adult Stand Up Paddleboards are a bit wider than a normal surfboard, allowing for easier balance when standing up and they are traditionally used in calmer waters. The aim isn’t to ride a wave but to paddle through the calm water sedately, looking like nothing so much as a gondolier, on holiday from Venice. 

Taking part in this activity in the UK, unlike in some warmer climes where the water is more bearable normally requires a wetsuit. This is  in order to protect the wearer from the harshness of the cold water and some of the risks that stem from that.  If you are keen for your children to learn to SUP then it may be worth investigating wetsuits as a first step and getting them used to how they feel in the water. 

It is normally advised that children are not allowed on their own paddleboard until at least the age of five, and even then they should be closely supervised. Until then, they can hitch a ride with their parents to see how it is done. It will definitely make it a lot more challenging balance-wise but won't diminish the fun one iota! 

A primary consideration when they are on their own board is to ensure that the board isn’t too big for them. This also extends to the paddles. Adult paddles are too heavy, difficult and unwieldy for younger children to use. There are generally smaller boards and paddles available for children at most watersports centres. 

Safety Tips

  • It is very important that your child knows how to swim before embarking on an attempt to paddleboard. This may sound like very basic safety advice but it is important nonetheless to ensure their wellbeing.   

  • Another important safety feature is a SUP-leash, this will ensure that the children are tethered to the paddleboard, which will always float because they are inflatable. In case of emergency, they will never be separated from the board and can cling onto it if they have to. 

  • In a similar vein, life jackets are another important piece of kit that they should really learn to use as standard when they start their SUP journey. It is good practice for everyone to wear one, even the adults and you can never be too careful with some of the currents in the different waterways around the UK. 

Manage your own and their expectations. No matter how much you personally may love SUP as a pastime, it is likely that the kiddos won't be very good at it at first. So much of it relies on balance and that is something that some children take a bit longer to develop. Have patience with them and encourage them, no matter how frustrating it may feel in the moment, as they fall off for the umpteenth time in a row. 

Most of all, just relax and enjoy it, that is what Stand Up Paddleboarding is all about! 

Photo by Pascal Bernardon on Unsplash

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