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RSW Living Magazine

What’s SUP? Try Standup Paddleboarding With Kids

Feb 26, 2018 08:00AM ● By Mandy Carter
For those who are looking for a fun outdoor activity for the whole family to do together, consider one of the fastest-growing watersports in the world: standup paddleboarding. Known as SUP, it’s a great activity for children and adults alike.

Remember that there’s a “sweet spot” on the paddleboard where you start and find your balance and the center of the board. If you’re too far forward, your nose (the front of the board) will be under the water. If you’re too far behind the sweet spot, the back of your board will be under the water.

When children join you on the paddleboard, think about their weight and where they’re sitting on the board. If you’re a beginner paddleboarder, start off kneeling on the board and have the children close to you in the center of the board. If the children want to sit more toward the front, then move toward the back until the board is flat in the water.

Time to try standing on the board? Apply the same logic regarding positioning. And it’s recommended that on your first few paddleboard outings, go on a day when there is light wind in a spot that is not busy.

When using the paddle, one hand goes on top and grips the handle. The other hand is down the paddle about shoulder-width apart. Both arms are straight as you paddle. And when you have children on the board, be aware of their heads as you switch paddling sides. Also, before venturing very far, it’s important to feel stability, not stiffness, when holding the paddle and turning the board.

Children may soon want to be on a paddleboard by themselves. Although you may be hesitant, with a few tips you’ll have them paddling on another board, right beside you. The first thing to know is that most adult-size paddles are too long for children, so make sure kids have a child-size paddle. Many stores will measure and adapt paddles. Second, have children start off practicing on their knees in very calm water—even in a pool—so they can learn onboarding, balance and turning techniques.

Teaching your children standup paddleboarding is exciting for the entire family. Be sure to encourage them and let them enjoy themselves. Share in their excitement. Then sit back with pride because you now have paddleboarding companions!

Safety Tips

  • First check the forecast. Remember that storms and winds can pop up suddenly with little warning. So don’t stray too far from shore.
  • Paddle with another adult or group in case an emergency arises. That way, you will have help.
  • If children are 5 years old or older, they should use a paddleboarding leash. 
  • Show your children safe ways to fall off the paddleboard and how to get back on the paddleboard by themselves.

Where to Rent Gear

FMB Flyboard

18400 San Carlos Blvd.
Fort Myers Beach

Gulf Coast Kayaks

4120 Pine Island Road NW

Paddle Naples

1965 Estero Blvd
Bonita Springs

YOLO Board Adventures

Port Sanibel Marina
14241 Port Comfort Road
Fort Myers

Where to Buy Gear

Estero River Outfitters

20991 South Tamiami Trail

Naples Outfitters

2360 Shadowlawn Drive

Old Naples Surf Shop

1311 Third St. South

Sunrise Paddleboards

2520 North Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale

Mandy Carter is a local mom with a passion for family travel, a popular travel blogger including her own family blog at and the Digital Content & Engagement Editor for TOTI Media.