Jimmy Blakney gives advice on how to safely fall off your board to avoid injury and of course how to get back on board.
One question I get a lot from new standup paddleboarders is: What happens if I fall off? The truth of the matter is if you have properly sized equipment and you have good technique, your chances of falling are very unlikely, unless you're pushing your limits in rough conditions. However, if you do fall off, it's very easy to get back on.
First off, if you do find yourself falling off your board, it's important that you fall away from your board and avoid landing on your paddle. Also, it's important that you don't dive headfirst off your board, because you just never know what's down there.
Once you're in the water, you'll want to definitely stay with your board and not your paddle, if you have to choose one piece of gear. Using your board, you can always go retrieve your paddle, but you can't do it the other way around. Better yet, wear a leash. If you have a leash on, you know you're going to with your board, and you can go get your paddle.
If you're climbing back up from the side of your board, use your carry handle to help pull your chest onto the board. If you're climbing back up from the tail, push down on the tail and slide your chest onto the board. Be aware that if you're wearing a full life jacket, or even an inflatable belt that's in the front, it can hung up when you're trying to climb back onto your board.
Once you're back on your board, you can then use your hands to paddle back to pick up your paddle. If you're in the surf zone or other rough water, you may want to stay laying down until you can paddle back to calmer water. When doing this, tuck your paddle under your chest so that it's out of the way. Then, hand paddle your board like a surfboard.
When you're ready to get up, place your paddle across the board in front of you and then pull yourself up onto your knees. To stand up on your board, keep your paddle across the board in front of you, with your fingers over the shaft. Now, look toward the horizon, tuck your toes, and one at a time, bring your knees up to your chest and place your feet flat on the board. You'll then just press up like doing a squat with your back straight.
Once you're standing up, make sure you engage your paddle quickly, because an active paddle is going to help you stay balanced and more stable on the water.