When a sport is promoted as ‘easy’ there is a risk of also promoting it as a sport without skill or indeed of any place to go in terms of expectations. The original promotional efforts of the industry promoting SUP as a ‘surf sport’ first and foremost over that of a ‘paddle sport’ has played out, so that in the long run, it’s clear it’s a paddle sport first and whatever you want it to be after you’ve learned the basics. Paddle sports are an ancient lineage and at an Olympic level have become both an art and science, so as to become a holistic blending of biomechanics and physiology as man / women being the machine that powers the inanimate object.
A SUP board cannot power itself and while it’s true that the kinetic energy stored within a wave can provide movement, the fact remains, the paddle and paddler are the absolute necessary ingredient to bring all the elements into play from the point of view of control through steering and propulsion. If you are a total beginner who has never swung a paddle of any type, professional instruction can certainly help, but often such lessons are more a lesson in risk management and personal safety and the safety of others in respect of a water sport – and that’s a good thing. Learning how to paddle will take place over many weeks following the lesson.
If you’re on the way to teaching yourself, you will tend to reach a point where you are neither going forward or back in terms of skill sets. The greatest issue, will be in practicing bad technique and working incorrect muscle groups, setting up the potential for injury and many inefficiencies. A professional will have make you ‘unlearn’ and this is difficult, because the longer you have paddled ‘badly’ the more hard-wired your brain will be to you body, through a process called kinesthetics. If you are an experienced water user, there’s nothing wrong with learning through self-discovery, but this is not a guarantee you have good technique. Having a professional observe and provide feedback even just the once, can be a worthwhile investment. Video analysis is a very valuable tool to bring into the process.
In short, always consider some time with a specialist and in addition if you are becoming bored with you sport and need some inspiration, sometimes time spent with a professional mentor or instructor, trainer, can renew your love of the sport to seek higher grounds and new experiences.