a skateboard

Top 10 Hand Boarding Tricks Every Enthusiast Should Know

Once you’ve mastered the basics of stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), learning some tricks can add a whole new dimension to your time on the water. Tricks allow you to push your skills while having fun showing off your paddle board control.

From turns and spins to jumps and falls, tricks range from beginner to advanced. This guide will go over the top 10 hand-boarding tricks that every paddle-boarding enthusiast should know.

hand boards and their accessories

1. Pivot Turn

The pivot turn is the most fundamental turning trick to learn on a SUP. Here’s how it’s done:

The Technique

  • Approach the turn at a moderate paddling speed, about 3/4 of your maximum speed.
  • Rotate your torso 90 degrees and swing the paddle blade vertically into the water to act as a brake.
  • Allow the board’s momentum to carry the back end of the board around in a wide arc.
  • Once aimed in the new direction, switch paddle sides to continue forward.


  • Keep your knees bent and body weight centered over the board to stay balanced.
  • Begin with wide, gentle pivot turns then gradually work up to tighter turns.
  • Time the paddle drag and pivot just right to avoid losing too much speed.

2. Cross Bow Stop

A sharp, skidding stop known as the crossbow is another excellent beginner trick.

The Technique

  • Build speed by paddling hard straight toward your desired stopping point.
  • When ready to stop, firmly swing your paddle perpendicularly hard to one side, keeping it extended fully.
  • Lean back slightly, using your hips to press the tail down as you deeply drag the paddle into the water.
  • Once fully stopped, the square paddle backs up vertically to regain balance.


  • Brace your core muscles and grip the board with your feet to stay balanced during the abrupt stop.
  • Practice the crossbow stop first in open water before trying it near shore.
  • The harder and quicker you drag the vertical paddle, the faster you will stop.

3. Side Surfing

Catching small waves sideways to coast along with them is an awesome way to start wave riding.

The Technique

  • Approach an oncoming swell side-on as it begins to break.
  • Time it right and push the nose forward to intercept the wave as it passes.
  • Once caught, draw long smooth strokes to match the wave’s speed, gliding parallel along the face.
  • Lean your body downhill as the wave curls, crumbles and dissipates.


  • Paddle aggressively at wave intercepts to catch it early and avoid pearl diving the nose.
  • Keep your knees soft to absorb chop, bumps and roughness while cruising.
  • Start by surfing smaller swells and work your way up as your skills improve.

4. Backward Paddling

Paddling backward effectively takes coordination and awareness but builds important skills.

The Technique

  • Begin from a solid standing position, paddling forward.
  • Rotate your torso 180 degrees to the face behind you.
  • Reach the paddle blade back and pull it through the water for reverse propulsion.
  • Twist back forward and quickly switch sides, finding a smooth alternating paddling rhythm.
  • Check frequently behind you to steer clear of hazards.


  • Start slowly to avoid losing balance or capsizing while backward.
  • Keep the paddle shaft vertical throughout the backward stroke for efficiency.
  • Let the rotation come from your hips and core rather than your shoulders.

5. Spin Out

The spin-out trick rotates you and the board 180 or even 360 degrees quickly.

The Technique

  • Build up moderate paddling momentum moving forward.
  • Move back to about the 1/3 position of the board, bending your knees.
  • Firmly plant the paddle blade into the water like a rudder on one side.
  • Aggressively rotate your hips, core and shoulders in sync, allowing centrifugal force to swing the board around.
  • Once pointed in the new direction, straighten the paddle to complete.


  • Squat low bending your knees deeply to keep the centered weight low.
  • Begin by learning 180-degree spins then working up to faster 360-degree spin-outs.
  • Time the planted paddle rudder simultaneously with your hip and core rotation.

6. Heel Hang Five

Casually walking towards the nose and dangling your heels off the edge brings style to any cruise.

The Technique

  • Start from a solid standing position near the middle of the board to begin.
  • Take careful, gradual steps forward, sliding one foot slowly in front of the other.
  • Once you reach the nose, relax your posture, allowing both heels to hang freely off the edge.
  • Hold the pose for a few seconds before carefully walking your feet back to the center.


  • Move gracefully and slowly at first until you get a feel for the board’s balance.
  • Keep your core tight and your gaze focused forward throughout the move.
  • Get very comfortable on land before trying to hang heels on the water.

7. Drop Knee Cutback

Cutting back while dropping to your knees provides stability for executing very sharp turns.

The Technique

  • Begin upright then fluidly drop down to both knees near the tail of the board.
  • Rotate your shoulders and sweep the paddle deep into the water on one side.
  • Allow the board’s tail to break traction and slide out behind you.
  • Pull the paddle blade flat through the water to regain control coming out of the cutback.


  • Maintain centered weight distribution between your two knees as you carve.
  • Initiate the sharp bottom turns using your core rotation.
  • Expect the tail to slide out further on longer boards due to higher glide speed.

8. Duck Dive

Ducking under and diving below oncoming waves is a useful skill for handling larger surf.

The Technique

  • Approach a wave head-on as it begins to build and break.
  • Just before it crests, grip both board rails tightly and squat your body low.
  • Time it right, so you can kick the tail down forcefully while pressing the nose underwater as you submerge.
  • Hold your breath and maintain the tucked position as the wave rolls overhead.


  • Aim to pierce the wave with the nose just before it crests for best results.
  • Keep a firm grip on the board’s rails throughout the duck dive.
  • Develop depth perception to avoid diving too deep and hitting the bottom.

9. Pop Up Stand

Popping up from lying belly down to standing tests overall balance and board stability.

The Technique

  • Lie face down near the center of the board, hands grasping the rails.
  • In one smooth, explosive motion engage your core and spring your legs beneath your hips.
  • Land in a low, athletic crouch, feet hip-width apart for stability.
  • Steadily straighten your legs to stand fully upright and tall on the board.


  • Explode quickly before the board’s motion throws you off balance.
  • Position hands closer towards the nose if needed for extra leverage.
  • Allow arms to bend slightly upon landing to absorb impact.

10. Paddle Jump

Generating air on a SUP takes athletic power in the legs and core. Here’s one way to try it:

The Technique

  • Aggressively paddle into a small oncoming swell, timing it to break just ahead of you.
  • As the nose lifts up the wave’s slope, pops up fast from kneeling to standing.
  • Ride the wave’s upward energy to help launch you and the board briefly airborne.
  • Absorb the landing by bending your knees deeply to cushion impact.


  • Carefully choose only small, mellow bumps and moguls to use for lift.
  • Lead upward progressing with your chest during takeoff.
  • Land with knees bent and body-centered to distribute impact evenly across the board.

many skateboards

Trick Safety

Before attempting any new paddle-boarding tricks, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Only try tricks in ideal conditions for your skill level – calm waters, light wind, small surf.
  • Wear a life vest in case you fall until new moves become consistent.
  • Check overhead and underwater clearance before tricks like duck dives or jumps.
  • Know your limits and don’t push too far beyond your comfort zone.
  • Consider lessons to receive personalized trick pointers from pros.
  • Master fundamentals like balance, paddling, and turns first.
  • Have a spotter watch from shore or SUP as an extra precaution.

Gear for Tricks

Certain paddle-boarding gear lends itself better to tricks. Consider these choices:

  • Inflatable boards are most forgiving for beginner tricks due to high buoyancy if you fall.
  • Smaller boards under 10′ improve nimbleness for spin moves and wave riding.
  • Durable boards with solid construction withstand impact upon landing air tricks smoothly.
  • Twin tip boards enable tricks in either direction.
  • Deck pads provide the needed grip for hooked tricks like rail stands.
  • quick lock fins allow swapping different shapes for varying performance.
  • Ankle leashes bring peace of mind when trying new inverts and flip moves.

Ideal Conditions for Tricks

Seek out these ideal environmental conditions when trick handboarding:

  • Flat water – best for practicing fundamental balance tricks like posing or heel hangs.
  • Small surf – waist-high waves provide a fun playground for rolls, spins, and carves.
  • Onshore winds – light wind from shore makes for smooth water with fewer chops.
  • Slack tide – minimal current helps keep position steady for tricks requiring balance.
  • Warm weather – makes repeatedly falling from failed attempts more pleasant.
  • Good visibility – allows you to see underwater obstacles before attempting duck dives or jumps.
  • Mild crowding – fewer people around gives you the needed space to try tricks freely.

Mastering the Basics First

Don’t rush into tricks before nailing these essential foundations:

  • Standing balance – rock solid standing stability is crucial.
  • Forward paddling – know how to efficiently paddle and steer straight.
  • Stopping – be able to stop on command to avoid hazards.
  • Bottom turns – carved turns build skills for more dynamic tricks.
  • Popping up – reliably and quickly get up to your feet.
  • Reading conditions – understand wind, waves, and currents.
  • Board control – complete command of your SUP’s movements.
  • Self-rescue – the ability to remount if you do get knocked off.
  • Fitness level – strength for power moves and endurance for repeats.

a black hand board and a cool one


Expanding your stand-up paddle boarding repertoire with tricks brings a new level of excitement and satisfaction. Start with fundamental moves then work your way up to more technical maneuvers.

Prioritize safety by knowing personal limits and conditions. Mastering the top 10 tricks outlined here will have you expressing your SUP style with creativity and control in no time.



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