Glossary of SUP Terms

Like any sport, Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) has its own terminology about the equipment, styles, moves, and culture. For whitewater river SUP, all the whitewater terms apply. For surf SUP, all the common surf terms apply as well.

All Arounders – A basic SUP board that works OK in most conditions of flat water, choppy water, and surf. Beginners like them because they are usually longer, thicker, and wider boards. This makes it easier to balance while first learning, but they are not good for maneuvering and making turns in surf.

Blown Out – Lousy surf conditions when the wind blows the waves apart.

Bottom – The underside of the paddle board, which is usually flat unless it is a special race board with a long center fin running down the bottom.

Cruising – Going for a long ride on relativity flat water.

Dawn Patrol – Being out in the water before the sun comes up.

Deck – The top portion of the board. The deck may have a special indented place for a person to stand, with places for the feet, and have a rougher surface in that area for extra traction.

Down Winder – Cruising with the wind pressing on the back, which makes it easier.

Fins – Fins are shaped attachments connected to the underside of the board that help with guidance and balance.

Glide – Moving easily through flat water.

Goofy Foot – Putting the right foot forward and the left foot toward the rear of the board.

Handle – This is also called the “soap dish.” A handle is attached the center of the top of the board to make it easy to carry.

Hybrids – These are hollow SUP boards made for rivers, constructed out of high impact plastic. They often have a waterproof storage area inside the board to take along supplies for a longer journey down river.

Inflatables – These boards are filled with air for use and then after use, the air is removed to make them easy to pack and store.

Leash – This is also call a tether. This cord attaches to the ankle and the board, so the board stays connected to the paddle boarder.

Nose – The front of the board.

Paddle Fitness – This is a form of exercise using paddle boarding.

PFD – This is Coast Guard speak as in “professional flotation device.” Otherwise known as a life jacket.

Quads – Boards with four fins.

Race Face – The particularly exhausted look of a paddle boarder after finishing a race.

Racing Boards – These boards are longer and sleeker, sometimes with one fin down the center and a pointed nose. They are designed to lift up out of the water for more speed.

Rails – The smooth rounded edges of the board.

Regular Foot – Putting the left foot forward and the right foot toward the rear of the board.

Rocker – This is a part of the board that curves upward from the water, which could be either in the front (nose), in the back (tail), or for both, as in a “banana” board.

Session – The time spent on the water, sometimes shortened to simply “sesh.”

Soft-Tops – The top of these boards have a soft material such as rubber or plastic foam. Beginners like them because the soft top helps gain balance.

Tail – The back of the board.

Tether – Same as a “leash.” A coiled cord that connects the board to the person’s ankle, which may have a quick-release feature.

Yoga SUP – A special form of yoga performed using a paddleboard.