L1 Instructor Course

Choosing a First Time SUP Board (SG Course)

Importance: Medium. If you are working with clients on a regular basis who may then go on to purchase their own equipment then you will find the process detailed here extremely useful.  

This lesson looks at how to advise on a first time board purchase.  It will take about 10 minutes to complete.

If you are teaching adult clients to paddleboard then you are almost certainly going to come up against this question on a regular basis. Indeed, when you hear those words: “I love this sport, I want to get a board, what should I buy?”, it is a clear indicator that you have done your job well! 

As discussed in the BOARD MARKET lesson, there are myriad choices available, and it’s  bewildering for the newcomer. 

The training video discusses: 

  • What questions to ask
  • How to interpret the answers
  • Some practical examples

The test at the completion of this online course may ask you what are the general questions you should be putting to someone wanting to buy their first board. 


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand the type of questions to ask?
  • Do you understand how they can lead you towards being able to recommend a solution?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson

The SUP Paddle (SG Course)

Importance: High. As a SUP Instructor you need to understand the basics of the SUP paddle.

This lesson looks at the SUP paddle. It will take about 30 minutes to complete.

It is vital for the SUP instructor to have a basic understanding of SUP paddles, if only to ensure that the clients are using right size and style of paddle for their requirements. However, as the paddle is such a fundamental part of the SUP experience, it’s good to also understand the different constructions, options, blade shapes and how to advise a customer on purchasing a paddle. 

The training video discusses: 

  • Why the SUP instructor needs to know about paddles 
  • The parts of the paddle
  • Understanding blade shapes
  • Understanding adjustment mechanisms
  • The correct height for the paddle
  • Paddle constructions
  • How to advise a customer on what paddle to purchase.

The test at the completion of this online course may ask you about the pros and cons of the various SUP paddle constructions and the general approach to advising on the right sort of paddle for your client’s requirements. 


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand why the SUP instructor needs to know about paddles?
  • Can you name the various parts of the paddle?
  • Do you know how to advise on the correct height for the paddle?
  • Do you understand the pros and cons of the various paddle constructions?
  • Could you give a customer some general advice on what sort of paddle to purchase?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson

SUP Board Design & Dimensions (SG Course)

Importance: High. You need to have a good understanding of board design and dimensions in order to ensure that your clients are on the right boards for their requirements.

This lesson looks at SUP Board design and dimensions. Being able to interpret the measurements and appearance of a board in order to understand what it does and who it will be suited for is a vital skill for the paddleboard instructor – particularly when it comes to the question of board stability. The lesson will take around 30 minutes to complete.

The training video discusses: 

  • The anatomy of the paddleboard
  • The importance and relevance of the main parameters
  • How these factors determine the stability of the board

The knowledge in this lesson is not just for when you’re dealing with the questions of your clients, but also for when you are assigning boards to clients, and understanding how they interact with them on the water during your sessions.

The test at the completion of this online course is very likely to include questions regarding the essential parameters of board design and how they will relate to your clients’ needs.


Check Understanding!

  • Do you know the names of the various parts of the board?
  • Do you understand what the rocker profile is?
  • Do you understand what the length of the board tells you?
  • Do you understand what the volume of the board tells you?
  • Do you understand what the width of the board tells you?
  • Do you understand what the thickness of the board tells you?
  • Do you understand which dimensions are primarily responsible for determining the stability of a board?
  • Could you give advice as to what dimensions of board would be appropriate for, say, a 100kg person wanting a general purpose all rounder?
  • Do you understand how changing other aspects of the plan shape affects stability?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson

SUP Board Construction (SG Course)

Importance: Medium. Understanding the differences between the various board constructions is useful knowledge and will help give you greater understanding and perspective on the sport.

Understanding the different options is very important for any paddleboard instructor who is likely to be advising their clients on board choice, etc,  and understanding the pros and cons of each style of construction is of course pretty vital when making purchases for the school, and understanding the problems that the school equipment may encounter. The lesson will take around 30 minutes to complete.

The training video discusses: 

  • The various types of board construction
  • The pros and cons of each
  • Inflatable boards construction
  • Why there is such a wide difference in quality and prices between inflatables. 

The test at the completion of this online course will not include questions on the details of board construction. However, there may be questions on the general pros and cons of the main construction styles in common use, as you are likely to be working with these types of boards in any teaching environment. 


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand the pros and cons of epoxy/composite construction?
  • Do you understand  the pros and cons of plastic construction?
  • Do you understand  the pros and cons of inflatable board construction?
  • Do you understand why there is such a difference in price and quality with inflatable boards?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson

Tides and Currents (SG Course)

Importance: High-Critical. If you are operating at the coast, you need to understand tides. This may be something you are already intimately familiar with, but if you come from an inland waters background then some of the vital material covered here may be new you.

A comprehensive understanding of tides and currents is an absolutely fundamental requirement for the SUP instructor operating on coastal waters. Every single lesson and activity will be affected by tides and currents, both in terms of general logistics and administration,  and overall safety.  This lesson will take around 30 minutes to complete.

The training video discusses: 

  • Why tides happen
  • The tidal cycle
  • Tidal currents; when they’re weakest and strongest
  • Implications of the various states of the tide
  • How to ‘read the beach’ and assess the tide state
  • A brief summary of different types of surf conditions and their implications
  • How rip currents are formed
  • Understanding currents in general

If you operate at the coast you probably already have a pretty good understanding of tides, but there may be parts of the picture you haven’t yet learned. And even if you do know everything there is to know about tides, it’s important now to revisit that knowledge from the perspective of how it will impact on your SUP lessons and sessions. 

If you only operate in fresh water environments you may think this is not relevant to you. Admittedly, it won’t affect your day to day operations in the way it does for instructors working at the coast, but it is still important knowledge that you should possess, if only so that you can discuss the issues with your clients, some of whom may be intending to go paddling at the coast. 

If you grew up around the ocean then the material in this lesson may all seem a bit obvious and easy. However, do not ever take it for granted that everyone knows this stuff. You will regularly encounter clients who have absolutely no understanding of tides and their effects. (Maybe in the same way that you, not having grown up in the mountains, or in the desert, etc would not have an instinctive understanding of types of snow or sand.  We only know what we know!).   

So whenever you get the opportunity with your clients, take the time to discuss and explain tides and how they work. It’s incredibly important information, and you may just impart a gem of information that prevents them making a life-threatening mistake at some point in the future. 

The test at the completion of this online course is very likely to include questions regarding the tidal cycle.


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand what causes tides?
  • Do you understand the tidal cycle?
  • Do you understand how tidal flows vary throughout the tidal cycle?
  • Do you understand the implications of high tide, low tide and mid tide?
  • Could you turn up at a beach with no prior knowledge of the tide state, and be able to make a rough assessment as to what the tide is doing?
  • Do you have an understanding of the different types of surf, and the relative dangers?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, congratulations, you’ve finished the Understanding the Environment section of the L1 SUP Instructor Training programme! If you would like a zoom discussion about any of the material in this section please contact us.

The SUP Board Market (SG Course)

Importance: Medium. There is nothing in this lesson that you will be assessed on, but it is good background knowledge  and will help give you greater understanding and perspective on the sport.

This lesson looks at the SUP board market. It will take about 10 minutes to complete.

The training video discusses: 

  • Why the SUP instructor needs to be able to understand the board market
  • Why there are so many models of board
  • Why they come in so many different shapes and sizes

The SUP board market is extremely crowded, with literally hundreds of different brands and thousands of different models. Understanding the market helps the instructor to navigate their way through it, and assist and answer questions from their clients, which is very much part of the remit of being a SUP instructor.   

A detailed knowledge of the SUP board market is not a primary requirement for a SUP instructor, especially if you are only ever going to be working with children for example, and not in a position whereby you’ll be needing to discuss the relative merits of brands and purchase suggestions etc.  While there will not be questions on this material in the final test, we still strongly recommend having at least a basic understanding of the market.


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand why there are so many different brands of SUP board available?
  • Do you understand why each brand has so many different models?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson.

Weather Information (SG Course)

Importance: High. If you do not come from a watersports and windsports background then there is a lot of very important and relevant safety information in this section of the course, that you really need to know as a SUP instructor.

This lesson looks at the vital skills of finding and interpreting weather forecast information for your lessons and activities. The lesson will take around 20 minutes to complete.

The training video discusses: 

  • Where do we find weather information?
  • Why does it vary?
  • How to use it
  • Interpreting forecasts

Knowing in advance what the weather is going to do during your lesson or activity is vital in ensuring the well being and safety of your clients, and indeed even prior to that, in ensuring you are at the best location for the forecast weather conditions.

The video looks in detail at what information you actually need to glean from the forecasts, and gives some practical examples of how to interpret it.

You may already consider yourself competent in weather understanding. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend working through this video to ensure that there are no gaps in your knowledge.

The information, knowledge and skills discussed in this lesson are an absolutely fundamental, essential aspect of the skillset required by the paddleboard instructor. They are relevant for every single lesson or activity. Any time you’re on the water with clients, your weather knowledge is called upon prior to and during the session.

The test at the completion of this online course may include questions on interpreting forecasts.


Check Understanding!

Do you have some good weather forecast apps (and ideally some real time data info too) on your smartphone set up for the locations you’ll be operating from, and do you know how to interpret them?

Do you understand why forecasts vary?

Can you look at a forecast and ascertain what the weather will be at your chosen location for the duration of your session and beyond:

  • wind direction relative to the shore at your location
  • wind strength
  • temperature changes
  • rain and any other considerations

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson.

Water Temperature & Quality (SG Course)

Importance: High. If you intend to operate in areas where the water temperature drops below 15 degrees celsius or there is any risk of contamination then you must know the information contained in this lesson.

Understanding the risks of cold water is an important aspect of general safety knowledge and understanding for the SUP instructor. Likewise the risks of problems from water pollution. This lesson will take around 15 minutes to complete.

The training video discusses: 

  • The physiological effects of cold water immersion
  • How long the effects take, in various temperatures of water
  • What to do if you are in cold water
  • Water pollution and quality issues
  • How to check water quality

Even if you only operate in warm water environments, a good understanding of the physiological effects of cold water is well worth having. And water pollution is something that can occur anywhere!

The test at the completion of this online course may include questions on cold water survival and water quality issues.


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand why hypothermia is not the most important thing you should be worrying about if subject to cold water immersion?
  • Do you understand why it is so important to carry out any actions requiring manual dexterity immediately following cold water immersion?
  • Do you have a good idea as to survival times for water temperatures typical to your operating areas?
  • Do you know what to do if you find yourself stuck in cold water?
  • Do you understand when water quality issues may occur?
  • Do you know where to find water quality information?
  • Do you know what to do with your equipment to prevent the spread of didymo?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson.

Working with Children (SG Course)

Importance: Depends… If you intend to work with children then the information in this lesson is pretty vital. Not so much if you only ever intend to work with adults.  However, you should still have a basic understanding of the general requirements.

This lesson is about working with young people, which is extremely rewarding and usually great fun, but can most certainly present a whole different array of interesting challenges and issues!    The lesson will take about 25 minutes to complete.

The training video discusses: 

  • The legal & ethical considerations for working with young people
  • Recommended minimum ages
  • General advice on working with youngsters
  • Some of the problems and issues that may arise
  • A quick look at some of the paddleboard-related activities you can consider when working with young people.

This barely scratches the surface of the topic – working with young people can be a whole course in itself. For some SUP instructors it’s their ‘bread and butter’,  others prefer the somewhat quieter and less hectic life of working with adults!

The test at the completion of this online course may include questions on minimum age recommendations and equipment choices for teaching young people.


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand the recommendations for minimum ages when teaching young people?
  • Do you understand how you should adapt your instruction to create the right tone and environment for working with young people?
  • Are you comfortable with equipment for instructing young people?
  • Do you have some ideas about what sort of on-water activities you might do with young people?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again.

Otherwise, well done – you’ve completed the Safety and Planning section of the SG SUP Instructor Level 1 course! If you have any questions or issues about any of the material in this section please don’t hesitate to contact us.

REMINDER: Print out and practice your safety briefings, as detailed in Lesson 4, and your GAGA responses to the emergencies detailed in Lesson 6.

Understanding the Weather (SG Course)

Importance: High. If you do not come from a watersports and windsports background then there is a lot of very important and relevant safety information in this section of the course, that you really need to know as a SUP instructor.

This lesson looks at the vital skills of understanding specific aspects of weather, and the impact they will have on your lessons and activities. The lesson will take around 35 minutes to complete.

The training video discusses: 

  • Understanding wind strength
  • Understanding wind direction
  • Understanding the implications of the wind direction in relation to the shore
  • Rain
  • Other weather considerations

The weather is a very real part of our lives here in New Zealand – constantly changing, and often in unpredictable ways. It is by far the most likely source of problems you may encounter during your paddleboard lessons and activities, so it is absolutely vital that you digest and fully understand the material covered in this lesson.

Even if you are already an experienced water-person and think you have a good understanding of the weather, give this lesson your close attention. While it’s not vital to understand all the theory, it is vital to understand the practical implications.

Wind strength and direction is of fundamental importance to the SUP instructor, not only for the obvious primary safety reasons, but also in determining the success of the lesson and the enjoyment of your clients.

If you already participate in other wind sports then you will be very familiar with most of the material covered here. If it’s new to you, then take the time to really get to know it. Every time you see a body of water, ask yourself – what is the wind strength, and the direction in relation to the shore. Learn to recognise the clear difference in appearance between onshore and offshore winds. This stuff needs to become instinctive – it may well at some point make the difference between a good decision and a full-blown emergency.

The test at the completion of this online course may include questions on wind strengths and directions, and the other significant weather phenomena covered in this lesson.


Check Understanding!

  • Do you understand the various wind strengths and the key visual cues in determining them?
  • Do you understand the various wind strengths in terms of km/hr, m/s and knots, and how to convert between them?
  • Do you understand the terms used to describe wind direction relative to the shore?
  • Do you understand what it means if a wind is described as Northerly, or Westerly, etc?
  • Do you understand the implications of an onshore wind?
  • Do you understand the implications of an offshore wind?
  • Do you understand the various implications of rain, in terms of the potential problems and risks it may pose to a paddleboard session?

If you’re unsure on any of these, go back and review the lesson again. Otherwise, you can move on to the next lesson.