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How To Improve Your Paddle Technique

Everyone has heard how great a ‘core’ workout Stand Up Paddling is.  However, when we begin paddling, we have a tendency to just use our core for balancing, rather than power.  A common mistake early on is to rely on our arm strength to pull the paddle through the water.  But, our arms and shoulders tire easily so it’s important to learn the right technique so you can stay out longer.

Breaking the stroke down into more manageable parts allows for greater focus on each area.

The SUP paddle stroke can be broken down into three main components: Catch, Power and Release

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1. Catch

This sets up the stroke so that you don’t have to fight through the rest of the stroke to correct yourself. Ideally, you want the blade of the paddle to enter the water as cleanly as possible. As opposed to slapping the blade into the water, you want to focus on applying energy once the paddle enters the water and not before.

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2. Power

This is one of the most critical stages of the stroke and where you can generate the most power without using your arms & shoulders.  Focusing on using your hips (and therefore recruiting the muscle strength of your glutes, thighs, core and lats), will provide more power, for a longer period of time.

To gain the most power out of your stroke, you want to make sure the paddle is as deep as possible.  Ttry to avoid bending at the hips and use more downward pressure from your top hand.  Also avoid gripping the paddle too much – As a test, you should be able to lift all four fingers off the handle.

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3. Release

This part of the stroke can be likened to the release of a slingshot.  Up until this point, we have loaded the slingshot (catch), pulled it back (power) and now we are looking to release all that energy.  Just like a slingshot, it is still possible to mess it up at this stage.

The main movement here is a twist of the top hand, much like opening a bottle of wine.  At the back end of the stroke, twist your top hand in a clockwise direction so that the paddle comes back to the start of your stroke, parallel to the rails of your board.

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Paddle Technique Lessons

There are many aspects to the paddle stroke and many ways to work on each component.  The above is just a basic outline. For more information or to book a one–on–one coaching session, contact Nicki on 0430441600 or Nicki@perthsupschool.com.au

At the end of the day, it comes down to time on the water.  It takes 10,000 strokes to create a habit and only 10 to break it.

Ready to hit the water?