Do you ever feel like your aren’t moving as fast as you’d like? Here are a few tips to get you moving faster without buying higher performance equipment.
The forward stroke is the most basic stroke that allows you to move forward. There are four key phases; Catch, Power, Exit and Recovery.
The catch phase is where you setup for the stroke. You want to be standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent to help absorb the motion of the board on the water. Bring the paddle blade as far forward as you can reach. Rotate your hips and shoulders toward the paddle and shift your weight onto the balls of your toes to give you that extra inch of reach. At this position you want your paddle shaft to be vertical on the rail-to-rail axis, but have a 45 degree positive angle on the nose-to-tail axis of your board. Once you have reached as far forward as you can, place your entire paddle blade down into the water, this is where you are “catching” the water.
The power phase is where your speed comes from. After your “caught” the water, twist your torso and contract your abs to push the paddle blade through the water back to your feet. You can also bend slightly at the waist to give a little extra power into the stroke. While twisting your torso and bending at the waist, transfer your weight from the ball of your feet back to your heels for a little added push. During this phase you have already used your arms to setup the stroke. Now your arms are merely holding your paddle, use the motion of twisting your torso and the strength of your abs and lats to push the paddle through the water. Keep the paddle shaft vertical on the rail-to-rail axis to keep yourself moving forward instead of turning.
The exit phase is where you remove the paddle from the water. Stop the stroke at your feet. If you continue to paddle past your feet, you are pushing water up, which is wasting energy. As you are pulling the blade out of the water, twist the blade 90 degrees and push the blade out, away from your boat, giving your paddle shaft approximately a 45 degree angle on the rail-to-rail axis. This gives your arms a chance to relax for a second instead of holding the paddle way up out of the water.
The last phase is the recovery phase. During this phase you are moving back to phase one and setting up for the next stroke. You have already twisted your paddle blade 90 degrees so it can slice forward through the air. You have also pushed your blade out away from the board, allowing you to relax your arms while you bring the paddle forward. The trick at this phase is speed. The quicker you can get your paddle ready for another stroke, the faster you will be able to go.
The most important things to remember when trying to go faster are:
- Keep your paddle shaft vertical on the nose-to-tail axis during the power phase
- Use your abs and lats instead of your arms during the power phase
- Make your recovery phase quicker, the faster you recover, the more strokes you can complete
Lastly, get out there and paddle a lot! The more you paddle, the stronger you will become and the faster you will go!