Sunday, March 6, 2011

Anatomy Of A Paddle Stroke - Efficiency

Move the hull forward without rock, roll or yaw.

Have a properly sequenced and coordinated body motion.

Paddle the water, don't paddle the boat.

Anatomy Of A Paddle Stroke - Top Hand

Can we say anything about the top hand ?

Everybody has his own solutions, everybody has a different style, no two paddler's top hand action looks alike.

On a regular forward stroke the top hand should be somewhere over the gunnel to assure that the paddle shaft is kept straight.

Keeping your paddle upright means that less yaw is being induced.

Keep the top arm  in a relaxed straight 'neutral'  position without bent in the elbow joint.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anatomy Of A Paddle Stroke - The Hips

There are two things that I have noticed regarding the hips:

I like them tilted slightly forward during recovery and at the beginning of the power phase; this is part of the overall posture that I like to keep.

I read somewhere ' nose over seat bone' as a mnemonic if you want to stand really straight. If you take your nose that far back, you almost automatically tilt your hip a bit and arch your lower back slightly.

Secondly, I like 'below the waist rotation'. 

For me this means, that in addition to the upper body rotation, I rotate my hip on the stroke side forward as well, maybe by as much as 1 or 2 inches.

My mnemonic for this is  'Fosbury Flop' - where the athlete seems to rotate the inside hip forward during beginning of the jump.

This rotation increases your reach and sets you up for a very nice leg drive.

Anatomy Of A Paddle Stroke - The Spine

The spine should be kept straight because you want to swing around it. 

I also observe, that the hips remain freely mobile to allow easy adjustments when balancing the boat while the posture is good.

The posture of the spine in paddling is quite similar to the one needed for a golf swing. Straighten out your lower back also; keep your chin up.

I find it quite difficult to avoid any slump, especially when fatigue sets in; it sure does not help. The lower back may lock in and balancing the boat, or flying the ama becomes very difficult.

Paddlers with great technique such as Harold Akeo, Tommy Connors or Walter Guild have and  keep a very good posture.

Anatomy Of A Paddle Stroke - The Posture

A correct posture is very important.

The posture changes somewhat during the stroke. 

For good paddlers with years of experience, a good posture does not seem to be a problem - they just have it.
For people that started later this is very different. You can see all kind of 'solutions' when you watch paddlers passing by during training sessions.
For whatever reason - muscular imbalances, lack of core strength, wrong technique, fatigue etc. - it is not that easy to maintain a proper posture.

Theoretically it is quite easy:

My key thought is - "a straight spine".

Imagine you want to strike a golf ball, imagine you want to run, imagine you want to throw a javelin - whatever you want to do in athletics, it will require a straight spine at one point in time. Anything but a straight spine will hinder what you are trying to do.

Thus: you sit upright, on the edge of your seat, with the hips slightly tilted forward. Your lower back maybe in slight lordosis just before you begin your stroke with the catch. 

Your head is held up, your chest is 'open', your sternum is 'leading'.

Just a good, free posture that allows you to move freely in all directions.  

You can freely breathe as you do not compress your diaphragm and you upper airways are in a natural neutral position.

Overall you are relaxed, as you are likely in the recovery phase. Tighten up and your posture will suffer.

Make yourself tall. Sit proud and confident, like someone who has mastered the paddling stroke.

Viewed from the front , you should sit dead center relative to your boat. The less you get out of this position, the less you contribute to the roll of the boat. And that is a good thing.

Some people lean over the blade during the power phase of the stroke. As long as you know what you are doing this is perfectly all right - the main caution remains, however, that you should not cause the boat to roll while doing so.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Anatomy Of A Paddle Stroke - The Eyes II

Cover your eyes with sunglasses. This has not really anything to do with paddling technique, but it is worth mentioning.

After years of exposure you may develop a pterygeum, a thin skin layer that grows in over the white of the eyeball. It can be removed with laser, but that appears to be quite painful.

Anatomy Of A Paddle Stroke - The Eyes

Many paddlers, especially when novice paddlers, tend to look down at the bow of the boat. I compare this with looking down at your front wheel while riding a bike.

This has several disadvantages:

The paddler has noo 'visual horizon' and thus his balance will be off.
He may also tend to not keep his chin up, favoring a more slumped position.

Further, he cannot scan the water ahead of the boat to find the best line during a downwind run, for example. 

Thus: head up, eyes straight ahead, visual horizon when possible, scan the water ahead of the boat.