Paddling Technique

Paddling technique, boat packing technique, anything having to do with how to use a piece of equipment (except sailing, which has its own section).

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robeach
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Paddling Technique

Post by robeach »

I'm interested in improving my kayak paddling technique with the goal of paddling more efficiently. I went to a great symposium in Maine a long time ago, but of all the many topics offered this wasn't one of them. There's an inspiring video of Greg Barton, who won two Olympic gold medals in kayaking. What impressed me was how much power he produced with minimal strain by starting his paddling strokes with rotation of his back. Perhaps I need to simply focus on this rotation instead of excessive pulling through strokes with my arms. There must be private instructors in the Boston area also.

Any suggestions?

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gbellware
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Re: Paddling Technique

Post by gbellware »

Robeach,

There are plenty of videos that will show you how to paddle with good rotation. IMO, it is just a matter of focus, practice, and discipline that anyone who is motivated can self teach. The problem is that it is so easy to lapse into a lazy, arm driven stroke. I don't think there is magic in a good stroke, it is more a matter of getting your brain to accept the fact that enlisting your torso (and thighs if you are braced in the cockpit) in the stroke. Just my $.02.

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Re: Paddling Technique

Post by siravingmon »

Simon

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yellowboat
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Re: Paddling Technique

Post by yellowboat »

Habitually using torso rotation as the primary power source is the cornerstone of being able to paddle efficiently all day. It's very easy to learn; one must just develop it as an almost unconscious habit. After a fairly short time, torso rotation will become automatic. When you combine torso rotation with keeping a very light grip on the paddle--just enough grip that it doesn't fall out of your hands, you are mostly there. The final piece is to vary one's paddling slowly from high angle through low angle to what some call "Eskimo paddling" and back again, working the different muscle groups involved.

I first read about ultra-low-angle Eskimo paddling decades ago in an article in maybe Atlantic Coastal Kayaker, and I don't recall the author, but I immediately put it to use. It involves keeping the forearms so low that they brush the cockpit coaming as one strokes, using maximal torso rotation. One can imagine that one's elbows are firmly bound to one's waist as one strokes, and the stroke is very quick and very short, so the paddle is in the water when mostly at 90 degrees to the long axis of the kayak. It is very efficient and once one gets used to it, it can become a major component of one'saddling technique.

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Re: Paddling Technique

Post by siravingmon »

One thing I haven't seen mentioned for Greenland paddling is the significance of stretching out that last little bit through your fingertips when reaching forward to place the blade in the water. I have tendon problems due to poor paddling technique and paddles that were too big for me in my first two years of paddling, and I find this stretching technique makes an enormous difference to how long I can comfortably paddle for. My physiotherapist also recently recommended I try a much wider loom and that I paddle with my elbows high, the opposite of what I was used to, and this also helped my shoulder issues
Simon

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Re: Paddling Technique

Post by yellowboat »

Simon, I am wondering if we are talking about two different techniques here. The technique I read about back in that article stressed the shortness of the arc the paddle passed through and the quickness (and rapid tempo) of the strokes. There was no discussion of maximizing the reach forward when planting the blade in the water; what distinguished the author's version he called "Eskimo" paddling was that very absence of a "big" stroke. I wish I had kept that article until today, but I threw it out during a house move!

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Re: Paddling Technique

Post by siravingmon »

Same short high frequency stroke, not that dissimilar from wing paddle technique but lower angle. I just find that reaching forward for the stroke helps stretch my shoulder and so helps it cope better with the stresses it endures
Last edited by siravingmon on Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
Simon

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MartyG

Re: Paddling Technique

Post by MartyG »

siravingmon wrote:Same short high frequency stroke, not that dissimilar from wing paddle technique but lower ange. I just find that reaching forward for the stroke helps stretch my shoulder and so helps it cope better with the stresses it endures
I tried doing this and it does appear to help with the shoulder stress. However it didn't agree much with the rest of my joints. Still trying to find the perfect technique for myself.

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Re: Paddling Technique

Post by yellowboat »

I searched through the junk-filled room of my memory, and also checked the list of contents of back issues of Atlantic Coastal Kayaker. I am thus reasonably certain that the article on Greenland paddling technique that I referenced was by Greenland-style guru Doug Van Doren. It seems to have appeared in the March 1993 issue, but alas it is out of print and unavailable from ACK. Van Doren's analysis of Greenland forward-stroke technique is only one of several sometimes disputed variants, but he asserts that he absorbed it directly from old filmed depictions of Inuit paddling their kayaks. Though I use a Euro paddle, I find Van Doren's technique perfectly suitable with it

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