Struggling with the "in the air" part of the paddle stroke

2 years 3 months ago #31882 by d0uglass
I think the least-intuitive thing for me as I'm struggling to learn the proper race kayaking stroke is knowing when and how to withdraw the paddle blade from the water and set up for the next stroke. It's like, just as I'm getting into the meaty part of the pull and really feeling the resistance is when I have to stop everything and snatch the blade out. And then I'm confused about how to orient everything in the air for the next stroke.

Yesterday my experienced buddy told me I really need to get my arms up higher and spear the blade in more vertically. He said bringing my back hand up by my ear when removing the blade from the water would help with that. He recommended that I watch videos of Knut Hollman on youtube, which I did.

I'm ready to try the move, but I'm not sure what to "feel" for or what biomechanical advantage this non-intuitive move promises to confer.

Stellar SEI 1g

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2 years 3 months ago #31883 by kwolfe
First of all, Knut is an absolute animal and great example of technical perfection. I have watched his video at least 20 times. However, I think we should focus of great surfski paddlers sometimes as it better represents to the amount of leg drive we can achieve and pace at which we might paddle. Zsolt is a greater paddler to watch. He's a former K1 guy gone to surfski.

As for your hands, try posting a video so we can get a look. Typically, you should be able to see the bow of the ski under your top hand as it sweeps across. When you are done with the pull, the top hand is still up and the paddle is pulled out using it as a hinge which sets you up immediately for the next catch.

Does that make sense, because it sounded good in my head!

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2 years 3 months ago #31884 by d0uglass
Hand that's at the top at the end of the stroke being the "hinge" while the other hand pulls the blade out and up does make sense. Thanks! That gives me something to attempt to do with both of my hands now. I'll get some selfie GoPro video for critique.

Stellar SEI 1g

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2 years 3 months ago #31885 by d0uglass
Ok, here's a clip from today where I'm trying to do it.


Stellar SEI 1g

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2 years 3 months ago #31886 by PSwitzer
Short version comment: The better the catch, the more time you have for a smooth exit. Crappy catch= power comes in late and the exit is also late, and abrupt.

Long version comment:

If you adjust the stroke by raising arms higher you're going to need to lengthen the paddle, otherwise your catch will be shortened and during power phase you will lose proper blade angle relative to the water earlier. Meaning, as you pull past the paddle, the angle of the blade goes past vertical and the forward vector is lessened, you wind up pulling the boat down instead of forward.

The reason (i think) the exit is not intuitive is because while it FEELS like you're pulling hard near the end of the stroke, you're actually not doing much forward work, because of the issues with maintaining a positive blade angle discussed above. Therefore self-feedback based on feel is not helpful. Less skilled paddlers have a harder time establishing good grip/ anchor on the water up front, so you tend to wait till later in the stroke to apply the force where it is not as effective moving the boat.

This is why coaches emphasize working to feel that heavy load connecting your paddle to your feet promptly on the catch, with the blade in front of the feet. If you get a good amount of work done right up front, you have the rest of the power phase to transition to exit and it won't feel as abrupt. But the key is feeling like you're pulling a load of bricks immediately on the catch. Feels crappy at first but that's how you know you're doing it right. Zsolt calls this the "Zsolt Jolt" and Ivan Lawler says you need to "love the load". His masterclass video is worth a look if you haven't checked it out yet:



I believe Oscar explains the effective blade angle pretty well in his mauritius clinic :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?
time_continue=4&v=OLT0l2qf3AQ


Agree with your buddy's tip about the top hand near the ear, I found this helped me get a better positive blade angle on the catch.
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2 years 3 months ago #31887 by Kiwi Dave
From looking at the video here are a couple of points to consider (read: don't take my advice as gospel):
1- At the exit there is quite a distinct pull at the elbow, and its quite far back. Try and convert this into the blade exiting earlier while maintaining a straighter arm.
2- Your arms are quite bent at the catch also. Aim to have a reasonably straight arm at the catch and try to get the 'leading shoulder' projected forward via the rotation through your trunk.

You could try some drills where you form a box with your paddle, arms and body then paddle without bending your arms at all. Ideally you just rotate at the trunk also maintaining the paddle shaft parallel with your chest. Thats quite hard though I find ;)
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2 years 3 months ago - 2 years 3 months ago #31888 by kwolfe
My two cents. You are punching your top hand forward then then down so when your stroke is finished both hands are darn near you waist level. You catch is good and quite but you top hand needs to stay around eye level the entire time. This will force you to shorten you stroke a little and force you to take you blade out sooner.

Picture being a boxer and given a right and left cross hook. Try not to drop that top hand or you would nipple punch and angry man :)
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2 years 3 months ago #31889 by d0uglass
These are super helpful, tips, thanks!

In the video I was having lots of trouble reconciling earlier skills I'd been working on: "maintain the box/frame while rotating torso," and "sweep the blade out to the side," with this new "bring the exiting hand up by the ear" thing. To do the ear thing I was bending my back arm early and close to the boat, breaking up the box and the side sweep.

Watching Knut from a front view again I see he keeps his back arm straight until he's near the end of his rotation with the blade fully out to the side, then when he does bend his arm it's to pull the blade UP to ear height, not actually IN towards the side of his head, and he never bends it more than 90 degrees.

When I do this again I will try to remember:

1. Longer paddle
2. Straighter arms at both catch and exit.
3. Maintain the "box"
4. Top hand punching sideways at a face, not down at a keyboard.

Stellar SEI 1g

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2 years 3 months ago #31890 by Jordan
Everyone else is spot on with what you need to improve on. I’d like to add another little point, hopefully you’re not getting information overload.

Although the hand next to the ear is a great aid in helping you understand where the recovery hand should end up. It seems to me that you are a bit cramped up and this is forcing you to shoot that top hand through and down.

I think your hand is a little to close to your head. My coach always banged on about the rule of 90. In essence, that recovery hand in the set up position should be away from your head enough, that the elbow is a 90 degree angle and still at eye level.

There should also be a 90 degree angle at your armpit.

This should allow you to have the correct blande angle on the catch and allow for proper rotation. Your hand should then finish in line with the centre of the boat and at eye level.

Does that make sense?

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2 years 3 months ago #31891 by MCImes
Not to beat a dead horse, but this video is what I always look at and my be helpful. As others said, one thing I see is that your paddle stays almost in line (parallel) to the boat. Compare your stroke to the forward view of Lord Knut beginning around 1:00


The top hand stays up high by going sideways instead of down, and likewise the bottom blade should move away from the boat as the stroke progresses.

Currently - Swordfish S in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10 g0, Stellar SR g1, Fenn XT g1
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

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2 years 3 months ago #31892 by tve
Great advice here, but honestly, take a workshop & class. You're at a point where you are comfortable in your boat and now you're either going to learn a good stroke or a mediocre one. If the former you're on a great track, if the latter you get to spend 2x the time unlearning and relearning in a year or two...

From my personal experience, since you're on the east coast, I would highly recommend www.yourpaddlelife.com/#worldmap , specifically taking the workshop plus a 1-1 class. I did do that a month ago on the west coast and found Sean really good (I asked him to brutally correct everything I do wrong and he did :-). Best money spent. I'm sure there are other good teachers, I just don't know of them, others may be able to chime in. (I don't have any affiliation with Sean).

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