I finally get it!

10 months 2 weeks ago #35024 by manta
I finally get it! was created by manta
I've been paddling for two years and in that time not made the greatest of progress.
Stuck at a speed of around 9.8km/h.

We all know the theory of paddling. Get a good catch, pull hard and recover to do it again on the other side. I thought I was doing this.
A couple of days ago I was doing an interval session and it all clicked. First I realised I was pulling for too long in the stroke and also realised the rotation is to get the paddle out of the water with ease. 

Basically the blade goes in, a second pull and then recover. It felt so distinct to me that the pressure on the blade right at the front of the stroke is what makes or breaks the stroke. Then the rotation is what gets the paddle out ready for the next stroke.

I had understood all this intellectually but this was the first time I actually felt it. My speed immediately jumped at least 0.5km/h. My obliques and core musculature really took a beating because I think for the first time I was actually loading the blade at the right moment in the catch.

I have been practicing what I felt and it feels like I will need to spend some time retraining my body to operate on the right cues. It just felt so good to finally make some progress after so much time not seeing any real results. 

Just thought I would share in case it helps someone else.

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10 months 2 weeks ago #35026 by TomVW
Replied by TomVW on topic I finally get it!

I have a similar experience: I can maintain about 10km/h for an hour at a time, but struggled to get past that speed.

In the last weeks, I focused on:
- silent catch (hinted at in these forums, some time ago)
- timing of leg drive w.r.t. catch
- early exit (vestigial habit from seakayaking...)
- symmetric stroke (my left arm is not as decisive as the right)

When focusing on these aspect, I noticed that, even though working at lower intensity, I almost did not lose any speed.
Bringing my intensity to more normal levels, I gain about 0.4 km/h . :-)

Next steps is to keep the correct technique for longer without falling back into the old bad habits...

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10 months 2 weeks ago - 10 months 2 weeks ago #35029 by zachhandler
Replied by zachhandler on topic I finally get it!
So true Manta. intellectual understanding of any aspect of the stroke counts for very little until you actually feel the bodily sensation of doing it correctly. I too had a moment when my paddle did something different in the water and I was instantly going almost a km per hour faster. It was maybe 6 or 7 years ago but I remember the moment distinctly. I have maintained that speed improvement ever since, but i do forget it every winter and have to struggle for a few weeks in the spring to remember it. So I agree - work hard now to get that feeling burned into your muscle memory before you forget it!

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10 months 2 weeks ago - 10 months 2 weeks ago #35030 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic I finally get it!
Thats the buzz of light surf skis, probably k1 too, the result of those techniques coming to together gives an almost instantaneous noticeable improvement.

As Oscar is always preaching Technique beats all the fitness and power in the world. Which is why so many older paddlers can still match it, by technique alone.

The late paddle exit often born of touring kayaks and flat blades is a common error when turning to skis ad wing blades.  its often my downfall once I get tired/loose focus/sloppy

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10 months 1 week ago - 10 months 1 week ago #35039 by Wingnut
Replied by Wingnut on topic I finally get it!
According to my GPS - I don't quite get it yet but I'm making steady progress.  I've had my V8 Pro for just over a year, living in a Northern climate, with an actual paddling time of about eight months.  I attribute much of my technique progression to this site, thanks Rob.  I'm still only hovering around the 10kph range but with lower intensity.  I'm feeling more effort in my abs and lats.  My most recent aha moment was when I began practicing one of Oscar's drills on the catch.  I found that keeping my lower hand straight from catch to pull and my top arm bent I could put a lot more power and downward force on the blade when I initiate my rotation.  Where I feel like I fall apart is I find it hard to keep the hyper-rotation going for very long.  When that happens I don't snap the blade out of the water early enough causing a too long paddle stroke and I'm not using the kinetic energy that the extra rotation would provide.  I also find it extremely hard to isolate my power to mainly my abs, back and leg drive.  I keep finding myself using my arms to push and pull which no longer feels right to me but is my default technique.  There are so many nuances to the paddle stroke I can see where it is much easier for someone with better body awareness to learn this technique.  More body awareness during my paddle stroke is where I am more focused now - I'm finding it helpful, in addition I occasionally review my GoPro camera footage which I find helpful.


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10 months 1 week ago #35043 by manta
Replied by manta on topic I finally get it!
Thanks for all the replies.

My next step is to film myself with my GoPro as I have some older technique footage and see if I can notice a difference.
Mostly I have not really seen a difference more felt a difference. I seem to be able to feel the stroke better when I am pulling hard. Obviously pulling hard is not sustainable. I struggled a bit getting the same feeling when I was doing my usual spinning stroke. 

I am learning each time that the catch and that first pull is so important. It makes all the difference. Also the recovery, if you cannot recover then the next stroke is going to suck. I am starting to experience my rotation in a whole new way. I was very focussed on the rotation as the pull part of the stroke but the rotation is key in the recovery and getting the paddle back in the water. It has changed the way I think about rotation.

There is also a huge body compensation aspect. As the stroke subtlety changes the body needs to compensate and change. It is so easy to fall back into bad habits before the compensation has taken place. 

So many nuances to consider!

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10 months 1 week ago #35045 by kwolfe
Replied by kwolfe on topic I finally get it!
Man, I'm totally with you on this.  I spent so much time trying to pulling that I wasn't concentrating on the exit and recovery which is sooooooo key.  Like you, I now really focus on the catch and that first 18 inches of the pull.  Then pop that blade out and focus on the next catch.  The best part is, my average speed has increased and my shoulders aren't nearly as tired since I'm not wasting effort pulling water out of the lake by staying in too long.

Keep up the good work!

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