Complete newbie questions... Help!

1 month 2 weeks ago #36055 by MarkRP88
Firstly, thank you all for the knowledge and tips you guys give. For a complete newbie it's been amazingly helpful reading through the forums. 
So, I caught the bug recently and bought an old fenn xt and wing paddle to learn on. I'm loving the new challenge and the near vertical learning curve. I've paddled it only four times in flat water, I'm surprised how fast a ski can go : even when a learner is in control. I have a few questions that I need help with please. 
1. Feathering. I get it and have been experimenting. What is meant by feathering right or feathering left? 

2. Paddle length. Again I'm experimenting here. I'm 5'10" with long arms so have tried 210cm and variations. The longer the paddle the more rotation in the upper body, however, my balance is still off so rotation can affect my stability. Should I go with a shorter length whilst I'm learning?

3. Ive been working on driving my leg down and hips back through the stroke. I'm pushing from my heal but still have an issue with stamping on the pedals and changing the rudder, so I'm all over the place. Couple that with imbalances in the stroke and I'm having a difficult time keeping the boat straight. How do I overcome this? 

4. What is the one critical piece of advice you would give to yourself if you could go back to the 3rd or 4th time you paddled? What fundamental would you focus on. 

I am a true newbie to paddling, never even sat in a kayak. The old thing I've done is SUP. I'm going OK, fallen out 5 or 6 times but this has lead me to perfecting getting back on the ski. 

Thanks in advance guys 


 

Current: Fenn XT

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1 month 2 weeks ago #36056 by robin.mousley
Hey Mark

Feathering. I get it and have been experimenting. What is meant by feathering right or feathering left?

A right hand feather (aka twist) is when the right hand side of the paddle shaft is twisted towards you.

Most paddlers use around 60-67 degrees but there's also a movement towards zero feather angle.  It doesn't suit me, but see this article:

To Feather or Not to Feather...

Paddle length. Again I'm experimenting here. I'm 5'10" with long arms so have tried 210cm and variations. The longer the paddle the more
rotation in the upper body, however, my balance is still off so rotation
can affect my stability. Should I go with a shorter length whilst I'm
learning?

You might want to have a look at the paddle size tool on the Epic Kayaks site:

Epic Kayaks Paddle Wizard

That'll give you some guidelines.  But it is definitely a good idea to use a shorter, smaller paddle while you get your technique baked into your muscle memory!  Anything that makes you feel awkward or unbalanced should be avoided!

Ive been working on driving my leg down and hips back through the stroke. I'm pushing from my heal but still have an issue with stamping
on the pedals and changing the rudder,

The most important thing is rotation - you shouldn't focus on your heels or pushing against the footplate at all.  If you're rotating properly, the foot drive will come automatically.  This is difficult to describe - but it's fundamental and vital to get right. 

There's a bunch of good videos on technique on Youtube - search for "Oscar Chalupsky stroke technique" or "ivan lawler stroke technique". 

4. What is the one critical piece of advice you would give to yourself if you could go back to the 3rd or 4th time you paddled? What
fundamental would you focus on.

I'd have sought out a coach earlier in my paddling career!  Where do you live?  Even if there aren't coaches near by, many of the elite paddlers offer coaching clinics at races so you could attend a clinic at one of the big races.

Good luck!

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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1 month 2 weeks ago - 1 month 3 days ago #36057 by leolinha
1) If you are beginning now, zero feather is the best choice for a lot of reasons. Oscar Chalupsky is the greatest promoter of this idea. Zero feather means zero unnecessary complications.

2) As a beginner, I bet that you won't notice a huge difference if you change your paddle length. Can't go wrong with 210 cm. I am 5'9'' and used 210cm for years. Nowadays I prefer something between 205 and 208 and I use a very small blade (Think Powerwing). My shoulders thank me for that.

3) It helps to angle the pedals further forward, so that they won't steer the boat too much if you step on them while driving with your legs. I also believe that rotation is essential but this will come with time and experience. I think that the #1 priority of a beginner should be stability and feeling safe on the boat. Once stable, feeling safe and having a lot of fun, your #2 concern should be your posture: keep your spine well organized, don't slouch, don't raise your elbows too much etc. These are the most important things, so that you are safe and don't hurt yourself. Then eventually you will want to go faster! To improve your  speed will require good rotation and application of force, but your ability to do this won't come overnight, your muscles will need time to adapt to those movements. Don't rush things. That "Oh gosh, I am doing everything right but still don't go faster"-feeling is all too common.

4) I had no stability issues as a beginner because I started on an Epic V8 and paddled it for 3 years, before risking an upgrade to a V10 Sport. So that if I were to travel in time and give myself an advice, it would be: work on proper posture! That's the most important thing. Look for a coach and keep that back straight, elbows down.

Other advice that I can think of is: never give in to the temptation to move to a less stable boat unless you have been absolutely solid in your current boat for at least 2-3 years. It seems to be an easy advice to follow but believe me, many people will try to convince you otherwise. They will talk and talk until you think that jumping onto a skinnier boat will automatically give you a speed boost. Not gonna happen!

Current: Epic V8 PRO, Think Evo 3
Past: Epic V8, Epic V10 Sport
The following user(s) said Thank You: Blackadder

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1 month 2 weeks ago #36058 by waverider
It takes a strong, fit and experienced paddler to use a longer paddle properly, most people use a long paddle to compensate for lack of rotation. If your paddle is on the shorter side you will be forced to rotate to get the required reach on the catch.

Learn to put weight with confidence on your catch this is your preferred bracing as you dont break your stroke to do it. You can pull or push off whichever blade is already being placed in the water. If you start relying on slapping the back of your paddle down to stop the wobbles you will tend to lean back, slow down, break your stroke as you have to suddenly slap the blade on the side you are tipping to even if are about make a catch on the opposite  side to where you are about to make the stroke. These all go to mess with your momentum and make you even more unstable. The back of blade "skim" brace is for following seas where the wave is pushing you forward, or you are deliberately slowing/ manoeuvring.

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1 month 2 weeks ago #36059 by waverider
Nail your remounts then you dont feel anxious about falling out.

Practice leaning your boat, as it will roll and you have to let it rather than trying keep it horizontal by trying to right it with your hips. Keeping your eyes on the horizon will help you keep your torso aligned vertical rather than staring at your feet or the tip of your boat

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1 month 2 weeks ago #36061 by SpaceSputnik
If I was to give only one piece of advice for 3rd or 4th paddle it would be to spend time and try different leg lengths. Small adjustments make a big difference to just about anything in a ski.

Current: Think Evo II, Stellar SES 1g.
Past: Epic V7

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1 month 3 days ago - 1 month 3 days ago #36138 by Tinus
I'm not a experienced paddler but I'll give this a go anyway.

1. Feather is no good for anything so go for 0 degrees.
2. If I could go back I would start with a shorter paddle and a smaller blade. Since you are not that tall you might want to stay well below the 210cm. I thought I was tall and strong when I began paddling so I got a big paddle blade at 220cm and the tendons in my elbows became inflamed and that took a lot of time to get better.
3. Adjust the pedals so they are straight or just slightly pointing away from you. You probably aren't going to do fast steering maneuvers anyway so as long as you can press on the pedals enough to navigate you'll be fine.
4. Sit in the boat and practice without paddling. Just sit with a paddle out to the side and find your balance, try to relax. Then start to do things like leaning the boat, lifting the paddle, lift and lean. Practice on both sides.

Nelo 560, Stellar SEI, Roman Furius

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1 month 3 days ago #36139 by PharmGeek
I was a "newb" 2-3 years ago....although now im not sure what the heck I call myself.....well, that aside....

for technique, lots of learnin….i think finding a coach will be a huge help...i live in middle of alabama and paddling is not hype here sadly, and no other performance paddlers to teach were around, so i used web coaches (current coach is Hayley Nixon, she is wonderful to work with for planning my training weekly and technique coaching using video etc).

I used zero degree for a while as I grew up doing zero as a rec paddler, but after a few months at zero it didn't feel ergonomic for me somehow, at 30 degrees now I feel perfect...that's anecdotal of course, but i guess if something doesn't work, fiddle? 

leg drive! boom...yep....there are so many parts of the stroke to learn, absolutely mind boggling at first I felt like.  Ill say this, as my attempt to express how some "key aspects" *feel* for me:...i focus on my hips...so for the catch, I imagine my hip coming as far forward as rotation/pivot will allow, and that hip sorta grabbing a taught rope attached to the paddle...so once I nail the catch, that hip is now then when coming backwards, is pulling on tension, the power phase...if that happens right, I got the catch.....and it tends to help me focus on the leg drive....the hands, upper body need to do other stuff right, but i don't know, i find that little thought process helpful at times....so um...there ya go? lol

In the end, i ask others to coach me over time for technique.

Regardless of technique, if you happen to start from "ground zero" and are "entirely NOT fit", then you will quickly find out that your paddling speeds are "slow"...it helped me to embrace "going slow" for most of my sessions for the first few months, and 'going slow helped me speed up" (to kinda quote phil maffetone) did apply well in my case...i found that paddling and other workouts getting 3-6 hrs per week lead to massive improvement from "ground zero"....but at first the "easy low hr" sessions felt ridiculous, my HR would spike absurdly easy....if you are already far more fit as an athlete and crossing over to paddling, this may not follow the same track at all....

Good luck!!! 

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1 month 2 days ago - 1 month 2 days ago #36142 by SpaceSputnik
I also started off with zero feather and about a season and a half later found that varying degrees of right feather indeed feel more ergonomic and powerful. Went through 35-45 and stopped at 60. When I am in my sea kayak I use 45, I suspect due to a different shape of the stroke that that boat requires. I could go back to 45 on a ski also, but not 0, that doesn't feel right.

Current: Think Evo II, Stellar SES 1g.
Past: Epic V7

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1 month 2 days ago #36147 by Scott S
One piece of advice. Practice your brace stroke equally as much as your forward stroke. Once it’s bombproof and subconscious you will be relaxed and able to work on every other aspect of your paddling so much better.
2nd piece of advice good posture and get some technique coaching. Finally getting some coaching and realised balance isn’t just learnt muscle memory but dramatically improved when you learn good technique. 

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