Paddling Question; More Power or Faster Cadence?

5 years 4 months ago #26820 by dannyboy
In general terms if one wants to cover a given distance in a shorter period of time do you:
a. Use more powerful stroke
or
b. Use a faster cadence?

I tried both this weekend and it seemed that the faster cadence left me feeling stronger yet i felt like i was faster. It was not a given distance and i did not have a stop watch. just seat of pants feeling.

Is there a best technique or is it dependent on distance of the course traveled.

Example , sprint kayakers have a wicked fast cadence . Similar technique for say 5,000 meters or slower and more powerful stroke for longer distances?

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5 years 4 months ago #26821 by WingSuit
Cadence equals speed, if it is combined with a powerful stroke using proper technique. Rotation, paddle vertical at catch, etc. What you don't want to do to elongate the stroke by not getting the paddle out of the water soon enough while trying to harvest more power on each stroke. Not only is there less power if the paddle is "behind" you, it can actually create drag and slow you down. That being said, use a gps based watch or device to measure your metrics and you will know for sure. You can even measure your cadence electronically.
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5 years 4 months ago #26822 by dannyboy
Appreciate the info.

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5 years 4 months ago #26824 by zachhandler
Believe me, focusing on increased cadence is the wrong way to become a faster paddler.

You need to focus on a more effective stroke with a rock solid catch and effective utilization of core and leg muscles. I know you don't have that mastered because every elite i have talked too (oscar, jasper, sean, etc) says they are constantly working on improving their stroke mechanics. So everyone needs to work on it.

Increasing cadence is easy. You can do that tomorrow. However it can only take you so far.

Improving stroke mechanics is much harder, but has the potential to bring much much larger gains.

A useful drill is to have a gps and a metronome (many such apps exist for smartphones). Paddle at a medium slow rate to the metronome. Then try to increase your speed as measured by gps, while still paddling in time with the metronome.

Current Skis: Kai Wa’a Vega, Nelo 550L g2, Epic V12 g2, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X

Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
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5 years 4 months ago - 5 years 4 months ago #26825 by WingSuit
Sounds like we said the same thing, cadence equals speed "if combined with a powerful stroke using proper technique". Like Zach points out, Fast cadence with poor technique will not make you go faster. If you are a newer paddler, you have to dial in that technique while building your endurance and eventually increased cadence. Two people with the same power output (if that is possible) the one with the higher cadence goes faster.

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5 years 4 months ago #26826 by AR_convert
Remember also that physiologically we are all different and will have different types of muscle fibres and lever lengths, throw in paddle length and blade size to make it even more complex. Both cycling and swimming also show that there is no one way of achieving top performance. Even at Olympic level you will see athletes with different cadence due to these differences.

As a swimmer I was taught to swim laps and aim to reduce the amount of strokes I took each lap, this meant I was making my strokes more effective. You can do this without a fancy meter when paddling with a group, pick someone rating about the same as you then see if you can match the speed but reduce your cadence. Experiment with various parts of your stroke to see how you can be more effective without you heart rate going through the roof ( often the issue when still building strength through the core)

I had to increase my cadence markedly for around 2 months leading up to a K2 event as my partner (much shorter than I, rated much higher). In order to do this I had to reduce my paddle length but even so due to my height and long arms I never felt like I could rotate and get my catch in quick enough.

Now that I've gone back to my usual paddle length and cadence I am much quicker for the same heart rate.

As wingsuit said "if you are a newer paddler, you have to dial in that technique while building your endurance and eventually increased cadence".

It's often tempting when training as a group to always be doing intervals at race pace, I actually find the best intervals are at around 70%. Just backing off that little bit and taking your time allows you to make every stroke count and you can leave the water really feeling it through your core and lats. Paddling with a band around your hull to slow you down can have the same effect.

I love that its a sport easy to start but always keeps you working on being better, more technically proficient.

Always looking for the next boat :)
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5 years 4 months ago - 5 years 4 months ago #26831 by Aurelius

In general terms if one wants to cover a given distance in a shorter period of time do you:
a. Use more powerful stroke
or
b. Use a faster cadence?

I tried both this weekend and it seemed that the faster cadence left me feeling stronger yet i felt like i was faster. It was not a given distance and i did not have a stop watch. just seat of pants feeling.

Is there a best technique or is it dependent on distance of the course traveled.

Example , sprint kayakers have a wicked fast cadence . Similar technique for say 5,000 meters or slower and more powerful stroke for longer distances?


I'm still at beginner level when it comes to paddling, but I'm pretty scientifically minded, so I've been experimenting over the past few weeks by changing variables like paddle size (medium to large), cadence, posture, trunk rotation, paddle entry angle, etc., etc., all the while keeping a close eye on my GPS.

Increasing cadence is obviously going to result in higher speeds, but for an inexperienced paddler like me, it comes at the cost of poorer and poorer technique as cadence increases. For example, my best top speed on a lake in my Stellar SR so far is 8.1 mph. But at that speed I have to paddle so fast that my technique goes out the window: I'm flailing my arms, having trouble maintaining my balance, and using much less trunk rotation than I should.

Of all the variables I experimented with, the biggest change in efficiency resulted from full trunk rotation. I discovered this quite by accident after doing a five mile practice race. By the end, I was so tired that it was a struggle to lift my arms. At that point I decided to try keeping both arms as straight as possible (little or no bending at the elbows or shoulders), and moving the paddle using ONLY trunk rotation. To my amazement, my speed suddenly increased from 5.3 mph to 5.9 mph! I now use this method whenever I paddle. The trick is doing it when you're not tired, because it's so easy to lapse back into the habit of pushing the paddle with your arms and not twisting your torso far enough.

Later I found this video of Knut Holman, using exactly the technique I tried. Notice how he keeps his arms almost straight throughout the stroke, and how the blade moves away from the hull at a pretty steep angle. It looks a bit strange, and I would never have thought this technique would work well if I hadn't seen the results myself.

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5 years 4 months ago #26851 by photofr
As a side note that you may still find relevant: When I used to teach serious paddlers who wanted to simply GO FASTER, I used a simple technique. I had my students slow down their stroke to work specifically on STROKE accuracy, not cadence, and not power.

Power is relatively easy, and so is higher cadence. Try letting your ski glide between each stroke, and now just focus on your stroke. Once you have improved a little, apply more power. Finally, apply more cadence, and watch how it all goes out the window :)

Slow it down, repeat. I believe you will like the results.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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5 years 4 months ago #26853 by Newbflat
Be carful with "twisting"

Be aware that it's not really that much "twisting your torso" in Knut's stroke, or any other good sprint paddler. It is full torso rotation from the hips created threw leg drive. Very little twisting going on except a little on release and setup for the next stroke, but not in the power phase. As he goes threw a stroke draw a mental line from his shoulder to his hip. Now watch thrueout the stroke and notice how they stay in line. This is why the majority of power in a solid stroke is from your legs. The more you can rotate/drive your pelvis the longer the power phase of the stroke. Easer to do in a sprint boat than a ski but the principle and goal is the same.

This is a good vid to see the relationship between the shoulder and hip.



In general terms if one wants to cover a given distance in a shorter period of time do you:
a. Use more powerful stroke
or
b. Use a faster cadence?

I tried both this weekend and it seemed that the faster cadence left me feeling stronger yet i felt like i was faster. It was not a given distance and i did not have a stop watch. just seat of pants feeling.

Is there a best technique or is it dependent on distance of the course traveled.

Example , sprint kayakers have a wicked fast cadence . Similar technique for say 5,000 meters or slower and more powerful stroke for longer distances?


I'm still at beginner level when it comes to paddling, but I'm pretty scientifically minded, so I've been experimenting over the past few weeks by changing variables like paddle size (medium to large), cadence, posture, trunk rotation, paddle entry angle, etc., etc., all the while keeping a close eye on my GPS.

Increasing cadence is obviously going to result in higher speeds, but for an inexperienced paddler like me, it comes at the cost of poorer and poorer technique as cadence increases. For example, my best top speed on a lake in my Stellar SR so far is 8.1 mph. But at that speed I have to paddle so fast that my technique goes out the window: I'm flailing my arms, having trouble maintaining my balance, and using much less trunk rotation than I should.

Of all the variables I experimented with, the biggest change in efficiency resulted from full trunk rotation. I discovered this quite by accident after doing a five mile practice race. By the end, I was so tired that it was a struggle to lift my arms. At that point I decided to try keeping both arms as straight as possible (little or no bending at the elbows or shoulders), and moving the paddle using ONLY trunk rotation. To my amazement, my speed suddenly increased from 5.3 mph to 5.9 mph! I now use this method whenever I paddle. The trick is doing it when you're not tired, because it's so easy to lapse back into the habit of pushing the paddle with your arms and not twisting your torso far enough.

Later I found this video of Knut Holman, using exactly the technique I tried. Notice how he keeps his arms almost straight throughout the stroke, and how the blade moves away from the hull at a pretty steep angle. It looks a bit strange, and I would never have thought this technique would work well if I hadn't seen the results myself.


FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)

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5 years 4 months ago #26854 by Aurelius

Be carful with "twisting"

Be aware that it's not really that much "twisting your torso" in Knut's stroke, or any other good sprint paddler. It is full torso rotation from the hips created threw leg drive. Very little twisting going on except a little on release and setup for the next stroke, but not in the power phase. As he goes threw a stroke draw a mental line from his shoulder to his hip. Now watch thrueout the stroke and notice how they stay in line. This is why the majority of power in a solid stroke is from your legs.


Unfortunately these videos are a bit deceptive because the amount of hip swivel is made possible by a rotating seat. It's physically impossible for me to move my hips that far in my ski because it has a fixed seat. What little hip rotation I do get is made possible by the elasticity of my skin, which allows me to rotate my pelvis without sliding around. I would love to be able to better utilize my legs for the drive because I have very strong legs from years of cycling, but without a swiveling seat, it just isn't possible.

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5 years 4 months ago - 5 years 4 months ago #26855 by Newbflat
No it is not deceptive. They demonstrate the optimal stroke regardless of what boat your in. In some boats it's easer than others and yes, with a swivel seat you get more if you are stable enough to use one. But you can get a lot of hip rotatio/ leg drive in a ski as well.

If you fit correctly in your bucket. Are wearing cloths that are low friction, have your foot board length correct, unload your non driving foot, have a solid catch, drive hard off your heal and get the timing right you can rotate your hips a lot and right threw the power phase. Don't blame it on the lack of a sliding seat, it's a skill. If you practice, practice, practice it will come. I've been working on it for a number of years and I still have a long way to go but it is paying off. My lack of technique in getting solid and powerful leg drive has nothing to do with the ski or lack of a sliding seat, it's all me and my slowly developing (and very average) technique. Is it easer with a sliding seat? For some that can actually use one. Is it easer in a K-1? Yes but that doesn't mean you can't do it in a ski as well.

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)

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5 years 4 months ago #26856 by zachhandler
Dont be confused by the rotating seat. Most top k1 racers do not use a rotating seat. Some do but most don't.

Current Skis: Kai Wa’a Vega, Nelo 550L g2, Epic V12 g2, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X

Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

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5 years 4 months ago #26861 by Ranga
I rotate much more in my ski than in a K1, not because of any other thing but stability. Forget about rotating if you cannot balance. As the ski gets more stable I can rotate more.
Rotating seat only reduces friction, does nothing for actual rotation angle.

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5 years 4 months ago #26868 by Aurelius
I've just been paddling in a local lake, trying to see if I could rotate my pelvis as some here have been describing. It proved to be impossible. Unless I find a way of substantially reducing the friction between the seat bucket and my swim trunks, twisting my back is the only way to produce any significant rotation.

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5 years 4 months ago #26869 by Kayaker Greg
Maybe your butt will swivel a little in your seat but be aware the lumbar region is not made to swivel, that is what your thoracic spine is for, the lumbar region should be stable for good power transfer and safety from injury.

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5 years 4 months ago #26870 by Aurelius

Maybe your butt will swivel a little in your seat but be aware the lumbar region is not made to swivel, that is what your thoracic spine is for, the lumbar region should be stable for good power transfer and safety from injury.


My butt does swivel a little, but only as far as the elasticity of my skin will allow. If you were to watch me from the side, you might see my knees raising and lowering about an inch as I'm paddling, but that's it. I'm not getting anywhere near the hip rotation shown in the videos above. The only way I've been able to replicate that is when sitting in my swivel chair.

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5 years 4 months ago #26871 by Kayaker Greg
For some reason I can't see any of the videos mentioned above, just blank spaces on the page. Only this site, Google Chrome, Windows 10.

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5 years 4 months ago #26872 by Newbflat
One or more of these things is the issue.

1. You have a physical issue keeping you from moving your hips.
2. You have your ski set up wrong/ bad fit.
3. You are wearing the wrong cloth.
4. Your not doing it right. Wrong technique.
5. Saying it can't be done while other people are doing it demands intervention from professionals.

Make sure there is nothing else in your bucket like a seat pad that you are sticking to. You can wax it to make it slippery. Ditch the swimming trunks and get some proper paddling pants or at least Lycra or some nylon covered neoprene shorts. You can put a plastic bag in the bucket so the two layers act as a low friction surface (this works very well) . Make sure you are not tight in the bucket. You should be loose in the bucket but not flopping around. You should be free to move with no restrictions. Not like a kayak.

Set up your foot board so that when you drive with one leg the back of your leg just barely touches the bottom of the cockpit. But make sure you are not driving yourself tightly into the back of the seat, this in critical! If you drive your butt into the back of the seat you will lock in your hips keep them from rotating. You drive the ski forward with your heals, not the back of the seat. You should be rotating your ass in the seat, not driving your lower back/butt into the back of the seat.

Make sure!.. you unload your non driving leg when driving with the other foot. To help with this, tighten your foot strap tight on your feet and use a push-pull action with your legs to exaggerate (and feel ) your hips rotating. In the future you won't need to push-pull but it helps initially. You will need to unload your non driving leg though.

There is a relationship between how hard you drive with your foot to how hard you paddle and how much you rotate. You will notice when the "pros" are just cruising there is not much rotation, when paddling fast a lot and when full sprinting you will see the most. You are trying to balance the paddles pressure with your leg drive. If you drive too hard for the strokes power, you push yourself back into the bucket limiting rotation. If you drive too little for the power of the stroke you loose potential energy, shorten the power phase and don't rotate as much as you could (all the same thing really).

Stretch before you get it the ski so your hips are loose. Warm up or try again after you warm up. My body works better all around after 20 min paddling.... Ie: I'm old and stiff.

It takes time patience and practice, not one outing.

Well that's my take on rotation.... I could well be wrong though.

But the single most important thing you should do is go get some proper wing paddle coaching and not believe random things you read on Internet forums by people that think they know what there talking about...*cough* :whistle: . There is nothing that will help your stroke out more that that. It is just too hard and self deceiving to self diagnose you stroke.


Maybe your butt will swivel a little in your seat but be aware the lumbar region is not made to swivel, that is what your thoracic spine is for, the lumbar region should be stable for good power transfer and safety from injury.


My butt does swivel a little, but only as far as the elasticity of my skin will allow. If you were to watch me from the side, you might see my knees raising and lowering about an inch as I'm paddling, but that's it. I'm not getting anywhere near the hip rotation shown in the videos above. The only way I've been able to replicate that is when sitting in my swivel chair.


FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)
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5 years 4 months ago #26873 by Aurelius
Thanks for the detailed reply, Newbflat. I just spent a couple of hours with the Stellar dealer explaining the issue and seeing what he had to say about it. He's the one who set up the ski for me, and did watch me paddle it in the lake for a while before purchasing it. He had several suggestions, starting with ditching my swim trunks for a set of lycra shorts. When I mentioned that I had many lycra cycling shorts, he said that should work. I'll be trying them out tomorrow to see if they help. He also mentioned waxing the seat as an alternative, but not to try both solutions at the same time, as that would likely lead to me sliding around uncontrollably.

Interestingly enough, he did not agree that the hips should rotate all that much, saying that most of the trunk rotation should result from twisting the spine.

On Sunday, I'm having a friend come over and video me paddling from various angles. Hopefully that will clearly identify any mistakes I'm making.

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5 years 4 months ago #26874 by Ranga
A good point made earlier, never push back on the seat! Drive your heels onto the footboard, push yourself forward, not backwards. People think because you have a high back to the seat it is asking you to drive backwards, not true, a kayak seat has relatively not back to it but they manage much better technique. A good way to help with this is to try keep a very small gap at the back of the seat and feel your butt rotating against the back of the seat.

Also keep your paddle shaft parallel with your chest at all times in the stroke, this will make you rotate, you have no option.

Once again if you cannot sit in your ski without wobbling, forget anything anyone has said. Because all you are doing is keeping yourself upright. A very famous saying , "STABILITY BEFORE ABILITY"
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