Paddling Question; More Power or Faster Cadence?

4 years 10 months ago #26911 by Aurelius
Here's the first test video I created this morning. There are probably a hundred things wrong with my stroke, but the most obvious to me is the lack of torso rotation:



The next video was made while paddling my V7, which requires considerably more effort to reach the same speed as before. Notice how there's more pelvic movement happening here than in the SR:

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4 years 10 months ago - 4 years 10 months ago #26913 by photofr
You have to love technology. Here are couple of observations that may help:
1. You are still mentioning speed... now, I know we ultimately look for more speed, but I strongly recommend you slow your speed, and every single movement you make - at least for the time being. This will make you faster later.
2. Look carefully at both videos: there's no pelvic movement to speak of, but don't worry: that can be fixed. I have this drill that will without a doubt MAKE YOU use stomach, legs and back muscles.

DRILL
Please remember: this is only a drill: it is designed to teach something. It is not a representation of how you should paddle. Think of it as an exaggeration that will help you get a feel for rotation.

Paddle your ski and warm up for about 10 minutes.
Take notice on how your elbows are bent: look at them from time to time.
Paddle for 200 meters, and then let your ski glide.
Hold the paddle in front of you, arms STRAIGHT, paddle lined up with the horizon, at about eye-level.
Now simply paddle, without bending your elbows AT ALL.
No bending at the entry, no bending at the exit, no cheating.

I am not going to explain how that is possible: just DO IT, because I know within couple of minutes, you will figure it out.

Let me know how that goes for you, but more importantly: let us know what you feel.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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4 years 10 months ago #26914 by Aurelius
Thanks Ludovic. I was very surprised to see how much my arms were bending at the elbows in both videos. When I'm paddling, it looks to me like they're straight, but video footage doesn't lie. I'll try your drill the next time I'm out in the ski. Probably tomorrow, if things work out.

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4 years 10 months ago #26915 by kwolfe
Funny but photo beat me to it. I see a lot of people who paddle with bent elbows which definitely encourages arm paddling.

The straight arm drill will lead you to a stronger catch and force you to rotate. Once you feel that rotation, you will instinctively use your legs to drive and stabilize the stroke. I try not and let my arms get past 90 degrees ever.

Interestingly enough, using bigger muscle groups will let you go faster, further and at a somewhat lower cadence.

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4 years 10 months ago #26916 by RedBack
Hi Aurelius,
Extending what Ludovic said, - here's another exercise to try:
Hold your paddle as you would normally.
Now, extend the thumb of your right hand and bring it up to touch your nose.
With your thumb remaining in contact with your nose, take several strokes with your left hand.
Now do the same, but with your left thumb and right hand stroke.

You'll notice that you can't bend your stroke arm and still have your thumb in contact with your nose. You have to use your body rotation to move the ski past the blade and have it exit the water.

Whilst it's awkward, difficult and ungainly, this is effectively what you need to do to create a good stroke.
Get rid of any notion that arms drive the ski, - they don't. They're simply used for setting up the next phase of the stroke.

Paddling is not about arms, - it's about rotation.

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4 years 10 months ago #26917 by thorofareken
Aurelius, can you include a picture of how you mounted your camera?

Thanks.

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4 years 10 months ago #26918 by Aurelius

thorofareken wrote: Aurelius, can you include a picture of how you mounted your camera?

Thanks.


I use a GoPro suction cup mount. It has an adapter so that I can use my Garmin Virb camera in place of the GoPro. You can mount it on any part of the ski that has a fairly flat surface.

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4 years 10 months ago #26920 by LaPerouseBay

photofr wrote: There are a lot of positive things here, mainly that you are wanting to get better. That's seriously a huge step that (unfortunately) few people aim at.

Here are some things to help you:
1. BODY POSITION
It's slightly back. This will prevent rotation. Try sitting up tall and slightly forward.


To any beginner with aspirations to paddle a ski properly, this advice is first on Ludo's list for a good reason. Try to get this first, if possible.

The reasons are too numerous to list. All experienced paddlers know it and have dealt with it in their own way.


downwind dilettante
The following user(s) said Thank You: gstamer, OSS, seajak

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4 years 10 months ago - 4 years 10 months ago #26921 by Aurelius
This morning I went out to the lake and tried to incorporate the advice I was given here. Some comments:

1. Paddling with my arms perfectly straight worked, but felt extremely awkward, and it made the paddle blades wobble as they traveled through the water. Bending my elbows slightly and lowering the paddle just a bit improved things considerably. Unfortunately this placed the catch farther away from the hull and at a shallower angle than I would have liked, but my primary focus was on getting the proper leg drive.

2. I started each practice session by twisting my torso to either side as far as I could, both to get the feel for it, and as a baseline for assessing the amount of rotation in my paddle stroke. I wore a cycling jersey that has graphics down the sides, which gives me a clear view of how far my torso was rotating.

3. Probably the most difficult part of this exercise was keeping my elbows from bending. Despite my efforts to keep them immobile, the video clearly shows that I wasn't very successful. This is something that deserves much greater attention in future.

4. Twisting my torso that much further causes the ski to roll quite a bit more. I'd anticipated this, which is why I chose to practice in the Epic V7 rather than the tippier Stellar SR. I'm also not producing as much power using this technique, but I expect that will come in time. At the end of my one hour session, I already felt much more comfortable beginning each stroke with a leg drive, so I anticipate that within a few weeks it will feel completely natural to me.

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4 years 10 months ago #26922 by WingSuit
I am far from an elite paddler, but try this drill: go 10 strokes on each side, get a good powerful catch by plunging the vertical blade in with purpose, then the powerful straight arm pull as you finish. Bending the elbow causes you to arm pull the paddle too close to the boat. Plus it will eventually overwhelm your elbows.

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4 years 10 months ago #26923 by WingSuit
I am far from an elite paddler, but try this drill: go 10 strokes on each side, get a good powerful catch by plunging the vertical blade in with purpose, then the powerful straight arm pull as you finish. Bending the elbow causes you to arm pull the paddle too close to the boat. Plus it will eventually overwhelm your elbows.

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4 years 10 months ago #26924 by Aurelius

WingSuit wrote: I am far from an elite paddler, but try this drill: go 10 strokes on each side, get a good powerful catch by plunging the vertical blade in with purpose, then the powerful straight arm pull as you finish. Bending the elbow causes you to arm pull the paddle too close to the boat. Plus it will eventually overwhelm your elbows.


It's curious to see how paddlers differ on technique. Zsolt keeps his elbows practically locked throughout the entire paddle stroke, but then you have other paddlers who bend their elbows a significant amount during the release phase. The fellow in the video below, for example, bends his elbows much more than I do.



Also of interest to me was this video featuring Jimmy Walker, which shows relatively little trunk rotation, even compared to me:

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4 years 10 months ago #26925 by zachhandler
I agree that the first video shows more arm bend than most elite paddlers.

On the second video i actually think he has great rotation. Rotation of the hips is more important than rotation of the torso relative to the hips. He seems to have great connection from leg drive to hip rotation to torso.

I think it is a pitfall to focus too much on rotation for the sake of rotation. I know paddlers who go through beautiful big rotation, but they are just going through the motions without actually converting leg drive into pressure on the blade, and they cant go fast. A few years ago i took a 90 minute private lesson with sean rice. He actually told me i was over-rotating if anything and told me to forget about rotation.

Making rotation the goal is backwards. Rotation is the result of using the glutes to drive the hip backwards. Rotation is not in and of itself a powerful force. In a way it is like running. The torso rotates in running, but it is a merely consequence of what the legs are doing. If you are running along and start to sprint, rotation will increase as a result. But if you are running along and decide to rotate really hard, you will not go sprint speed as a result.

For what it's worth that zolt video is quite old, and zolt has since changed his stroke drastically. I listened to a podcast by him. If i recall correctly, he went paddling with greg barton, and had an epiphany that delivering power at the catch was way more important than going through the big rotation he had been taught as a team paddler in hungary.

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4 years 10 months ago - 4 years 10 months ago #26927 by Aurelius

zachhandler wrote: I agree that the first video shows more arm bend than most elite paddlers.

On the second video i actually think he has great rotation. Rotation of the hips is more important than rotation of the torso relative to the hips. He seems to have great connection from leg drive to hip rotation to torso.


I'm noticing the lack of knee movement. The amount that his knees are rising and dropping indicates the degree of pelvic rotation, and his knees move quite a bit less than what you see in the videos of Zsolt, Holmann, or any of the other instructional videos posted in this thread. That's why this particular video stood out in my mind. Also compare where his stroke ends. In the videos of other elite paddlers, you can observe that when viewed from the front, the stroke twist ends at the point where their elbows line up with their chins, whereas in this video, the twist stops at approximately in the middle of his forearm.

I think it is a pitfall to focus too much on rotation for the sake of rotation. I know paddlers who go through beautiful big rotation, but they are just going through the motions without actually converting leg drive into pressure on the blade, and they cant go fast. A few years ago i took a 90 minute private lesson with sean rice. He actually told me i was over-rotating if anything and told me to forget about rotation.

Making rotation the goal is backwards. Rotation is the result of using the glutes to drive the hip backwards. Rotation is not in and of itself a powerful force. In a way it is like running. The torso rotates in running, but it is a merely consequence of what the legs are doing. If you are running along and start to sprint, rotation will increase as a result. But if you are running along and decide to rotate really hard, you will not go sprint speed as a result.

For what it's worth that zolt video is quite old, and zolt has since changed his stroke drastically. I listened to a podcast by him. If i recall correctly, he went paddling with greg barton, and had an epiphany that delivering power at the catch was way more important than going through the big rotation he had been taught as a team paddler in hungary.


It will be interesting to see what others have to say about this. I understand the point that pelvic rotation by itself won't get you a more powerful stroke. It's possible to rotate your pelvis as far as it will go without imparting any movement to the paddle at all. But my understanding is that the twisting motion begins with the leg drive (quadriceps femoris), which is then aided by the combined contraction of the erector spinae (lower back), latisimus dorsi (upper back), and posterior deltoid (shoulder). So by not using any leg drive at the start of the paddle stroke, you are eliminating one of the key muscle groups from contributing to the movement.

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4 years 10 months ago #26928 by Jordan
Just thought i'd add my two cents.

1. Hip rotation is looking much better in the second video and will provide a good basis for an efficient stroke!

2. Essentially the paddling "stroke" is very similar to the action you would use when throwing a ball. You are engaging the same muscles and employing the same rotation of the torso. Just remove the paddle and add a ball!
I found this a good notion along with imagining my hips are on separate runners, moving back and forth.

3. I think more important for you at this moment in time is raising your hands, not allowing them to drop down below head level. Keeping the hands up will allow a more vertical entry on the catch, and thus a greater lever.

4. Another important thing to work on is the straight arm on the catch and set up phase. This ensures you are using the whole of your arm length and that rotation to best use. I've attached a few pictures of myself and a few others to help you visualise this Set up and catch phase B)

A good drill for this is, catch up, just like you would swimming. By slowing the stroke down, ensuring that your arm is out straight at head level and the recovery arm is at 90 degrees somewhere around ear level. You are ensuring you are ready to execute the next stroke with rotation and get the most out of it.

Hope this helps! Tim Brabants the flatwater K1 paddler is a great technician to have a look at. very effecient!
Attachments:

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4 years 10 months ago #26929 by photofr
Here’s the logic I used in convincing my students to start rotation early on in their paddling, thus making rotation a goal.

The ultimate goal for pretty much every paddler is more speed and less effort. A very easy way to add efficiency is using several muscle GROUPS instead of one single group (otherwise known as arms). At the end of the day, that one muscle group (arms) cannot compete against four muscle groups (legs, abs, back muscles, and arms). To make good use of the 3 other groups, I find that a good rotation should be a focus. Don’t just rotate to rotate, but when you use all four groups, you will in fact be rotating. There’s no ways around that.

Why the goal of rotation?
Take 5 paddling buddies who paddle with zero rotation (all arms). After approximately 80 minutes of straight paddling, you will notice one single common denominator: a very distinct drop in speed and performance. Take 5 other buddies who are known for having a good rotation, and even include an “old fart” in the group. You’ll notice that after the same 80 minutes, their speed doesn’t just magically drop.

So, in my opinion, you should be rotating, though not forcing a rotation. Tape your elbows with metal rulers if you have to. Paddle at 5 km/h if you must, but first and foremost: get a feeling for rotation by using all the right muscles: PADDLE WITH YOUR ARMS TOTALLY STRAIGHT, exit and all. Once you master this, you can change, adapt your own style, bend slightly at the exit, etc…but you are not there yet. Start with straight arms, and feel your muscles engaging.

photofr.smugmug.com/FindYourPhotos-1/201...Day-with/i-x3L6NbQ/A

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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4 years 10 months ago #26930 by SurfskiEstonia
Photofr's advice on straight arms is probably one of the most effective You could get here. It's also the way many K1 coaches teach beginners.

I would also suggest that You learn how to sit on a swiss ball and do the following drill:


It may seem impossible at first, but if You manage to simply sit on it and twist a little, it would give You a lot of extra stability to rotate freely on a ski. That's what I did in the winter for a couple of months and in spring was able to learn how to paddle a K1 in a rather short period of time. I think this is one of the easiest things You can do off-water to improve on stability and understand core rotation.

Current: Carbonology Boost double, Jantex Gamma Mid
Previous: Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus

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4 years 10 months ago - 4 years 10 months ago #26932 by Aurelius
Today's practice session seems to have anticipated a few of the recent comments. Since I'm now feeling much more comfortable using the leg drive, I decided that this morning I'd turn my attention to other things that had previously been neglected. First, I tightened the footstrap to eliminate the unintended steering inputs I experienced in previous sessions, and add a bit of stability to the ski. Following someone else's suggestion, I also tried to lean forward slightly rather than sitting bolt upright. Most importantly, I corrected the height and angle of my paddle, keeping my hands at or above eye level, and the blades close to the hull at the catch. The result of all this was a much more natural looking paddle stroke, and an end to the power loss I'd experienced in previous sessions. The Epic V7 may be the perfect ski to practice my stroke on because it's very stable, but feels like pulling a barge through the water. It's slowness gives you ample time to really feel the results of subtle changes in technique.



After filming this bit, disaster nearly struck when my suction cup mount threatened to separate from the hull! Rather than risk sending $300 worth of equipment to the bottom of the lake, I put the camera back in the car. In future I'm going to take the precaution of taping the camera mount to the hull.

As luck would have it, the last (unfilmed) portion of my session turned out to be the best one. This time I tried straightening my arms completely during the catch phase, in preparation for a more aggressive stroke. I must have gotten the timing just right, because when I pushed hard into the footrest and unwound my torso, the resulting pull almost ripped the paddle out of my hand! I grabbed the shaft as tightly as I could and managed it one more time, but couldn't recreate it after that. No matter, because my muscles are not developed enough to cope with that kind of force for more than a few seconds, but it was a glorious few seconds!

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4 years 10 months ago #26933 by WingSuit
Note to self: always tether camera to boat!

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4 years 10 months ago - 4 years 10 months ago #26934 by Aurelius

SurfskiEstonia wrote: I would also suggest that You learn how to sit on a swiss ball and do the following drill:



It may seem impossible at first, but if You manage to simply sit on it and twist a little, it would give You a lot of extra stability to rotate freely on a ski. That's what I did in the winter for a couple of months and in spring was able to learn how to paddle a K1 in a rather short period of time. I think this is one of the easiest things You can do off-water to improve on stability and understand core rotation.


That's pretty interesting. I wonder where you can get one of those things. As kids, we used to have ones with a handle so that you could bounce around on it without falling off, but I haven't seen one since then.

Never mind, I just found them on Amazon. Now I just have to decide which color I want. I think the red might be easiest to balance on. ;)

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