With contributions from Olympic paddlers and coaches, professional SUP athletes, health and wellness experts and sports science doctors, we hope to provide a comprehensive and useful approach to SUP training and racing.
This SUP training program is designed to provide the tools and knowledge necessary to help paddlers maximize training time, reach peak performance, prevent injury and learn to train and race smarter, not harder.
In the coming weeks we will be giving you samples from the SUP training programs to help you prepare for the 2015 SUP race season. Start your path to success today with the tips below. Let us know if you have any specific questions you want answered and we look forward to helping you improve!
Tip #1: This is Not Another Stroke Breakdown.
Setting a solid skills foundation with your technique is important. However, the positioning of your body on the board can be even more important as this will effect your technique, balance and ability to paddle efficiently.
Tip #2: Body Positioning
If you work on each phase of the stroke, but have poor body positioning, your technique will suffer through a loss of power, balance and efficiency.
As in almost all athletic endeavors, you want your movements to be made through a low and strong stance. Stand with your feet together and have a friend push you lightly with their hand. Chances are you will fall over pretty easily. Next, stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. Have your friend push you now and see how your body barely reacts.
Your hand placement on the paddle is another key to good body positioning. Imagine shoveling a heavy pile of dirt with your bottom hand close to the top hand. You won’t be able to lift too much dirt at a time. Now put your bottom hand as close to the head of the shovel as possible and your power will increase two-fold.
Hold your paddle as if you were paddling, with one hand on the handle and the other toward the blade, above your head. Now lower your arms until the paddle shaft is resting on top of your head. Your elbows should create no less than a 90 degree angle on each side as you hold your paddle.
Without a strong foundation in your hand and foot positioning, you will not be able to perform at your maximum athletic potential.
Tip #3: Stance
Your legs should be no narrower than shoulder width apart when standing on your board. Put a slight bend in your knees and tilt your hips back. Nothing should be ‘locked out’ on your body. The more relaxed your stance is, the more range of motion you will be able to produce for greater rotation and better technique.
Bent knees and tilted hips will allow your body to have a lower center of gravity and your movements to have more fluidity. This positioning is especially helpful in adverse conditions such as wind and chop.
A lower stance will also allow your bottom hand to grip the paddle closer to the blade. A lower grip will give you better leverage and more power in your stroke.
Play with the width and positioning of your feet and hands to find where you feel the most balanced and powerful. Move one foot slightly in front of the other and your bottom hand up and down your paddle shaft to see how you feel. There is no one correct way to stand on your board or hold your paddle so long as your stance and grip are not too narrow.
Tip #4: Adapting Technique
The outline above lists the basic fundamentals and body positioning for paddle stroke technique. We have already established that there is no one exact way to paddle. Watch a group of professional athletes, such as baseball players, golfers or runners. No two athletes will hit a ball or run the 200 meter sprint using the exact same technique. Each individual will employ different techniques to perform the task for their sport. Paddling is no different. Use the technique breakdown and then adapt it to what works best for you.
Tip #5: Paddling in Wind and Chop
We wish we did not have to write this section, but unfortunately upwind, choppy paddling is a part of becoming a complete paddler. Below are a few adaptations to your stroke that will help in these conditions.
Increase your cadence
The first part of the stroke to think about changing is going to be your cadence, or repetitions. Each time you bring your paddle out of the water you are decelerating your board. With the exception of downwind paddling, deceleration will occur no matter what conditions you are paddling in.
When there is headwind and chop present, deceleration in between strokes increases due to the increased wind and water resistance on the body and board. We can limit deceleration in these situations by decreasing the amount of time our paddle is out of the water. This can be achieved by increasing the speed of our cadence through shorter, faster strokes.
Lower your center of gravity
You should never stand with completely straight legs while paddling or doing any athletic movement. This is especially true in windy and choppy conditions. Bend your knees and widen your stance when paddling in rough water. A lower stance will put you in a more powerful and stable position, create less wind resistance and help you to increase your cadence.
These are just a few small things to think about that can have a huge impact on your training and racing performance. Start experimenting with these tools now and stay tuned for more ways to improve your paddling next week.
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