Duct tape is a valuable asset to the unskilled paddleboard repairman or repair-woman. It can be used to patch holes in a board, repair a board bag or fix a leaking paddle among other things.
‘SUP technique improvement tool’ is probably not the first thing your think of when the sticky repair tool is brought up. However, duck tape can help improve your SUP technique, particularly your reach, just as much as it helps with a quick board repair.
I’ll explain how duck tape will help your SUP technique, but first let’s talk about reach.
Reach is the distance you are reaching forward to put your blade in the water. We want to reach as far as possible each time we stroke. In my experience, reach is sometimes over-stressed when discussing paddle stroke technique. You need to reach only as far as you feel comfortable. SUP athletes may reach too far and find themselves off balance when their blade hits the water. Losing your balance is counter-productive to developing a fluid and powerful SUP stroke.
On the other end of the spectrum is not reaching far enough. I refer to this mistake in SUP technique as “T-Rex Arms”. Have you ever seen a T-Rex? They have short stubby arms that couldn’t possibly reach very far.
Make sure you are attaining full extension with your bottom arm, while relaxing the grip on your paddle and the rest of your body. A tight grip with a tense body will not allow you to reach as far as possible. Your top elbow should be bent during the reach part of your stroke. Bring your top hand to your ear to get the motion for bending the elbow.
As in most activities, a lack of mobility will restrict your movement and prevent you from getting maximum reach, rotation and power. Stay tuned for a future post on mobility to learn exercises that will help improve your mobility and SUP technique.
So what to do with the duct tape?
In flat water, reach your paddle to the front of your stroke and mark you board with a piece of tape where the paddle enters the water comfortably.
This is your baseline reach.
Make an effort to reach to this mark during each stroke during your SUP technique and training sessions. If your reach is too short, work on extending your reach past the tape with each practice session.
Get out your duct tape and don’t use T-Rex arms!