Paddle like a Champion: Seychelle's Top 5 SUP Technique Tips
One of the things that I love the most about paddling is how complex of a sport it truly is. There is infinite potential to improve on the technique, fitness, and skills required to excel at SUP. Every body is different. There are several fundamental principles that apply to efficient, effective, and powerful paddling technique across the board. However, how we accomplish those fundamentals is going to be unique to every individual paddler.
I have compiled a list of my top 5 technique tips with a description of how I aim to execute them. This list is far from extensive, but it should give you a good start on improving paddling technique and connection to your stroke.
1. Use your body weight to bury the blade.
At the catch, we want to try to bury the blade using our body weight on to the paddle as opposed to using our arms or back as the primary driving force. As the paddle enters the water, we want our body to lower down. This can be as simple as bending the knees and ankles and lowering the hips, or as radical as feeling like we are “falling” on to our paddle. I aim for somewhere in the middle. Some degree of leg bend is preferred to hinging or folding at the waist as this action puts a lot of stress on the lower back.
2. Use forward momentum at the catch
In addition to dropping our body weight on to the paddle at the catch, we want the paddle to enter the water moving forward and in. Our board has forward momentum. Our paddle needs to have forward momentum. This is where that “falling” on the blade can come in handy as our weight moves forward as you fall. This is a bit of an exaggerated way to describe it, but it helps get the forward momentum message across. Other ways to describe this are to think about scooping or spearing the water with your paddle tip as it enters the water.
3. Bury your paddle blade deeply at the catch
As you are driving your paddle in to the water using your body weight with forward momentum, make sure that you are going all the way in as quickly as you can. You want to sink the paddle in to the water all the way up to the joint where the paddle and shaft are connected as quickly as possible. There is no need to go deeper than this, but a common error I see recreational paddlers making all the time is not burying the blade deeply or quickly enough at the catch.
4. Maintain a positive blade angle as much as you can throughout the stroke
Your paddle blade enters the water with a positive, forward angle. Work to maintain that positive blade angle as long as you can throughout the stroke. We cannot see our paddle blade under the water, but we can see the angle of our shaft. In order for me to accomplish this, I try to keep my chest up, facing forward, and my top hand in front of my face. As soon as my top hand drops below my chin, I know my paddle is at negative angle.
Another tip here: Use your peripheral vision to do this. Try not to get in the habit of watching your paddle enter and exit the water. Always look where you are going.
5. Work on your paddling technique every time you paddle!
Take 5 - 10 minutes before the start of every paddle workout to dial in some aspect of your paddling technique. Not only will this help you get in a proper warm up before beginning your workout, it will help you feel connected and keep you making improvements consistently to your stroke. I take an entire workout every week and dedicate it solely to my technique. I break my stroke up in to drills that I perform that help improve different aspects of the stroke and body mechanics. If you are curious about the drills that I do to help improve my technique as well as the workouts that I perform to improve all aspects of my paddling, visit www.PaddleMonster.com and sign up for online SUP training.
For more technique, training, paddling, and fitness tips, you can follow along @seychellesup and @appworldtour on Instagram.