Here are 10 easy ways to improve you paddling
1.Paddle with people who have more experience than you and ask questions. Most good paddlers learned from people who are good teachers and enjoy passing along information. I still try to surround myself with people who have different skill sets and try to lean from them and ask about their thought process.
2.Enjoy the process, you have to accept that your not going to nail a tricky late boof on your first try or even hit an offside roll right away. Try it, analyze it, watch someone else do it, try it again and again, and then STICK IT.
3. Video Review. Back in the day, before the iPhone, my slalom coach would bring a camcorder down to the river, video different moves or strokes we were working on and then later we would upload the footage, review it, and the discuss how to improve. Now a days it’s way easier thanks to the iPhone and GoPro. Record your session and watch it, be critical of yourself and your friends. One thing to remember is third person perspective and input is more valuable then POV. Its hard to tell what your boat and body are doing from GoPro footage.
4.Take it back to the basics, get out on a river you are confident on and work on catching tricky eddies, making ferries, and doing attainments. It’s more beneficial then pushing your limits on hard moves. Do the easy things perfectly then the hard moves will be easier.
5. Flat water! Paddling flat water is one of the most simple ways to fine tune your paddling. Focus on keeping a calm and stable boat, getting as much glide per stroke as possible, body position, and stroke position (take note of where your hands are, and even grip with the right length between your hands is key). Get someone to video you paddling straight in flat water from a few angles and then watch yourself paddle. This will give you a good idea of what you need to work on. Pay attention to if your slouching or if your boat is rocking back and fourth, or if your stroke is not vertical.
6. Staying current, spend as much time in your kayak as possible! It’s important to be as comfortable as you can be in your boat. The obvious way to do so is by spending time in it. So try to go kayaking as much as you can. If you can only get to the river on the weekends, see if there is a nearby lake that you can go paddle after work. Pool sessions are also a good alternative.
7. Fitness and strength, this is HUGE! Whitewater kayaking is all about strength to weight. Getting on a fitness regimen and setting goals for improving strength and endurance is probably the single most important thing you can do if your someone who wants to improve. Running, biking, swimming (if you have bad knees or are nursing an injury) pull-ups, push-ups, core training, and balance are all key things to add to your routine. No excuse not to do this stuff. 20-30 min a day is nothing and you can do this stuff in your house, in a park or at the takeout.
8. Stretching, about as instrumental as fitness and strength. Target your hip-flexors, low back, and shoulders.
9. Rest and recovery. Without this all of the above is pointless. You have to give your body and mind ample time to recover. Avoid burning out and injuries. I think as kayakers our sport is so fun and addicting that it’s hard to take a break, but in the long run, doing so will allow time for your body to recover (kayaking is hard on a body) and will allow your stoke to get back on the water to build. Stoke will improve your kayaking. Which leads me to the last thing to work on…..
10.Have fun with it! If your not having fun, what’s the point?
I hope these tips help improve your kayaking and shed some light on simple ways to do so.