Flatwater Trick Progression / Squirt Boating
“Bow down stall with the boat near vertical”
From an upright neutral boat position, push down with your heels and reach out over the bow with your paddle. As the bow sinks, keep your torso parallel to the surface and the paddle on top of the water. From this position you should be able to keep the boat near vertical for as long as desired.
Bow Screw (Left)
“Slow spin into the vertical plane with the bow down”
From an upright neutral boat position, push down with your left heel and reach with the right paddle blade to the water on the center of your bow. The boat should begin to spin and the bow sinks as you take short sweep strokes with the right paddle blade. Keeping the left edge engaged is key to a smooth bow screw. If you are in a low volume squirtboat then this move is possible to do with no paddle strokes, a “clean bow screw.” To finish, you can stall the spin and perform a bow stall or spin to over vertical until you are upside down then pirouette up.
“A 180-deg turn on the stern in the vertical plane”
From an upright neutral boat position, push with your left knee to put the boat on edge. Reach your left paddle blade all the way back to the stern of the boatand look over your left shoulder at the paddle blade. Start the left sweep stroke while letting the right edge of the stern sink underwater. Once the left paddle blade breaks the surface, take a right forward stroke to finish the trick. Try to keep the same angle on your stern edge throughout the trick.
Low to Mid Cartwheel (Left)
“A 360-deg spin in the vertical plane”
To initiate a cartwheel starting with the bow, push down with your left heel, keeping your body perpendicular to the boat. Reach out with the right paddle blade, placing the blade away from you across the bow of the boat. Once the bow has sunk to an angle between 30 to 70 degrees, look over your left shoulder and using the paddle as a pivot point, twist the stern into the water maintaining the angle. As the stern sinks and the bow rises, your body will be back in a neutral position in the center of the elevated boat. Pull the right blade out and sink the left blade deep into the water next to you. Twist your torso towards the left paddle blade, always leading with your head and sinking the bow back under to finish at the same angle. Learning to maintain a consistent angle during cartwheels is one of the best ways to develop excellent edge control.
Clean Bow Screw (Left)
“A slow spin into the vertical plane on the bow without the use of a paddle”
The technique is the same as the bow screw but requires greater edge control and balance without the paddle for support. Push down with the left foot, twist your shoulders slightly to the left, think about pushing your left foot down with your right shoulder. As the bow starts to drop, the boat will spin to the left and you have to gradually increase the tilt (or angle) to keep the bow sinking deeper. Adjusting this angle is difficult without touching the paddle blade and will result in spectacular flops during practice. The move is complete when the boat is vertical but can be continued past vertical ending in a pirouette just before the boat is upside down.
“Super fast (flashy) backdeck roll without getting your face wet.”
A washout can be done anytime off of a shallow bow maneuver, such as a cartwheel or screw. To practice, start with low angle cartwheels 30 to 45 degree. With the stern in the water, slam the bow around extra hard, and instead of maintaining your angle on the left blade, throw yourself onto the back deck as the bow sinks in. Your right paddle blade should whip around under the boat and finish just like a back deck roll. Your face shouldn’t get wet. The harder you throw the bow end, the more explosive the washout will be.
Stern Screw (Left)
“An over vertical stern squirt that ends upright”
Starts just like the stern squirt except you have to give much more edge as you initiate the move. Look back at your left blade as you initiate the sweep and lift your left knee. Quickly give more edge so that once the bow is 30 to 40 degrees above the water, you are upside down. Your left blade will clear the water, and instead of taking a stroke with the right, let it slide across the surface as you keep giving more edge angle. As the bow comes back down finish upright using the left paddle blade to finish. This will essentially be a roll with your bow out of the water. This move takes practice to learn edge control while inverted on the stern but is very practical while running big whitewater.
“Stern down stall with the boat near vertical”
This move can be started from a stern squirt or cartwheel. Once the stern is under and the boat approaches vertical, you must stop the boats momentum using a brace with the paddle blade. By pulling or pushing with your abs to maintain a forward/backward angle and with your paddle blades to keep the boat vertical. With practice the stern stall can be a fun trick to use downriver.
Clean low to mid Cartwheels
“A 360-deg spin in the vertical plane without the use of a paddle or hands”
A clean cartwheel is completed with the exact same movements as a regular cartwheel but requires precise edge control and good core muscle rotation. We are taking the training wheels (paddle) off. Start on the stern end with the paddle held at shoulder level with arms mostly extended. Slowly twist to the left and look over your shoulder while dropping your right hip; pull the bow up and around with your torso. Don’t try and get too vertical for now, 25 to 45 degrees is fine. Pause at the top, rotate your torso again (staying in the center of the boat) driving the bow down without touching your paddle blades. This is the hardest part, the boat will want to twist into a pirouette if you lose control of your edges. Slowly increase the verticality of your ends, work on keeping your stern and bow ends at the same level during your clean cartwheels.
Stern Stall to Bow Stall
“Vertical stern stall into a vertical bow stall”
Most competitions require at least 3 seconds of pause for a stall to be scored, but a good stall can be held all day with little effort. Once you have established a stern stall, which will have to be vertical for you to hold it, a cartwheel type end transition will be used to get to a bow stall. From the stern stall, going left, engage the back face of your left paddle blade. Look to the left while twisting your torso 180-deg so that you are parallel facing the water; the bow will follow your torso around into the vertical bow position. Once there, stop your momentum and establish a bow stall. This move can be done in many different combinations but the ability to control a stall on both ends is essential to your progression in squirting.
“A vertical 360-deg spin that can be reversed 180-deg (left to right cartwheel) on a bow or stern end”
Once your cartwheels have reached vertical (90-deg) you will notice that it is easy to stall your stern and bow ends. To split a cartwheel on the bow or stern, stall your cartwheel (left), then, using a open paddle face, engage the right blade. Twist the boat in the horizontal plane 180-deg using the right paddle blade as a fulcrum point. Once you have changed from the left cartwheel position to a right position, use that right blade to sink the stern and continue to cartwheel in the same direction but now on the right side. Try and keep your paddle blade in the water during the entire split into cartwheel. This helps with edge control and will facilitate harder tricks as you progress.
“Stern screw that is initiated with a short forward stroke”
This trick is the same as a stern screw except it is initiated with a forward stroke instead of a reverse sweep. The idea is to get your torso ready to sink the stern and pirouette back upright, then match the rotation with a short forward stroke on the inside of the rotation. Most of the work in this trick is done by your torso rotation. The paddle stroke should help you get the bow out of the water by about 45 deg, then take the blade out of the water as you slide around under your boat (just like in the stern screw). The one-armed bandit is a great way to start a combo since it is started from sitting flat.
“To go from upside down to bow stall in one move”
The party trick is a cool move that will really impress spectators. Start by flipping over and hanging out with your head against your stern deck. Your paddle should be near the surface of the water just above your head. Pull the bow down with your feet while twisting with your torso just enough to rotate the bow onto its edge so that it slices into the bow stall. Think about initiating a cartwheel in Tupperware; you are doing the same thing while upside down and without looking like drunk duck. When done correctly the party trick is just one quick movement that takes your boat from upside down to a bow stall.
Over Vertical Cartwheel
“Slow and smooth cartwheels with each end over 90 deg”
Most squirtboaters like to start with a series of cartwheels that gradually get a higher angle and then go past vertical for a few ends. Start with a few cartwheels, then from the bow position give the stern end extra edge so that it swings over vertical. As the bow end sinks, keep your head in the water so the end stays over vertical. We talked about finding the neutral position earlier; that position will be leaning fairly far forward during over vertical cartwheels (otherwise your head will be underwater the entire time). Tip: breath on the stern ends (bow up).
Whirly-gig / Screwing Around
“Bow screw to stern screw combo”
The whirly-gig is completely unique to squirtboating and a must for every squirtboater to learn. Start with a bow screw, and as the stern passes over your head, engage the leading paddle blade. Then, using your torso, twist into a stern screw. As the bow passes over your head, engage the leading blade and twist into a bow screw. A full whirly-gig is actually two of these combos combined. On paper this sounds super complicated, but in practice you will find that it is a natural movement in a squirtboat that even beginners can master. Note: for some reason, most squirtboaters have a dominate direction with the whirly-gig and have a really hard time going switch.
“Stern to bow cartwheel off a single open face paddle stroke”
This move starts with an open face paddle stroke, which means that you use the power face of the paddle. Start with a stern squirt, but as you reach back for the sweep use an open face paddle. To do this, tilt the wrist back and extend the arm while twisting your shoulders way back. Make sure you engage the stern edge at the same time you start this stroke or you may hurt your shoulder. As you sink the stern, keep the paddle engaged and throw the bow down in a continuous motion. The paddle blade must stay in the water throughout the entire cartwheel for it to be a jedi wheel.
“Cartwheel using a single paddle blade with hand switches on every end”
Just like the jedi wheel used one paddle blade to get two ends, the switch wheel uses that same blade for multiple ends. Start a cartwheel and from the bow position engage the paddle blade to transition to the stern. Stall momentarily on the stern as you “switch” your hands back to the regular position while keeping the same blade in the water. Do the same on the bow, then keep going. As your switches get cleaner, you can go faster, but make sure that you never take the paddle blade out of the water (that is a break in form).
Super Clean Cartwheels
“Multiple clean near vertical ends”
While clean cartwheels allow you to have one end that is 45 deg, super cleans must be near vertical with zero paddle touches. Doing cleans takes some practice and is easier in shorter, higher volume squirts. That said, with enough practice anyone can do them in any boat. Tip: just a lot of practice, it is also very good for the abs.