Bad paddaling habit advice - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-21-2019   #1
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 71
Bad paddaling habit advice

I have this bad habit of leaning on my strong side brace as i go down rapids. Iam a class 2/3 kayaker and trying to re learn and get better after a very long lay off. I can roll 99.9% of the time but still feel like i dont really want to. Half the reason i think i favor paddling in a position that makes my brace easily available. Anyone ever do this? Its chicken shit i know but hopefully there comes a day when i can run more technical water and well...floating sideways my not be the best way. Any coaches out there wanna give some paddling 101 tips? Thanks charlie

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Old 06-22-2019   #2
Blade&Shaft's Avatar
Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 305
If your roll is 99.9% solid I'd say you're good to go and should just keep doing what you're doing.
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Old 06-23-2019   #3
Bellingham, Washington
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 165
It's always a bit dicey to seek/give paddling technique advice online since no one can see what's really going on, but I've got a minute so I'll give it a shot...

First, congratulations on developing a solid roll early in your paddling career. Having a reliable roll allows you to run harder lines, which lets you learn to read harder water and develop all of your paddling skills. The only way a great roll can impede your progress is if you let yourself go over too easily instead of learning to brace back up. Since most people take a long time to develop a bombproof roll, this rarely happens but I do know someone who got in the habit of just letting herself get knocked over and then rolling back up. Of course, once you're upside down, you are no longer in control of your boat, so don't roll unless you have to!

Next, there's absolutely nothing wrong with keeping a blade in the water as you enter a rapid and survey the scene and maybe some of us do this instinctively on our strong side. So long as you keep your weight neutral and don't really lean on your paddle (why brace if you don't need to?) then there's no problem at all. I prefer to keep the blade more vertical so I can feel the current working on the face of the paddle. Once I've decided on a course of action, then it turns into a forward stroke or some form of maneuvering stroke to spin the boat in the direction I want to go.

Anyhow, good luck with your progress. Just the fact that you're thinking about what you're doing with your paddle and body in a rapid shows me you're on the right path. Lots of folks just focus on the next wave in front of them without any awareness of what's going on with their body, boat, and blade.
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Old 06-23-2019   #4
Bisters, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 421
Having supportive, comfortable outfitting is really important as you progress. Practice J-Leans on both sides in eddys and flat water. A J Lean is where you keep you upper body and head centered over the boat as you normally would, but lift your knee/butt cheek on one side or the other. As you do this it will help you find your balance point on edge, and force you to practice bracing if you lean too far over. Don't forget to keep your weight forward at the waist. Leaning into the backseat can help you recover your balance but its bad habit get into. Try running easy rapids and paddling while on one edge or another without actually bracing. Leaning onto your weak side edge and getting comfortable there without tipping over will take practice but will definitely improve your control and confidence. Good luck!
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Old 06-23-2019   #5
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 71
Well first i should say -i have only done easy class 3 and ive never even seen a giant sticky hole so my roll is good in EASY water who knows in the hard stuf? So i guess its only good cause it hasnt been tested lol! Iam sure now ill swim since i said i could roll. I watched a video of me paddling a rapid (i look old,slow and pretty stupid) and as i got my line i was paddling aggressively and then when i started getting pushed around i just swung the boat so my right side was down stream and leaned out on that brace and slammed through the gigantic class 3 rapid. Figure now if i need to go left or right cause thers danger i better stop doin that. I feel confident about my roll but i still dont wanna be upside down really. Need to step it up and start paddling a course in rapids i guess? I allways just feel stable leaning that way but that aint allways how its gonna play out . And of course the rivers i do are very forgiving so theres that. I watch these guys doing big ugly stuff and wonder how they can even see where they're going and they do these cool little power stroke brace stroke out in front of their boats. The video of the seriolis(sp) brothers decent of stikine is a great example. Other thing- when i first learned (8 the rule was up stream knee allways held up high. Now it looks like guys are carving with up stream edges of their boats. Is it just boat shapes that let them or am i high?
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Old 06-23-2019   #6
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 105

When you surf a wave, everything speeds up and the forces on your boat increase.
Catch every eddy, left and right.
Side surf friendly holes with no consequences downstream.
All of this will help you brace right and left.
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Old 06-24-2019   #7
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2,634
Force yourself to lean to your off-side in easier Class 2 water. Play in 2 to get comfortable in 3. Then play in 3 until you're comfortable to get ready for 4. (I stopped at 4+. 5 scares me!)

Originally Posted by alanbol View Post
When you surf a wave, everything speeds up and the forces on your boat increase.
Catch every eddy, left and right.
Side surf friendly holes with no consequences downstream.
All of this will help you brace right and left.

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