Teaching how to brace more effectively - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 12-09-2015   #1
 
San Jose, CA, California
Paddling Since: 1998
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Teaching how to brace more effectively

Hi all,

I have taught a few friends over the years to kayak and the last two folks I have taught have learn to roll well. They then move to class II / III on the south fork of the american river. With year around Saturday flows is a closest resource for learning and it is great.

That is where they start to slow in one specific skill, bracing.

I try to chunk it down with repetition of basic skills:
1. pool practice
2. simple eddy catching
3. ferrying
4. actively leaning down stream
5. encouraging the paddler to actively lean and edge down stream

Nonetheless, they keep tensing up and missing brace's on eddy lines, in smaller lateral waves, and after hitting rocks in the shallows above rapids.

There has got to be a better way to teach bracing? How can I improve my instruction?

Thanks,

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Old 12-09-2015   #2
 
Durango, Colorado
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Since its winter, at the pool, I would suggest practicing balancing as far on an edge as you can without tipping over. Balance is more important than the paddle as far as not flipping. Plus you can practice your brace when you lean too far and start to fall over.
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Old 12-09-2015   #3
 
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Sacramento, California
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For me, it just took time, but it also required me to do practice braces at the start of any run. It has to be in my mind recently if you are to do it when it matters.

It's also important that those practice braces are not half ass ones. Get your head in the water when practicing them. It not only is good practice, but gives you a great deal of confidence to know just how far you can be over and still brace.
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Old 12-09-2015   #4
 
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Take a look at EJ's rolling and bracing video. Great instructions, drills, and instructions for teaching.
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Old 12-09-2015   #5
 
OTR, Colorado
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Practice holding balance on an edge is a great way to improve fine muscle control and improve bracing. Throw in a simple step towards learning a cartwheel (without even mentioning cartwheeling, to keep it simple). While on edge, practice bouncing the bow and stern out of the water. Beginners will usually try to do it all with muscle... and eventually learn to bounce of the buoyancy of the boat. This can make things a little more interesting and is great practice for balance and edge control.
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Old 12-09-2015   #6
 
Steamboat, Colorado
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That's interesting... I learned my brace first, and it is super reliable, but I struggle with rolling... Guess I pretty much just practiced bracing side to side, back and forth, back and forth, until I had a good brace. It's hard to train your body to stay low, teach your head to smack the water and come up last... it's very counter-intuitive.
I agree on EJ's Rolling and Bracing video though, it does have some great drills to practice.
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Old 12-09-2015   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SKeen View Post
Practice holding balance on an edge is a great way to improve fine muscle control and improve bracing. Throw in a simple step towards learning a cartwheel (without even mentioning cartwheeling, to keep it simple). While on edge, practice bouncing the bow and stern out of the water. Beginners will usually try to do it all with muscle... and eventually learn to bounce of the buoyancy of the boat. This can make things a little more interesting and is great practice for balance and edge control.
I'm not sure that teaches anything related to bracing, but it definitely puts you in position to use your brace when you are failing. In that regard, flat water tricks are great for practicing your brace and roll. When balancing, you do the opposite of what you need to do when you brace or roll, but it definitely gives you a lot of practice to use both in a non threatening environment.
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Old 12-09-2015   #8
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Holding edge balance makes sense to me for training. I think I know why you say it's the opposite - because you're intentionally leaning your edge into the water, instead of flattening it. But effectively, it's simulating what the water does to flip you. A brace is countering the water's forces to flip you using body movement and force from the paddle, which is exactly what you're doing when balancing on an edge.

I think step one though is usually training the mind to counter the tendency to lean your torso away from the direction you're flipping and instead, kick away through your hips while letting the torso fold toward the direction of the flip. Lots of repetitions of that drill will help. In my first pool class I remember holding the side of the pool, leaning way over and practicing the hip snap over and over again, finishing with your head against the proper shoulder.

I always thought not being able to roll was a major inhibitor to learning the brace. Mentally, because they're swimming every time they flip, and physically because the brace and roll are essentially the same thing and you need to be able to spend time putting the boat on edge to learn the balance and movement involved in bracing.
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Old 12-09-2015   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSC View Post
Holding edge balance makes sense to me for training. I think I know why you say it's the opposite - because you're intentionally leaning your edge into the water, instead of flattening it. But effectively, it's simulating what the water does to flip you. A brace is countering the water's forces to flip you using body movement and force from the paddle, which is exactly what you're doing when balancing on an edge.

I think step one though is usually training the mind to counter the tendency to lean your torso away from the direction you're flipping and instead, kick away through your hips while letting the torso fold toward the direction of the flip. Lots of repetitions of that drill will help. In my first pool class I remember holding the side of the pool, leaning way over and practicing the hip snap over and over again, finishing with your head against the proper shoulder.

I always thought not being able to roll was a major inhibitor to learning the brace. Mentally, because they're swimming every time they flip, and physically because the brace and roll are essentially the same thing and you need to be able to spend time putting the boat on edge to learn the balance and movement involved in bracing.
The reason I had said it is the opposite is what you describe in your 2nd paragraph. When balancing on edge, you keep your body weight over the boat, and your body is arched away from the way you are falling or would fall if you lost your balance. While when you brace, you let your body fall towards the water away from the boat as you snap your hips.

But I can see how balancing the boat might give you a better feel of how your hip movements keep you up right and balance the boat.
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Old 12-09-2015   #10
 
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Loveland, Colorado
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I notice no one mentions "skulling" in the pool. This is a more dynamic way to practice edge control. Tip over onto the edge slightly and start the brace. If you hold still, your paddle sinks and you go over. However, if you "skull" your paddle forward and back , you can hold yourself in this upright position for a bit (as long as you want?). Its a dynamic move so you are having to adjust hip position and paddle angle which gives you more of a sense how the two work together. As you get more proficient, push the envelop and see how far you can lean over while skulling to hold your self up and even recover.


You also have to practice rotating your hips AWAY from the paddle/water side. so you rotate your hips way off (Upstream?) as you skull the paddle down.
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