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Self-Aggrandizing jackass
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This will rank as one of the most basic questions (i.e. dumbest) I’m going to have to ask:

How do you use your torso/abs to paddle? Do I need to lean forward and pull back with my body (with a little left and right lean in there)? That’s what I conceive when I read to “paddle with your torso” but I wonder if having your body moving around makes you less stable (at least at my skill level) and more prone to flips.

I’m a new boater and I’m already having a shoulder problem, so I want to keep practicing correct paddle strokes.
Sorry to take your time on such a basic thing.

I really have a hard time keeping my boat from veering, and I need to learn an aggressive paddle stroke, but my bad habits get in the way (and now the tenderness in the shoulder is).
 

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A good way to check your grip is to hold your paddle shaft so it sort of balances on the top of your head (hard to describe w/o demonstration!). Your elbows/ arms should be making right angles. This is the "paddlers box" and is maintained with all strokes.
A forward stroke should begin at the bow by your feet (again weird to describe and not demo :wink: ). A proper forward stroke while maintaining the "box" has to employ the torso.
 

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Self-Aggrandizing jackass
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So it sounds to me that if I focus on maintining my elbows at 90 degrees while I paddle, I'm going to be able to feel how the torso works the motion, not the shoulders.

Is that the focus I should practice for correct stroke?
 

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you might not "feel" the torso unless you put in a long day or paddle upstream a bunch :)
There are probably instructional videos out there that would help to demonstrate (??)
 

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think of pulling the start cord of a lawn mower that doesn't want to start.....if you just use your arm muscles, you'll be tired pretty quick....but if you pull with the whole torso using your back and stomach muscles you can pull all day. Now, apply that theory to when you paddle....don't pull the paddle with your arm muscles, but use your entire torso.

It's kinda hard to explain so bear with me......as you begin the forward stroke, you turn at your midsection to move your right arm forward and place the blade in the water near your feet. Now untwist your midsection to pull that blade back to just past midway of the cockpit area, which in turn twist your body the other way for the next strock on the left. Repeat. Also, your head should not be twisting with your body and your eyes looking forward the whole time.

Now...you'll need to stop that boat from swerving around by using those abs (stomach) muscles down thru your lower body. This seems to be the most difficult for the beginners but comes with time in the boat.

Happy strokes!


tommy
 

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Self-Aggrandizing jackass
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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you folks.

I have been so impressed by the supportiveness and kindness of the kayaking community.
I've met a lot of positive people in the outdoor sports, but kayakers have been well above the average.
 

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Back in my instruction days I use to emphasize the stern draw as on of the most important of paddle strokes to learn. This is the second half of the sweep stroke and essentially starts from 90 degrees from your boat and sweeps to the back of the boat, almost to the point were it actually touches your boat. This stroke can't be done correctly without rotating the torso. As you sweep, think of your torso following the blade around. To help you with this motion, watch the paddle blade as you sweep. This will force your torso to rotate (for practice). Now try the incorrect way by bending your arms and keeping your torso completely stationary. Try paddling in a straight line, let the boat veer, and then try to correct with both the correct and incorrect methods. You should feel the difference. Once you get the stern draw down you can start mutating the motion into your forward stroke. The stern draw should start becoming less of a defined stroke and more of a part of your forward stoke sequence to the point were you start to just add a little stern draw at the end of the forward strokes when a little extra umpf is needed.

Also, I feel that a little lean on each stoke is good. I like to gently rock back and forth from one stoke to the next. The end of on stoke pushes your weight over to dig into the next stroke. Note: this doesn't work if you take multiple stokes on the same side; therefore, I have always considered that to be less than perfect technique.

It is so good to hear a beginner asking about good technique rather than trying to figure out how to do flatwater loops before they can paddle in a straight line. Props. It seems like now-a-days flatwater freestyle moves are so popular because a lot of people can’t do a simple ferry to get into the hole.
 

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Get a video. EJ's are really good.
 

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Dane,

I'm a believer in EJ's paddling instruction techniques. Given your level of effort and interest to progress rapidly with good technique, I think you would benefit from 2 videos in particular.

1. EJ's Strokes and Concepts
2. EJ's Rolling and Bracing - I think you'll see some familiar concepts in this one.

The first will address your questions on stroke effectiveness and torso rotation as well as a number of other techniques you likely haven't thought of yet. Feel free to give me a shout with any questions.

Mike
 
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A technique I have been using for a few years that I borrowed from Kent Ford to exaggerate the torso rotation on the forward stroke is to practice paddling forward with your arms completely straight, with no bend in your elbows. This will no doubt feel odd, but the over-exaggeration will do you well. If you look down and can see your pfd rotating, you will know that you are rotating from the hips (which is good).

On the turning strokes (bow sweep, stern draw, etc.), I've found that looking at the stern of your boat when your torso is rotated at the beginning or end of the stroke helps to ensure you get that rotation.

Hope that helps!
 
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