Some tips from a
surfer/swimmer on getting prone paddling technique better. These will
help to maintain an efficient paddle and prevent the waste of energy.
Typically, when we
get tired, we get lazy, and our technique deteriorates, making us more
tired, and soon we cannot paddle any more. Focus on technique particularly
during those long paddles back after a great wave.
Lots of paddling can
also damage your shoulders, but there are some easy exercises for
treatment and prevention of shoulder tendonitis.
- Make sure you're positioned on the
board correctly... your hand should enter just about at the nose
(on a typical shortboard). This is important to prevent the nose
of the board from tipping up too high, which forces you to plow
through the water rather than skim along the surface.
Being too far forward will tend to bury the nose and
force you to arch your back excessively, which can lead to back
problems. So find the balance.
- Hand entry should be flat and nearly
at the limit of full extension. Don't slice your hand in sideways.
Instead, arch the elbow on the arm recovery and bring it in with
fingertips pointing forward and slicing under the water.
- The ideal paddle stroke is as close
as you can get to a freestyle/crawl swimming stroke. Your hands
should ascribe an 'S' motion, with the outside of the 'S' shape
coming at the start of the stroke, accelerating under the board
through to the finish. Longboards will be different, given the
board thickness and width. The main thing is to concentrate your
power as close to the midline of your body as you can.
- Finish all the way to your legs. A
good way to ensure you are doing this is to try touching your
thumbs at your thighs or the side of the board on every stroke,
right before the recovery (arms out and over the water).
- Don't throw water behind you at the
finish, that's just wasted effort. Concentrate on power
through the stroke in the region from shoulder to waist.
- Keep your hands flat and fingers
together, but don't overexert trying to hold them together.
- Keep your hands pointed as a natural
extension to your forearm; try to minimize any bending at the
wrist... this will improve your power.
- For long paddles, keep your head and
neck down... conserve your energy and prevent injury from craning
- Keep your feet together, use them
for balance in long paddles, and kick like a wild man when going
after that wave.
- Practice, practice, practice. Try
surfing point breaks with super long rides, paddle back way on the
outside and try to keep up with the longboarders as they paddle
back. If you can't get into the ocean, find a pool and work on
your freestyle stroke. Using hand paddles and pull buoys provides
an excellent approximation to the exertion of paddling your board.
- When paddling for a wave, you will
naturally need to get a faster turnover than you will when
paddling back from a wave. However, you should always keep strong
hands and powerful technique. Don't let your hands slip, keep them
strong against the water, and stroke hard. Don't flail.