Sup Tips from Speedboard USA team riders
Sometimes you have to slow down in order to speed up. For the past year I have been recovering from a major shoulder SLAP tear. Dealing with an injury is so frustrating! I was forced to slow down. Now I am back on the water and striving to speed up. My goal is to be a lean and strong paddler (with smooth technique), and regain the form that I possessed during the summer of 2011. I have had to accept that I am essentially starting over. My shoulder has healed and I have almost full range of motion, but I still lack the confidence to extend my reach as much as I do on the other side. Currently I am training and coaching. Coaching often allows me to slow down and work on “things” with my clients. I often find that what helps others also helps me. In the end we both speed up.
A few days ago I was tuning up a client who was having a hard time extending forward at the catch and keeping his paddle vertical through the stroke. Both extension at the catch and maintaining a vertical paddle shaft are really important because they allow for optimum power transfer and efficiency. The board tracks straighter, you conserve energy, and you go faster! As a coach you have to devise drills/progressions that break down the stroke and isolate the movements.
I challenged him to slow his stroke down and paddle one stroke per side without missing a beat – hitting the rail or shortening his stroke (paddlers often recover their stroke too far behind their feet. The paddle is less efficient and it is largely wasted energy to let it drag too far). It was really hard! He thought what I was asking him to do was lame until he realized how humbling it was. It worked though. After spending 15-minutes verbally impelling him from my board, “One..switch…..two..switch…..three.. switch….”, He acknowledged that it was one of the hardest drills he had ever done. More importantly, I witnessed improvements with extension, length of stroke, and his ability to keep the paddle vertical.
Later when no one was around I used the drill on myself. I was able to change hands and keep time and position well but it certainly exposed the discrepancy in my reach between my left and right sides (my good and not so good shoulder) in a way that I had not recognized as being that significant before.
So… Here are my tips:
1) If you haven’t already put a sticker or a visual marker towards the nose of your board as your goal entry point for your catch – Do It! If you are not using a marker yet, the next time you get on your board figure out your maximum reach and then put your marker an inch closer to the nose, believe me, you will get there.
2) Next pay attention to your catch. When your paddle enters the water, can you see through the window? The triangular window between your top arm, the paddle and the imaginary line connecting the two from where your lower arm is on the shaft. See it? See through it without obstruction? Good! Your paddle is vertical. The top hand should be directly above the bottom hand.
3) Now, find a rhythm. Initially switch hands on the third or fifth stroke rather than after every stroke. The idea is not to rush and do this quickly. Do it properly, efficiently and with power. See if you are balanced side to side. Hit your extension catch goal, without a splash (clean catch), and get your paddle back out and returned to a catch position on either the same side or the offside (the offside is the side that you are not paddling on) with the same efficiency and power. If you can accomplish all of this without missing a beat then you are well on your way to an awesome stroke. If you feel a weakness somewhere along the way, slow it all down and work to smooth it out. Once everything is flowing – speed it up.
It is always valuable to work on technique. It is tempting to always hammer away, but we get better and faster by developing our skills as well as our fitness. My shoulder injury forced me to slow down and now I am taking a more prescribed approach with both my clients and myself. So remember! Slow down to go fast, extend at the catch, keep the paddle vertical, and have fun!
Kathy Summers is an accomplished SUP athlete and coach. Based in the DC area she is the owner of Stand Up Paddle DC LLC., Director of the Mid Atlantic SUP Racing Association (MASRA), Washington Canoe Club BOD, Host DC Paddle for Humanity, ULI Board (Ultimate Lightweight Inflatable) rider and representative, and a Speedboard USA team rider.
About Speedboard USA
Speedboard USA is a stand-up paddle (SUP) board company designing and building innovative boards for the performance paddler. Each Speedboard is specifically designed to promote paddling efficiency, enabling elite racers, avid paddlers and SUP enthusiasts to move through the water faster, with less effort.
The 2013 board line-up has been designed to bring the all out speed you expect from Speedboard USA designs and some additional ”tweeks” to make them perform better. All of the boards feature a slightly raised foredeck to create a sharper “spill angle” for waves, low wind signature and greater rigidity. Enhanced rail thickness at the shoulder and our “wishbone” deck shape further add to the stiff flex profile of these boards. Stiffer is faster.
Our 2013 lineup includes the R55 e Unlimited Marathon Machine, 3-different 14′s, and a 12’6″. All of these boards offer the ultimate glide and are suitable for anyone who desires performance, quality, and a made in the USA product!
If you are interested in more information then please contact us: