White water tips ‘n’ tricks #1
The first in a series of articles to fine tune your white water skills…
What is the “tips ‘n’ tricks” series all about?
Recently, I’ve found myself fielding some awkward questions whilst coaching. The trouble is, the more you paddle, the more autonomous your actions become and the harder it can be to explain what it is that you actually do. Over the next few weeks I’ll be going back to basics, picking apart my own skills to give you some concepts that have really worked well for me.
Look where you’re going. More specifically, look where you’re about to be going. Quite often this is referred to as looking for “future water” When you drive a car, you don’t fixate on the bonnet – instead, you look ahead to the area you’re about to move through. The same is true in a kayak – you shouldn’t need to stare at your bow, as the feeling of the water through your paddle and hips, should give you enough feedback.
Looking where you want to go will also help engage the core muscles, making the boat turn easier. What really works for me is the idea of “looking with my chest”. I don’t just turn my head, I rotate my body to face in to the turn as well.
Next time you’re in your boat on flat water, give this a try. Start with your boat flat, looking straight ahead. Now, turn your head and torso to face to the right. Notice anything? What should happen is that your left knee will rise slightly, as you turn turn your torso, edging your boat to the right.
Often this slight edging is enough when breaking in/out. Forget “showing your bottom to the flow” or “lifting your knee” to engage the edge. Look with your chest and it should happen naturally and far more comfortably.
Give it a go!