Paddle Better: Develop Good Habits

Summertime is creeping around the corner and everyone’s itching to get back on the lakes, rivers, bays, and oceans. Hopefully, you’ve been active in the winter doing other sports, or you've kept up with your paddling this spring, or maybe got into some virtual yoga classes. But just in case you’ve been a little dormant (admittedly, some of us at Hala Gear have), Mike Wang has put together some basic drills and techniques for you to get back on the water safely!

I practice land warm up, paddle warm-up. and cool down religiously because I paddle around 20 miles each week. Even if you don’t, it’s really important that you do some kind of warm-up and cool down for your paddles, just like any other sport. It will help prevent back, hip, and shoulder injuries in the long term. I am a PaddleFit Pro Coach – a wonderful organization that certifies coaches by teaching them the right training methods and techniques for fitness training on your board and on land. 

Land Warm Up (5 minutes)

  1. Forward and backward lunges with a twist (10 forward/10 backward): make sure you’re stable and try to press your big toes into the ground so you’re using some of that inside thigh muscle.
  2. Arm circles (20 forward/20 reverse): forward circles palms down, reverse circles palms up.
  3. On/off the horse (10 on/off on each side): use a paddle to stabilize if you need to, try not to swing too wide.

Paddle Warm Up (10 minutes)

  1. Forward stroke drill: Your most used stroke needs some warming up! Practice this stroke in calm water so that you can remember what you learned in your last lesson. 5 strokes on each side (intermediate 15, advanced 25): make sure to reach and take the paddle out at your toes. Switch side every stroke Ever have problems switching sides? This drill will help.
  2. Turning stroke drill: Practice either reverse turn/sweep. 5 in a row on each side.
  3. Backward stroke drill: Try this one for funsies! Going backwards is harder because it utilizes muscles that you don’t use normally. Stand normally (more challenging)or turn yourself around so you’re facing the fin (less challenging). Do this drill to balance your muscles for injury prevention.
          1. Pivot Turn:
          • Let’s get wet so that you lose the fear of falling in! I recommend you try the pivot turn as soon as you can to work on balance for rough water.
          • Get in surf stance
          • Use the shuffle method to get to the back of the board (or if on a shorter board, just step back)
          • Put most of the weight on the back leg to sink the tail and shift the weight to the front leg to lift the tail. *Very important to practice to get familiar with where the balance point is for pivot turns
          2. Forward sweep:
          • Make your paddles horizontal along the water to get the most out of your sweep
          • When you bring your paddle back to start another one make sure you skim the paddle on top of the water to brace.

              Cool Down: 

              Remember to hold for 30 seconds in each stretch on each side

              • Paddle Stretch 
                • Back: hold on to the paddle in a vertical position and hinge at the hips while leaning on the paddle to stretch your back. You can travel along the shaft lower to stretch your lower back.
                • Glutes: Hold on to the paddle vertically. Put your right foot over the left knee and sit down and back. Then do the opposite side.
              • Runner Stretch  Your basic downward dog, stretch those tight hamstrings!
              • Shoulders Stretch – Find a wall and put your right hand on the wall at shoulder height.  Stretch the chest and shoulder muscles by turning your body so your shoulder is perpendicular to the wall. Switch sides.
              The Lineup

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