You love kayaking and you want to get better in skill and mindset, but you’re not sure where to start?
Or maybe you get out with your buddies as much as you can, but you feel stuck in a rut when it comes to making certain moves.
If you’re looking for strategies for becoming a competent paddler, I can help!
To experience joy and confidence in your paddling you want to focus the following 3 important areas.
1. Paddling skills
Foundational paddling skills you want to focus on are posture, core, angle, edge and vision.
Your posture is the foundation your connectivity to your boat, your range of motion for both core engagement and edge control, and sets the tone for your ability to stay balanced.
Powering your boat by transferring energy from your core, both to your blade and to your boat is key. Use the big muscles of your torso, and don’t rely only on your arms. Your shoulders and your confidence will thank you.
Where you point your boat matters. Learn to point your boat in a direction, not only going with the current, but going across current, and maintain your boat angle to get where you want to go. So many moves including eddy turns, ferries, peel outs, boofs, trying to catch a wave are foiled due to lack of ability to maintain your boat angle. Tip: Use stern draws!
Learning how to use your edges to carve, change direction and stabilize will definitely help you become a better paddler. Tip: Practice holding an edge, paddling on edge and doing power circles in flatwater to improve your edge control.
Look where you want to go. When you take your eyes off your destination you’ll struggle to get there. What’s challenging in whitewater is that there can be so many distractions in front of you to look at. It takes practice and courage to look where you want to go.
One of my favorite drills is to do a ferry with my eyes closed. When you do a ferry with your eyes closed you have to feel the water and how it is affecting your boat. If you feel the boat pushing your bow downstream you know to take a stern draw on your downstream side to correct. When you feel yourself gliding effortlessly across the current you know to pause and let the water to the work. It’s very freeing.
When your eyes are open you may actually see things that trigger fear and cause you to take a stroke that you don’t need. Or, when you’re learning to read water you may not recognize a current that will change your angle – you’ll feel it first.
Stop intellectualizing reading the water and start feeling what the water is actually doing to your boat and how you can work with it to get where you want to go. This is how you start to cultivate a relationship with the water that enhances your skill and your experience.
3. Mental Agility
Building confidence in your boat requires practices in mental agility. To be agile is to be able to move quickly and easily. Just like we need to be able to move our bodies for paddling, we also need to be able to move our minds.
When you’re stuck in certain belief, habit or self-talk patterns your mind isn’t able to adjust quickly and easily to what’s happening. Practices like gratitude, separating fact vs story, trying on new contexts for how you look at a rapid, a move or even someone in your group, strengthen you mental agility.
Tip: A good question to ask yourself to start building mental agility is: “What is the story I’m telling myself about… what’s happening, this rapid, this move, my swim, that person etc…?” Start to consider that the story you’re telling yourself isn’t THE truth. What opens up for you then?
So now you have some insights on how to become a good kayaker. The key is to take these concepts and practice hard moves in easy water. Start in environments with low consequence and build up from there. Get out there and have fun!
Want to learn more about how to build your paddling skill set? Register for my free webinar coming up on Thursday December 15th at 7 p.m. ET. We’ll get into these concepts and give you more insight on becoming the best paddler you can be! Click here to register.