In order to become a good paddleboarder you need to develop good paddling skills. Most of your progression in paddleboarding will be a result of learning proper stroke technique. Paddling technique includes the three phases of the stroke- the catch, power phase, and the release and recovery. Today we’ll look at the release and recovery phase of the paddleboard stroke.
The release is the point in the stroke when you stop pulling and release the water from your paddle blade at the end of your forward stroke. The release should take place even with your feet, not past them. Applying force to your blade behind your feet creates drag and slows you down- effectively cancelling out some of the effort you originally put into the stroke.
There are two ways to release your paddle, feathering and pulling the blade straight up out of the water.
Feathering: Feathering is when you rotate your blade so that it is parallel to your paddleboard and then lift it out of the water. To feather your paddle rotate the blade by turning the wrist on your upper hand towards your board. If you’re paddling on the left side of you board, flick your top wrist to the right. If you’re paddling on the right side of your board, flick your top wrist to the left. Your blade will come out of the water much easier when you feather it. Think about twisting the lid off of a jar, all it takes is a quarter turn.
It should feel like you are releasing pressure from the blade and you will hear it make popping sound as it comes water. Don’t grasp the paddle tight! Keep your grip loose and it will be much easier to feather.
You can also pull the paddle straight up out of the water, but it will put a little more strain on your shoulders.
The recovery phase is the part of the stroke between the release and the next catch.
To the recovery begins by releasing the blade at your feet and not behind your feet. You don’t want to drop your top hand too much on the recovery, that wastes energy. The recovery should be a compact motion that sees your blade barely above the surface of the water. Your top hand should remain in your field of vision through this phase. If you are dropping your top hand too much on the recovery, a simple drill to work on is lightly skimming the surface of the water on the way back to the catch. By keeping your paddle close to the surface, the motion stays small and focused.
At this point your arms should be stretched out straight, as you reach forward towards the nose of the paddleboard. To get that extra reach you need, bend forward at the hips while slightly bending your knees. You should feel your weight shift onto the front part of your feet. Now you are ready for the catch phase!
As your blade nears the surface, use your forward leaning momentum to push it all the way down into the water. Make sure that it is completely submerged up to the shaft before you start to pull back. Stay tuned for next post when we will cover in detail the catch phase of the forward stroke.
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