Wednesday June 29th 2016
We’ve looked at the mechanics of a good stroke, but the way you position your body has a huge effect on how well you can transfer power from your body to the boat. We’ll start at the bottom:
Feet - If balance is good in the boat, having your feet in the middle and pointed up (not angled out) gives you the best reach as your knees don’t impede your forward extension. This is necessary in the bow anyway, where you often have to stack your feet in order to fit into the boat. In the stern try putting your feet in the middle like this. When you need maximum control of the boat (such as when leaning aggressively) you may need to add more contact points with it by bracing one or both legs against the sides.
Legs – Your legs should be extended in front of you with your thighs almost parallel to the gunwales. Normally your knees will be a little higher than your pelvis. This is quite subjective so find the extension that is most comfortable and gives you the best leverage.
Pelvis – Very important! Think of your pelvic girdle as a bowl full of water. You want to position your “bowl” as if you are gently pouring the water out in front of you. The natural tendency is to angle your pelvis too far back, holding all the water in your “bowl”. You lose a large amount of reach sitting like this and it promotes arm paddling as opposed to using your core muscles.
Torso – Positioning your pelvis correctly will get your torso in the proper position. In your profile you should have a forward lean from the hips. Keep your back straight, however - don’t hunch to get that lean. You’ll know you’ve got a good forward stance if your runny nose were to drip onto your knees.
Arms –Your arms should stay out in front and your upper hand should circle in front of your face during your stroke without dipping too far down (this means you’re driving your stroke too much). Your lower arm should never collapse too close to your body. Think of maintaining the “paddler’s box”: the rectangle created by your arms, the paddle, and your chest.
Your arms should not have too much extra movement during your stroke. If you cock your wrist or elbow when you take the paddle out of the water, for example, you may get tendonitis issues.
Common bad habits