Nick Carroll On: How To Paddle Stronger And Smarter

28 Jan 2017 19 Share

COASTALWATCH | SURF COACH 

Episode 002 / Series 002
Duration 6:11 

Hosted by Nick Carroll
Additional footage provided by Craig Halstead, Jack Barripp, Mitch Imgraben, Victor Cestari & Cam Sinclair.

In this series, Nick Carroll will walk you through crucial elements that will help you learn how to relax while surfing as well as rid yourself of anxiety-born habits that you adopted when you were learning to surf.

These tips and drills are guaranteed to change how you think about and approach your surfing. These videos are exclusively available for Coastalwatch Plus subscribers only, and there's still a chance for you to win an ALL EXPENCES paid luxury surf trip for you & 3 mates to Indo with Sumatra Charters. Enter Here.

Catch a new episode & drills each week for the next 6 weeks covering these areas;

Episode 1 - Relaxing The Upper Body
Episode 2 - Paddling Faster & Smarter
Episode 3 - Position, Position, Position
Episode 4 - Delaying The Turn
Episode 5 - Weight & Balance
Episode 6 - Six Killer Drills 

Review Series 001 with Matt Grainger 
Episode 1 - Paddling 
Episode 2 - Duck Dives
Episode 3 - Improving Takeoffs
Episode 4 - Generating Speed
Episode 5 - Bottom Turns
Episode 6 - Cutbacks

Paddling Like A Swimmer – Faster & Stronger

DO YOU:

  • Tire quickly while paddling, having to stop sometimes on the way back out after a ride?
  • Seem to be able to paddle pretty quick for short bursts, but then have to pause or slow down (an up-and-down paddling pace)?
  • Regularly miss waves despite scratching after them like a clench-jawed maniac?

Here's a horrible truth. A good swimmer moves through the water faster than 95% of surfers. I have experimented with this, and I am not even a very good swimmer, but just by practicing simple freestyle techniques, I’ll go past a lot of people in any lineup, even people on longboards.

*Almost no good swimmers I’ve met have ever had shoulder surgeries, but my God, it feels as if every third surfer I meet is either on the brink of the Cut or struggling with some version of tendon strain.

This is born directly from upper body tension, good news is it’s totally fixable. Paddling like a swimmer will feed right back into the relaxation loop you’re trying to establish here; it becomes smoother.

TIPS

Here are three things that’ll help you bring elements of the classic freestyle swimming stroke into your paddling game;

  1. Relax the neck.
    Almost all of us paddle “worried”, with the head up and the chest angling off the board. This instantly causing tension in the neck and putting stress on all the small muscles of the shoulders and upper back. You don’t have to adopt this posture in order to tell where you’re going and what’s happening around you. Instead, consciously relax all those muscles and let your head come down closer to the board. It doesn’t have to be all the way down and you can glance around from time to time without the world blowing up. Just let it go. Immediately every aspect of the paddle stroke will feel easier.

  2. Extend the arm.
    The classic swim stroke begins with the “catch” - hand just submerged and in line with the shoulder, arm propelled forward out of the shoulder, and everything very relaxed and almost passive. The long straight line from shoulder to hand is then broken at the elbow, and as the hand comes back, all of it and the forearm engaged in the stroke. Everything’s close into the body, and the effort is in the “pull” - the central phase of the movement, as the hand comes beneath the shoulder. This is the opposite of a typical surfing paddle stroke, which is almost always a short, tense movement, with the arm held out slightly to the side - kinda like a sculling oar.

    Make sure you don’t cup your hands, just let them relax with fingers slightly spread. A relaxed hand is a relaxed forearm, which is a relaxed shoulder, which is an extended stroke. Cupping your hand doesn’t catch any more water but it sure as hell tightens your entire arm and limits the movement. Try it!

  3. Slow it down.
    There’s no place for “egg-beater” paddling rates in surfing, not even when you’re trying to catch a wave. (Revolutionary idea by the way: paddling is not so much for catching waves, it’s for getting into position to catch waves. Catching waves isn’t about paddling hard, it’s about being in the right spot.)

    If you’re gonna relax the neck muscles and extend the arm into the stroke, you don’t need to rush it. What you are trying for here is maximum effect for minimum effort. A good swimmer can cover 50 metres in 20 single-arm strokes. You won’t get there, but you will get somewhere. Just think about a pace of about a single arm stroke every second, maybe a little longer or shorter depending on your physique. Breathe at that pace, in on one stroke, out on the next.

IF YOU'VE GOT A QUESTION FOR NICK ABOUT PADDLING LIKE A SWIMMER DROP IT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.

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