Monday, July 02, 2007

(still a Valid concept?
I taught another fundamentals of sea kayaking last Friday and ended with the usual cautions, best wishes and advise. As always, I told the "graduates" to put safety first, to enjoy their time on the water and to consider future instructions such as a symposiums, a strokes clinic or the like. But first, I advised, get some Butt In The Boat Time.
Writers write is an old saw so, I suppose, paddlers paddle. It does, after all, take time to adapt to the new movements and sense of balance and to develop muscle memory. I know, for myself, that when I am paddling on a regular basis I am smoother, more relaxed and most efficient. Still, I wonder if this across the board advise to go and paddle a lot is as valid as I've thought in the past.
As hard as it is to learn new skills, it is all the harder if one has to first unlearn bad habits...and then replace them with proper skills. BITBT may, in the end, be a window of opportunity for the new paddler to develop muscle memory of poor form and technique. And tops amongst them all is (in my judgment) arm paddling.
Modern man seems to be totally unaware that one can turn side to side without swiveling about in their seat (or moving their feet should they be standing...but I digress). Folks seem oblivous of the fact that they can do more than just bend (for those of them who can actually bend) at the waist. I have all students hold their paddles with their elbows pinned to their side and at right angles. Then I demonstrate rotating my body from side to side. I even sit on the ground and place an object at my right (which, of course, requires torso rotation). I pick it up and put it on my left (which, of course. yata yata yata. Then, they all get into their boats (with various degrees of grace) and proceed to windmill their arms like boxers jabbing an invisible opponents.
I imagine that when they leave and paddle on their own that they are highly successful at practicing this poor form and burning it into muscle memory. Oh well, the next guy can deal with that. Wait a minute...that next guy might be me!
Paddle safe...

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