If you're reading this, the quest for becoming faster on your paddleboard is in full effect. So what's next? Actually getting faster! As in any athletic endeavor your technique, tactics, preparation, and training must be aligned for a positive and effective outcome.
Every aspect of paddleboarding should be evaluated for your success and progress. From my many years of coaching and racing experience, I see that most people like to train their strengths, and tend to ignore many of their weaknesses. The paradigm that I employ with my students and myself is training the weakness, because that is where the biggest improvements can and will be seen.
Below are a list of steps to take to begin feeling more comfortable and efficient on your board.
- Develop a strong aerobic base well before the paddleboarding season. One of our favorite and often overlooked methods for this is WALKING! Its low impact can revive the para-sympathetic nervous system and can be done anywhere, anytime.
- Many paddlers separate the mechanics of their paddle strokes into several different "parts and pieces" (REACH/CATCH/POWER/RECOVERY). Work on developing your paddle stroke to be a smooth, flowing, efficient collaborative movement instead of multiple pieces strung together.
- Develop your joint mobility and stability through proper training including kettle bells, yoga, and stretching. Understand when to apply stretching (soft tissue flexibility). It should be used at the correct time and carefully.
- Buy a stand up paddleboard that is matched to your weight, height, ability, and the type of water you will be paddling/training/racing in.
- Watching a Candice Appleby footwork clinic in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina reinforced how crucial proper footwork is. The ability to move well with a balanced body is paramount for every aspect of your paddling.
- Buy a Nielsen-Kellerman Speed Coach 2.0! The data including; heart rate, strokes per minute, distance per stroke, speed, and more are fantastic when analyzing your technique. These metrics enable you to see what works and what doesn’t.
- Train like you race and race like you trained.
- Do not go out on the water without a PFD(we like the MTI - Adventure Wear 2.0).
- Various types of water conditions require a different style safety leash, i.e. coil vs. straight, ankle vs. calf, etc. We love the HOWZIT leashes and make it a point to use them EVERY time we go out.
- A hydration pack should always be worn and used while training and racing. For proper race day hydration, ensuring you are properly hydrated 48 hours in advance is critical.
- Nutrition is the fuel for sport, not the overly marketed energy drinks! Try to stick to natural, healthy foods without artificial flavors, preservatives, and chemicals.
- Hire a coach or join a training group. You can only learn so much from reading and watching videos of Danny Ching. Having a pro work with you on the water is amazing and can improve your skills and racing immensely.
- Utilize photos, video, and timing of your training sessions. These are often used by professional coaches (such as those certified by the WPA) to aid in reviewing technique.
- Practice all aspects of the race including starts, sprints, buoy turns, and finishes so you can comfortably execute them during an actual race.
- The lightest and most expensive board is not needed for most recreational racers. Durability and a current design/shape is. Check out the Tayor Rambo designed Riviera Paddlesurf RP 12'6" and 14' for a truly great value and an awesome board.
- Overtraining exists and will not make you better. Develop a program that is focused and goal orientated. Make sure to give yourself the proper recovery time before and after races and training sessions. For most paddlers, three days per week of on water training is sufficient for a weekend race schedule.
- Train in a variety of conditions so that you're more comfortable with your skill set. The best advice I ever got was from Jeramie Vaine, team racer for BOGA Stand Up Paddleboards. I went up to him after one of my early races and asked him what I could do to improve. He said go out in the most challenging conditions and learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
- The mechanics of the stroke require seriously strong legs and core. Make sure you train the posterior chain of you body (what you can’t see in the mirror). Exhaustive, pounding, high intensity training (HIT) is only suggested in small doses. To maintain longevity and sustainability in SUP racing and other sports, be kind to your body, it has to last a lifetime.
- Make sure to have fun! Laugh and cry with yourself and don't take yourself too seriously. Oh and don’t forget to watch Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm on your rest days.
If you or your friends, office, club, or school would like to hire Jonathan Bischof for a private clinic he may be contacted at 802-258-0282
Jonathan Bischof is from Jamaica, Vermont and is an avid skier, stand up paddleboarder, kettlebell enthusiast, and loves to eat and cook. For fun he likes to race stand up paddleboards. He runs the SUP academy for Vermont Ski and Sport. Jonathan is a fitness professional with the following credentials; World Paddle Association (WPA) Level 1, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Functional Movement Systems (FMS) Level 1 and 2, and Russian Kettlebell (RKC1 and HKC).