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Danny Ching paddling his 404 with a hippo stick paddle

2023 SUP Carolina Cup Closure

Being able to participate as an observer, paddle board aficionado, coach, and vendor/sponsor for the 2023 SUP Carolina Cup was truly a wonderful experience. To see how multiple races are set up and run logistically was really quite impressive. I don't think we give enough credit to producers and directors of these events and their staff who pull it all together. So from Vermont Ski and Sport, we thank you and give you a sincere high five!

My eyes and brain were always processing and gathering data from the many talented paddlers from around the world. As someone who really enjoys science and bio-mechanics, it was a virtual treasure trove of information.

Here are 6 quick tips that separate good from great on the race course.

1.) Once a person is committed and has the discipline in a sport to enjoy and improve, it’s only a matter of time that the development starts to mature. Trying to develop too quickly and intensely is most likely not the preferred path for long term sustainability and success.

2.) Technique is a complex series of interactions and interplays that coexist with your style, physical well-being, and mental/emotional capabilities. Notice I said “coexist”. If turmoil exists in any of these assets it will hinder you. Sports psychology or talk therapy is a great way to explore many of these facets.

3.) The saying “practice makes perfect” is not something that we feel gets you there. What if you’re practicing the wrong skills? Getting comfortable with consistent focused prepared practice and being ready to adapt to new skills is what I like to expound on when I am coaching with students.

4.) When receiving guidance or coaching make sure it’s relevant, reproducible, and adheres to the latest technique that is exposed by the true SUP Professional athletes (read Michael Booth, April Zilg, Fiona Wylde, and Danny Ching for example).

5.) When I watch the higher level pros they all exhibit the following non-negotiable skills;

a.) They have a true grasp and application of the “catch” phase of the paddle stroke and its relationship to power.

b.) Their stance and positioning is athletic, strong, and centered.

c.) The time in the water with each individual paddle stroke is short, deliberate, and concise.

d.) Initiation and reach phases of the paddle stroke are smooth, not over stretched, and “just right”.

e.) They have the uncanny ability to handle challenging, irregular, dynamic, and difficult water conditions.

f.) The melding of their techniques is done with seamless fluidity and adept positioning.

g.) They fully grasp and execute how to put the hammer down i.e. POWER.

h.) They put all of the pieces together fluidly. Their technique does not look like parts and pieces but a whole movement.

6.) Some paddlers are inhibited by;

a.). Incorrect paddle length (typically too long).

b.) Incorrect board width for goals and skill level (almost always too narrow).

I look forward to seeing and helping everyone this season with any coaching and guidance that is needed. Please feel reach out to me anytime! Keep and eye out for the formal launch of our SHOULDER SAVER WORKSHOPS and PERFORMANCE PADDLING CLINICS. You can also create your own group or private coaching!

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