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6 Ways an Athlete Student Can Improve Learning and Athletic Development

As you all know I have coached for a long time and continue to develop and practice my trade. Recently I’ve been doing more in-person and on-water clinics for performance paddle boarding fundamentals verses through our remote coaching platform. This has allowed me to watch students interact in a group setting and more effectively teach the how and why of athletic development.

Here is my list of what I have marked as a teacher that can help a student learn to develop skills in a more efficient manner.

  1. Footwork is an area that many recreational paddle boarders need massive work including myself. When I visualize great footwork, professional paddler Candice Appleby comes to mind as a great example to watch and emulate. Relaxed but assertive walking up and down the deck is a critical skill to have.
  2. Foot slapping is the struggle with the foot’s inability to articulate and bend at the ankle and drive off the big toe. Steps will be quieter and smoother when the feet work correctly. This can manifest itself from bio mechanical issues along with improper footwear and life/activities on land regardless of on board ability. Having a good coach evaluate your foot structure and movement can have so many positive outcomes for an athlete.
  3. Fitness and conditioning can be misunderstood, with both under-training and over-training. Just because someone can lift weights, walk 4 miles, or paddle 7 miles doesn’t mean they can apply and execute the skills we are teaching. These are all certainly good benchmarks and we want you to continue, but I see many issues with not having strength, power, and a range of movement abilities. The modern current techniques of Fiona Wylde, Caterina Stenta, Michale Booth, and April Zilg all require a planned and proper multi-year training program that is relevant and follows sound principals. We particularly like the the StrongFirst methodologies for strength and conditioning. I see many of my students struggle and fail because they simply don’t have the ability to create force and power!
  4. Not listening and following directions is a big one. What I am referring to is a stubbornness and/or lack of vulnerability by a student to be accepting and let go and learn! This is a huge one and I see this more and more. I will always remember a great coach once saying to me "if you’re not here to listen, learn, and try, the door is over there”. I can’t emphasize enough how a students’ attitude makes or breaks their success and their struggles.
  5. Equipment choice can play a major role in skills growth. My number one issue are paddle boards that are too narrow. This is a huge problem influenced and perpetuated by manufacturers, professional athletes, fellow recreational paddlers, shops, and over zealous coaches. I call this SUP shaming. Regardless of what you may think, a 24", 26”, and even a 28" board are still quite narrow. I see too often a paddler is shamed into getting a 19”, 21”, or 23” wide which for many recreational paddlers is just too narrow. There is no conclusive data out there showing that a recreational paddler on a narrower board is faster or better off. Please keep in mind that for some paddlers in regards to weight, height, and abilities these narrower widths are appropriate and we support that.
  6. Not using current “world cup level” technique in a scaled down manner for performance paddlers is an area of misapplication and concern. Misinformation from coaches, out of date youtube videos, and good natured (but incorrect) friends can be a road block for many paddle boarders improvement. Always check the source and its validity! If you have questions about a certain technique, EMAIL ME.

If a paddler can be more stable, more comfortable, and less stressed they will have a much easier and more productive time. This will make for a better experience free paddling and racing. If you want to improve your paddling but aren’t sure where to start, please schedule a FREE initial coaching consult with me and we can decide together which direction makes sense. We coach, build custom correct length paddles, and ship boards anywhere in North America too!

Here is a recent quote sent to me from one my wonderful students. “I can't even tell you how deeply, deeply I appreciate your amazing coaching. I can't wait to get out there tomorrow and practice!”

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