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cat stenta paddleboarding the 2023 starboard sprint

What We Can Learn From the Young Guns of Stand Up Paddleboarding

The exciting 2023 paddle board racing season has been awesome to watch unfold! The commitment, athleticism, superior physical conditioning, and new techniques of the younger generation are setting new standards. These top pros and amateurs alike lead the way for important changes for all of us to implement in our game! Many of the sup clubs and teams are using sports science methodologies such as lactate testing, VO2 laddering, and specific strength and periodization programs and their outcomes are very positive.

Here is our take:

1. A much more dynamic knee forward and staggered stance is very evident in higher speed sprints.

2. Shorter paddles for sprints and technical races are becoming common place. Different paddle-blade sizes are part of any successful paddlers quiver. I personally use 2 different styles now and love it.

3. Core training using multi planer moves that create resilience and to quote Dan John “armor building” is crucial. This type of training allows for the higher cadence and the tremendous spinal forces to be handled without injury. Exercises we like and use are kettlebell swings, goblet squats, dead lifts, farmers walks, Turkish get-ups, and banded rotation/anti rotation drills.

4. Harnessing the power and strength of the posterior chain is very evident in their stroke patterns.

paddleboarding the 2023 starboard sprint

5. There is aligned spinal bend forward during the reach and power phase, but knowing how to manage this forward angle is crucial. Going too far forward (just like in a deadlift or squat) dismisses hip power and creates chronic spinal stress.

6. Hand and arm speed is an essential part of a fast and efficient forward stroke.

7. Their psychological conditioning is so apparent in their poise, joy, and general demeanor on the tour and during races.

8. Mental and tactical clarity in making critical strategic short and long term decisions seems more on point than in the early years of racing.

9. Being able to handle the “anaerobic pain cave” is par for the course! This must be trained carefully, precisely, and developed over time. So what does this all have to do with us recreational performance paddlers? What I am trying to influence with my coaching and observations is the following; You can’t just paddle your way into being a better paddler without doing more work off the water.

For paddlers with deficits and weaknesses, our dry land specific trainings can make for significant on water gains! Ask us how we can help! We offer both group and private performance training as well as virtual/remote coaching.

paddleboarding the 2023 starboard sprint
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