Exercises and Drills – Pause paddling


We continue with our posts about exercises to improve your technique. Today we will look a bit more into pause paddling!

We received an email with the following question: “How do I keep my oars off the water?”

Without seeing a video of your sculling it’s hard to answer – but the main key is to build improved familiarity with handling the oars.

The one that I think will help you the most is pause paddling.  Do single strokes pausing for 2-3 seconds each stroke.  Start by pausing at the finish – blades flat on the water, handles against your shirt.

Then try doing it to pause at hands away (arms straight and legs straight).

Then try to add a “Double” press to the handles at hands away.  To do this, you must first be confident doing the 2 I describe above.  Then you do one stroke and easy at hands away; from there press down on the scull handles with an even pressure in both handles, lifting the blades off the water, back down onto the water and then off the water again before doing one more stroke and practicing it again.

When you can press down on the handles and lift them off the water together successfully it’s a sign that you are building skill learning how the weight of the handles feel in your hands, and how to control that.

The next step is to go back to single stroke pause paddling pausing at the finish position, blades flat on the water.  Do the drill with two pauses, one at the finish and one at hands away.  From the first pause at the finish, push down on your handles just the same amount of pressure as you used in the double press exercise and use that downward pressure to direct the handles towards the second pause position at hands away.  Your oars should be off the water and the handles describe a curve shaped like the letter “J”.  I call this the “j-curve” exercise. We had a more detailed description of the j-curve exercise two weeks ago. 

When you can successfully get the oars from the finish to hands away with the oars off the water, try sculling continuously building confidence holding your handles low in the boat from hands away position all the way up to the catch.


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