Ski Stability – There’s No Substitute For Paddling Time
It’s been three weeks since I started paddling and joined Buck’s program. My stability has improved hugely and my confidence is high. So what did I do to improve stability? Let me explain.
The first tip I got from fellow paddlers is that there’s no substitute for paddling time; i.e. spending time in the ski. So I decided that for the first 2 weeks I would paddle every day.
The first few times I just spent time paddling at a steady pace in the Mooloolaba river. All the time I concentrated on my paddling technique. Speaking of which, I must tell you a couple of things I learned from Buck that helped me a lot.
The first tip was to “paddle in front”. What this means is keeping the paddle action in front of you. I noticed that when I let the paddle pass my hips, I would severely lose stability. Sometimes my paddle would actually pull me into the water!
The second tip I got was related to my posture. I was leaning too far back and that affected my stability. I have a lower back problem and have since worked on stretching the hamstrings and lower back muscles to enable me to sit more upright. Anyway, being upright or leaning slightly forward seems to help me with balance in the ski.
One of the more experienced paddlers also noticed that I was looking at my feet while paddling. The advice I was given was to look at the front of the ski or higher; e.g. straight ahead. Once I did this, my stability in the ski improved immediately.
The final tip I got from Buck was to use a fit ball at home and practice sitting on it and balancing. You can start by putting your feet up on a char or table, as you would be positioned in a ski, and rotate your body in a paddling action.
I also tried balancing on the fit ball with my arms out to my side and feet suspended above the ground. This works your core and I think it helps with balance.
In recent days I have ventured out into the ocean and although I have fallen in a few times, I’m definitely improving. I have no hesitation in heading out into the ocean; in fact that’s my preference.
One of the other beginners in our group bought a ski with a very high seat and leg length that’s too short. He was finding it almost impossible to stay in the ski. Well, two weeks on and he’s improved out of sight! I am impressed especially as the ski he owns is so tippy to start with. It makes me feel a little inadequate actually!
So you see, it’s possible to improve your stability very quickly. Spend more time in the ski and you’ll start to develop the muscles and coordination needed to be stable.
The main thing is don’t give up! Invest in some paddling time. You’ll get there with a little practice and by avoiding those habits that cause you to tip.