The paddle out! Sometimes the way out is a lot longer than you think… but it can be well worth it! This is why aerobic endurance training is a key part of surfing, because 54% of the time surfers are paddling out to the waves.
Studies have shown that more successful surfers have superior muscular power output meaning they can reach the break faster and catch more waves! So how do you improve this? Amongst other endurance activities such as swimming, hopping on a rowing machine can provide you with the aerobic training and improve muscular power to get you surfing at your peak.
The entire upper body plays a major role in increasing your paddling ability including your arms, shoulders, back and core muscles. Keep it simple at first by increasing basic strength in these areas with a range of simple movements including press ups, bench presses (chest & shoulders), abdominal crunches, squats (these are really good for your CORE) and pull ups (back muscles & shoulder girdle). As well as increasing strength in these areas make sure you keep flexible, gradually increasing the range of motion (ROM) with these movements before attempting any power training.
Once you have the basic strength and ROM then it's time to get creative, making each work-out interesting is key to keeping on track and there are heaps of ways to do this with power training. For example box jumps (up & down), plyometric push ups (make it explosive and add a clap) and a number of medicine ball throws.
It is important to keep your training surf-specific for example the best way to improve your paddling is by paddling, to increase your ability add some resistance, get a mate to hold onto your legrope while you're paddling. Basically you want to mimic the biomechanics and energy pathways surfing requires with your training.
Now let's talk technique. It's one thing to be fit enough to paddle, however, with poor technique you still won't catch as many waves and you'll be wasting your energy doing it. A better technique allows you to produce the most power whilst using as little energy as possible. In other words we're talking about EFFICIENCY.
Here are a few pointers to improve your paddling efficiency for paddling out and catching waves:
- FIND YOUR SWEET SPOT, keep your board flat in water with only a little nose lift as per the rocker of your board
- LIFT YOUR CHEST, you should be engaging your core and back muscles keeping your chest lifted and forward to see where you are paddling
-ANKLES TOUCHING - keep your feet together to prevent drag that will slow you down
-CUP YOUR HANDS - don't have your fingers splayed open as you will have less pulling power, paddling deeper
- REACH FURTHER - don't cut your paddles short reach out further, increasing shoulder flexibility can help with this as well as keeping your chest lifted
- PUSH YOURSELF FORWARD, visualise pulling yourself forward onto the wave not pushing the water back, ultimately you want forward momentum
- STIFF WRIST - Keep your
- PULL INWARD - under your board through the stroke to prevent your hand slipping