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How and Why to Practice SUP Drills – SUP Tip: SIC Talk Story

Global Athlete Seychelle hosts SUP Tips on #sictalkstory talking about “How and Why to Practice Drills” Seychelle hosts these Talk Stories LIVE on SIC Maui’s Women of Watersports Facebook Page.

Welcome to another edition of SIC Maui Talk Stories. I’m Seychelle, and we’re going to be talking about using drills to improve your standup paddle stroke technique. How, when, why. Different techniques, like using resistance to improve your stand up paddle stroke technique. So this is a really exciting topic and thank you first and foremost to SIC Maui for hosting these talk stories!

Thank you for being interested in your own development. So let’s dive in! A lot of you know me, and some of you don’t. I am a professional stand up paddle athlete and global athlete for SIC Maui, and I’m also a coach for stand up paddle athletes.

And I’ve been paddling and competing professionally for nine years, and teaching clinics all over the world to paddlers on stroke technique. So I coach athletes in groups and in one on one training. I’ve been doing that for the last five years and in 2019, which was the last year that I competed I was the APP world champion for distance and sprinting. 

So I’ve spent a substantial amount of my time as an athlete, really working on improving my stroke and my technique. That’s always been a huge part of my training and my implementation. So I’m always learning, I’m always practicing, I’m always improving and I’m always teaching what works for me to others. I’ve developed an entire drill video series of the drills that I’ve developed that I use myself and when I’m teaching stand up paddle stroke and some of the main things that I focus on when I’m teaching, especially our stroke efficiency and power as well as using proper body mechanics and recovery protocols to prevent injury and get out of pain. So those are some of my key things that I focus on. 

So I’m really passionate about paddling, about stroke technique, and I’m really passionate about helping people. So let’s talk about drills and why to use drills. 

Some of the main reasons why I believe you should use drills when you’re in your SUP training is because SUP is a very complex sport and the SUP stroke is a very complex full body movement. There’s a lot to going on in that it takes on average about a one and a half seconds to take a stroke, right? And so in that span of one and a half seconds there’s a dozen or more different things actually going on that you could possibly be thinking about.

Therefore, it’s impossible in that span of one and a half seconds to be thinking about everything that is going into your stroke, right? So, when we practice drills, what we do is we break the stroke down into individual pieces that can be isolated and slightly exaggerated to focus on. When you do drills, you just practice one aspect of your stroke that you’re focusing on for that entire drill and what you take away from drills is rather than trying to think of all the things that you’re trying to do each time you take a stroke, you want to take away from that drill of that isolation, how it really feels in your body.

When you put the drills together and when you’re paddling in your fluid rhythm of your SUP stroke, what you can concentrate on is how it feels, the connection that you feel to the water, the connection that you feel in your body and not thinking about a dozen different things that you’re trying to do in the span of one stroke.

That’s a reason why I break things down into drills. Drills slow things down and when you’re learning something new, it helps to go slow. Especially not just forming new habits, but trying to improve and/or change habits.

So it helps to go slow so that you can be focused, so that you can really feel what you’re doing, and you have more time to integrate that and to process it. You’ve probably all heard the term muscle memory. So we learn really well through repetition and our body actually learns how to do a movement the more we repeat it. So when you have a way that you’ve been doing something for a long time in your muscle memory, it’s even harder and takes more time and deliberation to change that, but it is possible.

So it takes repetition and focusing on one thing at a time. How many of you have tried to change something in your stroke before? And you maybe even thought one, it’s impossible to get your body to do that. Two, you think you’re doing it and then you see a video or a picture of yourself and you’re like “Oh, I’m not doing that at all” or three, maybe you’re like, “actually I’m still in the learning stages of how to paddle”. Or you’re number four, “something I didn’t even think of”. So why we would practice drills would be to stop thinking about your technique while you’re paddling and start feeling that connection.

Another reason why it’s really helpful is simply just thinking about your technique while you’re paddling. You’re going out and you’re paddling and you say, “Seychelle, I’m working on my technique all the time. I’m always working on my technique”. Okay, great. Hopefully we’re not just going out and saying “Oh, the heck with technique. I’m just gonna blast it”. But just going out and thinking about your technique while you’re paddling, while you’re doing your low, slow, levels of training. It’s helpful. Yes, do that, but it’s not going to get you the results of being able to shift your habits, your stroke, and implement new techniques into your stroke. It’s not going to get you the results that doing drills is going to get you. 

So we’re falling into those old patterns more than we think or realize.

If you’re somebody who paddles four days a week or more, one whole day you can dedicate to just doing drills and I have entire workouts that I’ve written around just doing drills for that entire workout. So that’s your whole day, once a week is strictly technique day. That’s one way, if you’re somebody who has the capacity, the ability to train many days a week. If you’re somebody who paddles only one to three days a week, you are totally still able to work on your technique. What I recommend in that case is the first 10 to 20 minutes at the beginning and 10 to 20 minutes at the end of every paddle session you do some drills.

That’s the beginning and the end is when you’re really dedicated to drills. Yes, maybe the whole time you’re thinking about your technique, but that’s when you’re actually throwing in some drills, in your warmup and in your cool down. We all just do what we can so you can still totally work on your technique and improve as a paddler, no matter how often you’re able to go.

Obviously the more you go, the more time you put in, the faster you get results, but we do what we can. So for best results, always practice drills in as flat of water as possible. You can go into a canal, you can go into a harbor, behind a breakwater, whatever you have to do to try to get out of swell and wind and current.

When you practice drills, one thing that’s helpful to remember is don’t expect to immediately feel like you’re understanding what you’re trying to do or that you’re even feeling like you’re doing it initially. It takes time and it takes practice. For me when there’s something new I’m trying to implement in my stroke, there’s always a period of trying to conceptualize what I’m trying to do, and then there’s a period of getting my body to be able to repeat that and get that to happen consistently, and then it starts to integrate into my stroke. 

I’m hoping when you practice drills, that every once in a while there’s a stroke where you’re like, “oh that was it, oh I felt that”. When you get those strokes all you’re trying to do is linking those together and get that to happen more consistently. Even when you’ve been practicing your technique for a long time, you still have times when it starts to fall apart.

A couple of other small tips that I have on working on drills and slowing things down is that you can use resistance when you’re paddling to help in this way. I don’t recommend using resistance on longer training paddles, on harder, more intense levels of training. I do recommend using resistance when you’re implementing drills about 50 percent of the time.

Sometimes you want to do drills without resistance and sometimes you want to do drills with resistance. So, resistance, just like resistance training, which would be like weight lifting helps build strength, it can also be helpful for building technique. So you can add resistance to your board. So when you add resistance, it slows everything down. So basically, it gives you more time for that stroke to really feel what’s happening and I think it feels really good. You don’t put a ton of resistance, just a little bit.

So a couple of simple ways to add resistance. For example you can drag a leash. You could wear one leash and drag another one. A coil leash creates a nice little bit of resistance. That’s often the easiest one that I do. You could also take a couple of bungee cords and wrap them around the nose of your board. You know how the nose of your board gets, gets wider? So, right before the widest part, you’d wrap them around so they can’t slide back anymore, but underneath the board creating resistance and drag. You can get fancy and put holes in a tennis ball through one bungee cord or even through a waffle ball, but it’s hard to get. You have to be able to feed the bungee through the ball, and then wrap it around your board. You would also do that up on the nose of your board before the widest part. So those are some simple ways that you can create resistance and start practicing.

And now you’re like, “Okay. Great. I know how and why to use drills, but I don’t know what drills to use”. 

But I have something really exciting to share with you all right now since you’re here. I just launched a drill video series of all of the drills. I made a drill video series, something I’ve been working on for a long time. All the drills that I use when I teach stand up paddle racing technique to help you improve your stroke, your efficiency, your power, your speed, your body mechanics and that’s available for purchase right now on my website.

That’s what I have for you today on using drills, how, when, why and we can continue to work on these things together. I would love love love love to help you improve your paddle stroke so please reach out. That is what I do through video analysis, through drills, through one on one coaching, thank you so much SIC, thank you so much.

Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of your day. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

How and Why to Practice SUP Drills - SUP Tip: SIC Talk Story