5 Reasons Your Child Should SUP

kid1Kids Gain Self-Confidence.  There is simply nothing like being able to go a distance opr explore a body of water with your own physical energy from a very young age.  Riding a bike is one thing.  Skillfully steering and powering a paddleboard is quite another. All of a child’s athletic endeavors helps to shape their sense of self, but SUP opens the door to a community of “waterpeople” of all ages and abilities.  How often can an entire family head out to the water – each independent but connected? How often can a young athlete stand board to board at the start of a race with elite paddlers – who nurture and inspire? kid5

Spatial awareness.  When kids learn how to navigate a standup board through narrow spaces and tight turns—how to avoid collisions, round a buoy with finesse, or squeeze into a packed starting line at a regatta—they develop a spatial awareness that will bring them prowess all activities that involve coordination.  Like driving, for instance.

kid2Sense of direction.  Kids might paddle all week with a class, camp program or clinic – and gain one set of skills. They become able to go out and explore on their own – which delivers a different set of challenges and rewards. By planning a route with guidance, heading out with the right safety equipment a young person can begin to develop a good sense of direction.  Noticing which direction they had come from, picking out landmarks, and knowing how to get back becomes a regular part of their stream of consciousness.  That awareness is crucial to having a sense of direction.

Weather knowledge.  Do you know from which direction thunder storms normally come?  Do you know what the water temperature normally is in cold water climates??  If your child is a standup paddler, he or she will know.   Weather knowledge will come in handy both on-the-water and on land.

kid3Sportsmanship and Community.  Standup paddling has such an easy learning curve as newcomers to the sport start as beginners.  Young people who have put in some time and have gained some skills – usually from a parent or mentor – can easily adopt those roles for themselves.  The nature of SUP events invites connection, fun and even competition across age groups.  On the land or on the water opportunities to share equipment and knowledge are abundant.

Travis Grant: Play Your Way to SUP Technique

tg3Waking up the day after the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge 8-mile down wind event I had a very cool discovery. I was sore in different places than my  usual. I had adjusted my technique a bit and I think I think the pecs, abs and lat soreness were better than the usual fatigue.

We had spent an evening a few days before the event learning a lot at a clinic given by Travis Grant on the Willamette River at the Gorge Performance site. Travis began by explaining how much outrigger paddling prepared him for success at SUP.tg2

The goal in standup paddling, as in outrigger paddling, is to be as efficient as possible. The result will be your ability to go faster, further and longer. By listening to your body and honing better technique you will be better able to paddle without injury.

tg4The Take-Aways: A few tips Travis shared that seemed to be what people needed to refine the most included:

1. Stand with feet facing forward in a wide stance. This gives more power, more balance and more stability.

2. Maintain soft knees that are ready to deliver power.

3. This was really valuable – “If you think of why you do what you do then technique changes make more sense.”  For instance, think of planting your paddle blade fully into the water. Think of it as being stuck in sand. You want to move the board forward, not pull the paddle past the board. By imaging the blade stuck in sand it is easier to image the forward driving motion delivered by body rotation and a strong core.tg1

4. Slow down to go faster – this means that if you must slow down to get your technique right, you will go faster in the long run. Part of this slow down is the opportunity to really engage your abs, your core, as you rotate your body with the paddle reach and catch. Keeping your core engaged through the return and you uncoil from that rotation allows you to derive your power from your larger muscles. Proper body mechanics will allow for your greatest reach and you most efficient stroke.

Travis Grant at the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge - delivering speed, excitement and a whole lot of fun

Travis Grant at the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge – delivering speed, excitement and a whole lot of fun

5. Above all, Travis seems to live a relaxed and playful approach to training, focus, excellence and teaching.

So when I woke up with soreness in my pecs, abs and glutes it was a huge, “Wooohooo!” Not only did I have a great down wind experience with plenty of speed and glides, my perceived exertion was so much less. I played at honing technique throughout the race – and love the results of the coaching from Travis grant. If you can make it to one of his clinics – do it! A video is a good way to get to know Travis (see below) but one on one water time with Travis at a clinic is worlds better!