The Catch – Fixing the Most Important Part Of Your SUP Stroke with Seychelle
In this article, Seychelle shares her knowledge about improving the first phase of the SUP paddle stoke – the catch. As a professional SUP racer and paddling coach, Seychelle joined Black Project at the beginning of the 2019 season. Before joining the team, she suffered a back injury. Because of that injury, it was particularly important for her to find the best blade and shaft combination that would enable her to not only race on the professional circuit but also to rehabilitate and perform her duties as a coach on a daily basis. Fully rested and on the road to full recovery, Seychelle rocked the SUP world by claiming both the distance and sprint victories at the APP London Open, her debut race as a Black Project athlete.
The ‘catch‘ is arguably the most important part of the SUP paddle stroke and having the right paddle blade is critical. I may be a bit of a gear geek, but I believe it matters what equipment you use. As someone who is very picky when it comes to paddles, one of the main reasons I switched to Black Project was because of how easy it is to catch the water and set my blade using the HYDRO paddle. To better understand why the catch is so important, here’s a basic breakdown of proper paddling technique and how the HYDRO performs for me.
A “clean catch” means several things: The paddle enters the water with a positive blade angle. There should be little to no splash and the blade needs to be fully submerged before you begin to pull. The movement is like a scoop, think “forward and in.”
Set Your Blade
“Setting the blade” is when you drive your paddle down (as opposed to pulling back) to maintain a positive blade angle during your stroke. There should be little to no water disturbance, swirls, splashing during your pull. Think “deeper and down.”
Are You Doing This Correctly?
The first thing you can do is listen to the sound your paddle makes both as it enters the water and for the duration of your stroke. A silent paddle is an efficient paddle. The best way to evaluate your stroke is to take some video of yourself paddling from a side-view. When slowed down, it’s easy to see the blade angle at entry and how long it takes to get your blade set, if at all.
Why Is This So Important?
If you do not set your blade properly, it doesn’t matter how hard you pull, you will be losing potential power as your paddle slips through the water. When trying to improve your technique, first and foremost work on your catch. Then work on your pull.
The HYDRO Paddle Advantage
What struck me most about the Hydro is the ease with which I can catch the water. I have never tried a paddle before this one that made me think, “Wow!” from the very first stroke. The blade angle (8 degrees – much less than many other paddles on the market) is just right for me to get my body weight on top of the paddle and quickly bury the blade at the catch. This allows me to take full advantage of my power at the top of my stroke.
I have a term for my blade entry point, I call it my “sweet spot.” The place where I know I can get my blade fully buried with that positive angle. My sweet spot actually moved forward on my board when I started using the Hydro paddle. This means I can produce more power, earlier in my stroke. To balance this, I also adjusted my blade exit point and moved that forward on my board. This works for me because I prefer more power at the top of my stroke, as opposed to the finish.
Stoke Technique Coaching from Seychelle
As an athlete and professional paddling coach, Seychelle offers a number of training options and advice via the Paddle Monster platform. If you are interested in having your stroke analyzed, working on a training program or arranging a clinic in your area, please get in touch with her via email. A number of Black Project athletes follow training programs designed by Seychelle.
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